Book: Antarctica – A History in 100 Objects | Polarjournal

The word “Antarctica” often conjures images of vast ice shelves, cute but resilient penguins, and tales of heroic explorers battling the elements. But in “Antarctica: A History in 100 Objects” (published in 2022), a different kind of exploration unfolds. This captivating book reveals a continent defined as much by its hidden stories as by its iconic landscapes and natural inhabitants, taking readers on a journey that goes beyond time.

The authors Jean de Pomereu and Daniella McCahey are the guides on this extraordinary tour. They have selected 100 objects that paint a detailed and intimate portrait of the southernmost continent in the world – some of them expected, others completely surprising. An old banjo tells of brief moments of joy in a time of hardship, a faded photograph of polar explorers standing in a blizzard captures the camaraderie of scientists at a remote outpost, and the fragile remains of a fossilized creature reveal a past when Antarctica was a green and vibrant world.

It is this blend of the familiar and the unexpected that makes the book so compelling. The authors deliberately turn away from traditional narratives of conquest and focus on the human stories woven into the fabric of Antarctica. With each object, they uncover stories of ambition, resilience, scientific breakthroughs, as well as geopolitical tensions and the ever-present shadow of environmental devastation.

In addition to the many vivid descriptions, it is also the numerous photographs, maps and illustrations that play a crucial role in bringing these Antarctic relics to life. The compilation of carefully selcted artwork forms a bridge between the written word and the visual experience of discovery. One can almost feel the rough texture of a ship’s log or the surprising weight of a meteorite fragment. This pairing of text and image creates an immersive experience that goes beyond mere historical documentation.

But “Antarctica: A History in 100 Objects” is not just a journey into the past. It is a testament to the enduring power of Antarctica – its ability to capture the imagination of scientists, adventurers and all those who are simply fascinated by the idea of a world so different from our own. One can witness the development of the continent from the mysterious “Terra Australis Incognita” to an important center for scientific research and a proving grounds for global environmental issues.

The book also deals with the complex role of Antarctica today. It addresses issues such as geopolitical cooperation, the impact of tourism and the urgent need for conservation measures. Without being preachy, the two authors make it subtly clear that the fate of the Antarctic is closely intertwined with that of our entire planet.

Whether you’re a seasoned polar enthusiast or simply curious about this remote corner of the globe, “Antarctica: A History in 100 Objects” offers a new and very compelling perspective. It is a story of human ambition set against the backdrop of a breathtaking wilderness, a testament to the past and a poignant reminder of the challenges that lie ahead.

Dr. Michael Wenger, Polar Journal AG

About the authors:

Title:Antarctica – A History in 100 Objects
Authors:Jean de Pomereu & Daniella McCahey
Publisher:Bloomsbury Publishing
Number of Pages:224
Size:L246mm x W189mm
First publishing2022
Edition1st edition
Available at:In well-assorted bookshops or directly at the publisher

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