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When Leslie Carol Roberts went to Antarctica for the first time with Greenpeace, she was hoping to save the world. In the twenty years since then, she has shifted to the no less difficult task of saving Antarctica itself, compiling memoirs and stories, learning the biology and geography of the icy land, and documenting her own journey. Roberts describes in detail the town of Lyttelton, New Zealand—the Cape Canaveral for so many great Antarctic expeditions—prior to the devastating 2011 earthquake in which it was the epicenter.
The Entire Earth and Sky weaves the tragic and heroic tales of nineteenth-century exploration, interviews with scientists, and the author’s personal observations into a remarkable collage that evokes the beauty and the complexity, the perils and the rewards of a lifelong engagement with the earth’s last wilderness.
Roberts, a Fulbright fellow at Gateway Antarctica New Zealand and a teacher at the California College of the Arts, blends in her first book the natural, geological, and (human) history of Antarctica with her own experiences on the continent as a researcher and seawoman. While revealing her profound respect for legendary explorers like James Clark Ross, Roald Amundsen, and Robert Scott, who came to "breathe deeply the entire Earth and sky," she focuses on the supporting players like Captain Worsley of the Endurance, who navigated the lifeboat to South Georgia Island, enabling the rescue of Ernest Shackleton and his men. Samples of her field notes, historic quotations, and photos add interest. This title makes a good companion for Michael Smith's Tom Crean, about another lesser-known hero of the Shackleton adventure; it's complementary to Sara Wheeler's Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica but not as exciting as Lucy Jane Bledsoe's The Ice Cave. Readers with little knowledge of Antarctica will read with enjoyment. Recommended for public libraries and broad Antarctic collections.
—Jean E. Crampon
— Colleen Mondor
— Gretchen Legler
— Dan Danbom
“Antarctica, isolated by a restive sea, filigreed by ice, graced by light and embalmed in darkness, home to the brave and the defiant, has a beauty as ephemeral as an iceberg yet as obdurate as a volcano. The place defies facile description, and puny language scribed by anyone less than a poet simply cannot do it justice. The Entire Earth and Sky is one of a handful of exceptions, as resplendent as sunlight refracted through an icicle and as discomfiting as a plain of sastrugi. Leslie Roberts packed her duffel, her down parka, her bunny boots, her quill, her notebook and headed south. But she also packed her heart, her soul, and her gift. The result is pure art: honest, true to place, original, and lovely.”
—David G. Campbell, author of The Crystal Desert: Summers in Antarctica
“‘I am Antarctica and Antarctica is me,’ Leslie Carol Roberts wants to cry out, knowing that the famous and forbidding land of penguins, ferocious leopard seals, explorers lucky and not, scientists who shag their way through the months-long winter night (also cooks and drivers and pilots and Scott Base string bikinis) is in peril. The Entire Earth and Sky introduces us to the place in a new and thorough and wholly original way. Roberts, possessed of a certain sweet curiosity and impressive smarts, is a poet of the ice, and a cataloger, too. In the end she makes one thing clear: we are all Antarctica, and Antarctica is us.”
—Bill Roorbach, author of Temple Stream, Big Bend, and Into Woods
— Jesse Blackadder