Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica

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Overview

In this beautifully written book, Tom Griffiths reflects on the history of human experiences in Antarctica, taking the reader on a journey of discovery, exploration, and adventure in an unforgettable land.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

As the climate changes and polar ice caps shrink dramatically, author and environmental historian Griffiths (Forests of Ash) provides essential background for understanding how we reached the current state of meltdown. Griffiths weaves journal entries from his own voyage to Australia's Antarctic stations in 2002-2003 with extended chapters on the history of human exploration in Antarctica. His description and analysis of the polar experience is clear and comprehensive: he knows the rough seas, the storms, the desolation, the strange lack of green, the physical disruption of body rhythms and the psychological distress, and makes vivid use of that knowledge in his accounts of past explorers (Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, Douglas Mawson, Richard Byrd and many others). As an Australian, Griffiths looks European colonial misdeeds head-on, but he also analyzes forthrightly the Australian government's claims on and behavior toward Antarctica. A jumpy style can be difficult to follow at first, but soon Griffiths's many angles of pursuit-the effects of solitude, the experience of overwintering, the struggle for survival, the biology and behavior of penguins, etc.-come together in an engrossing and highly satisfying pastiche. A fine and informative ecological adventure, Griffiths' history is worth reading and rereading. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Natural History

This is an extraordinary book, as notable as that of Griffiths's antipodal fellow traveler Barry Lopez (whose 1986 best seller, Arctic Dreams, won a National Book Award). Griffiths turns otherwise humdrum shipboard jottings into starting points for inspired ruminations on the meaning of the Antarctic experience. Although he has never ventured into the interior, he seems to have read virtually everything published on the discovery, exploration, and exploitation of the southern continent, along with a host of unpublished diaries and station logs. Best of all, he relates what he has learned in prose that is both thoughtful and luminous...Few of us will ever visit Antarctica, even though cruise ships now bring several tens of thousands of high-rolling tourists to its coasts each year. Readers, I am sure, will come away from this book agreed that fewer is better, because Griffiths makes it clear just how special this land is, and, for all its ruggedness, how fragile. Better to leave Antarctic travels to a select few scientists, adventurers, and support staff. And, from time to time—for those of us who stay at home—eloquent writers like Tom Griffiths.
— Laurence A. Marschall

Los Angeles Times Book Review

In 2002 Griffiths, an environmental historian, accompanied a team of researchers to Antarctica. He writes about the romance of ocean exploration, the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, but also about how high winds make that continent an indicator of global climate health.
— Susan Salter Reynolds

Seven Oaks

Griffiths is an Australian environmental historian who weaves the story of his visit [to Antarctica] supplying a scientific research station with a good deal of history and science. He writes with insight about the past and probable future as seen from the front lines of the global-warming crisis.
— George Fetherling

Globe and Mail

Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica is a many-layered, sophisticated narrative, not only of the Antarctic, but our relationship with it.
— Jean McNeil

Los Angeles Times Book Review - Susan Salter Reynolds
In 2002 Griffiths, an environmental historian, accompanied a team of researchers to Antarctica. He writes about the romance of ocean exploration, the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, but also about how high winds make that continent an indicator of global climate health.
Natural History - Laurence A. Marschall
This is an extraordinary book, as notable as that of Griffiths's antipodal fellow traveler Barry Lopez (whose 1986 best seller, Arctic Dreams, won a National Book Award). Griffiths turns otherwise humdrum shipboard jottings into starting points for inspired ruminations on the meaning of the Antarctic experience. Although he has never ventured into the interior, he seems to have read virtually everything published on the discovery, exploration, and exploitation of the southern continent, along with a host of unpublished diaries and station logs. Best of all, he relates what he has learned in prose that is both thoughtful and luminous...Few of us will ever visit Antarctica, even though cruise ships now bring several tens of thousands of high-rolling tourists to its coasts each year. Readers, I am sure, will come away from this book agreed that fewer is better, because Griffiths makes it clear just how special this land is, and, for all its ruggedness, how fragile. Better to leave Antarctic travels to a select few scientists, adventurers, and support staff. And, from time to time--for those of us who stay at home--eloquent writers like Tom Griffiths.
Seven Oaks - George Fetherling
Griffiths is an Australian environmental historian who weaves the story of his visit [to Antarctica] supplying a scientific research station with a good deal of history and science. He writes with insight about the past and probable future as seen from the front lines of the global-warming crisis.
Globe and Mail - Jean McNeil
Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica is a many-layered, sophisticated narrative, not only of the Antarctic, but our relationship with it.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674026339
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Griffiths teaches history and the environment at the Australian National University in Canberra and is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.
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Table of Contents

Prologue 2

18 December The Fire on the Snow: Legends of the heroic era 5

19 December The Breath of Antarctica: The brave west winds 31

21 December The Unisersity of the Southern Ocean: Life at sea 51

23 December Great South Lands: Reading the rocks 67

24 December Heavenly Bodies: Space weather 83

25 December Planting Flags: Claiming the ice 107

26 December Cold Peace: Reds down under 133

27 December Wintering: Surviving the polar night 157

28 December Solitude: An experiment in loneliness 187

29 December Honeymoon on ICE: Love in a cold climate 197

30 December Of Huddles and Pebbles: Life among the penguins 219

31 December The Changeover: Time, history and generations 243

1 January Green Crusaders: Greenpeace and greenhouse 273

3 January Feeding Body and Soul: Hunger and wonder 295

6 January Captain Scott's Biscuit: The archaeology of return 327

7 and 8 January 351

Acknowledgments 353

Notes 356

Index 386

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