True North

Bookshelf: True North

True North – Gavin Francis

True North
True North

Let us continue our armchair travels in the Arctic, among polar bears, icebergs, misty bays where compasses fail to find north, and tundra inhabited by indigenous peoples. Gavin Francis is the author of Empire Antarctica, and in True North (which he actually wrote first) he travels to all the places I’d like to see in the Arctic circle.

He starts in the Shetland Islands, and progresses to the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Svalbard. He concludes in Lapland. Like Antarctica, the Arctic is cold, snowy, and hostile to life. Unlike Antarctica, however, it is home to several indigenous peoples, for the most part wonderfully adapted and exquisitely attuned to their environments. These people are also greatly challenged by the pace of change in the modern world, and by changing climate, and Francis describes a fierce intensity characterising the societies he encounters in Greenland and Iceland, in particular.

There is also the magnificent landscape, and a surprising (to me) depth of history to be found above the Arctic Circle. Francis proves an adept travel guide and historian, referring always to the writings of the explorers and travellers who first ventured into this part of the world. For most of his journey he backpacks, pitching his tent where he can. If you are planning a trip (real or imagined) to any of the places Francis describes in this book I would strongly recommend you read his account.

You can get the book here, here or here (South Africa).

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.