The white continent; the story of Antarctica

by Thomas R. Henry

Hardcover, 1950

Status

Available

Publication

New York, Sloane [1951, c1950]

User reviews

LibraryThing member auntmarge64
Published in 1950, this is an overview of Antarctic history, exploration, geology, flora and fauna. The author was a journalist who accompanied a large U.S. Navy fleet commanded by Admirals Byrd and Cruzen in their Antarctic "High Jump" expedition of 1946-47. Although unsourced otherwise, the book quotes from and refers throughout to past accounts by explorers and to observations made by the author and others on the High Jump mission.

Henry's information is sometimes inaccurate (for instance, he claims that fur seals are extinct, which even in 1950 was known not to be true), but his descriptions of human interactions with animals encountered on the expedition are evocative and sure to encourage further reading. So are his depictions of visual and weather phenomena and ice coloring. The chapters on geology are a bit slow-going, but these are more than made up for in the remaining chapters on mid-century air exploration, early assumptions about the far south (it was warmer because it was further south, and was therefore a tropical paradise; the earth is hollow and an opening into the center would be found in Antarctica); and, most intriguingly, Henry's thoughts on how Antarctica might be of use to the rest of the world, as
- a food freezer in case of famine
- a health resort (the air is pure)
- fertile land (after melting the ice with plutonium bombs)

So, well-written, entertaining and informative, but not to be taken too seriously without checking more recent sources. Definitely enjoyable for the enthusiast of all things Antarctica, though.
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