Monday, September 22, 2014

Emperors of the Ice

Emperors of the Ice. Richard Farr. 2008. FSG. [Source: Review copy]

I have mixed feelings on Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910-13. On the one hand, it is a fictional memoir based on an actual memoir. Much research was done to write this one. Perhaps just as much research as if it was a traditional nonfiction book. The author's love of the subject was evident throughout. The book is told primarily if not exclusively through the eyes of one of the men on the expedition, Apsley Cherry-Garrard. The exception being the few places where readers learn what happened to other members of the expedition. On the other hand, was it absolutely necessary to fictionalize a memoir in order to tell the story? I think there were things to be gained by such a decision, and, perhaps a few things lost.

Aside from the fact that this one doesn't really quite fit in as fiction or nonfiction, Emperors of the Ice was an interesting read. It was not quite as depressing as you might expect. I've read more depressing books on this subject certainly. The focus of this book is more on science and exploration than on the race to be first to the South Pole. This book argues that it was never about being first or being best. This book tells the basic story, but, it includes plenty of details. For example, I learned that one of the teams--science teams--went to the Antarctic to study emperor penguins. Their goal was to learn about the penguins and their eggs. It wasn't exactly learning by observation. Cherry was part of that team. I learned quite a few things.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Douglas Florian said...

My father would read books about the North Pole and the South Pole religiously, but I wouldn't call him Bi-polar. I'm intrigued to read what they learned about penguins.

Read and Tell with Brigi said...

Hm, sounds interesting. I haven't read books like this, I think I should start.

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