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Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration

W.W. Norton. Jan. 2013. c.352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393083712. $27.95. REC
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Climber and author Roberts (Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer) presents a well-written narrative on the ambitious and arduous Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911–13 and its intrepid leader, Australian geologist Douglas Mawson. This large, multi-party expedition aimed to explore and study large sections of the then-unmapped Antarctic continent. Mawson only barely survived after two of his companions died and most of his food was lost in a crevasse. An experienced and knowledgeable adventure writer, Roberts deftly combines polar-exploration history and biographical background on Mawson and his companions with moving descriptions of the expedition's tragedies and triumphs.
VERDICT While Mawson may be lesser known than fellow explorers Shackleton, Amundsen, or Scott, Roberts's thoroughly researched portrayal leaves little doubt that Mawson deserves a place among these giants of polar exploration. Best suited to history or adventure fans interested in the history of Antarctic exploration and tales of survival against the odds. Readers may also consider Douglas Mawson's own chronicle The Home of the Blizzard: A True Story of Antarctic Survival or Lennard Bickel's Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written.

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