Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Crystal Desert - David G Campbell

Subtitle: Summers in Antarctica

I spent several weeks in August reading this book.  I'd picked it up thinking it would be a travel memoir, telling what it was like to spend time in this most remote continent.  However, the author is a biologist and the story is more a unfolding of the natural history of the Antarctic, its inhabitants (penguins, birds, krill, lichen, whales, seals) and the explorers that have sought its shores.  Much of the story bogged down in too much detail for me of the life cycles of the creatures and plants found there.  He barely mentions his fellow scientists or his own feelings living for three summers in such isolation.  He described at one point the laborious preparations required to go outside and dive in the shallow waters of the bay to research its inhabitants.

In the final chapters he traces the history of the whaling industry and its affect on the species of whales.  He also notes in an Afterword how an accord was reached to keep Antarctica open to all countries.

Published:  1992   Read:   August 2013   Genre: Natural History

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