Into the Great Emptiness: Peril and Survival on the Greenland Ice Cap

Blackstone Audio. Sept. 2022. 9:50 hrs. ISBN 9798212018111. $19.95. HIST
The last published work of the late mountaineer and author Roberts (The Mountain of My Fear and Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative) examines the intriguing, abbreviated life and career of Arctic explorer Henry George “Gino” Watkins. During the winter of 1930–31, the 24-year-old Watkins led a team of similarly young expeditioners on a mission to survey and record weather conditions on the forbidding eastern coast of Greenland. Julian Elfer’s narration balances the calm self-assurance Gino was known for with the hints of playful high spirits relayed by the men who chronicled their journey together. Elfer creates palpable tension as the winter weather closes in on the expedition, leaving Augustine Courtauld as the sole observer at the Ice Cap Station for months. Roberts draws heavily on the published books and contemporary diaries of the team members, giving a personal feel to both the description of the expedition and the evaluation of Watkins as a person and a leader. Listeners can judge Roberts’s hypothesis that Watkins could have become a big name like Robert Falcon Scott or Ernest Shackleton had he not disappeared in 1932, presumed drowned among icy fjords at age 25.
VERDICT Recommended for fans of Jon Krakauer or the Polar explorer biographies of Roland Huntford.
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