Author(s): David Day
Since the first sailing ships spied the Antarctic coastline in 1820, the frozen continent has captured the world's imagination. David Day's brilliant biography of Antarctica describes in fascinating detail every aspect of this vast land's history--two centuries of exploration, scientific investigation, and contentious geopolitics.Drawing from archives from around the world, Day provides a sweeping, large-scale history of Antarctica. Focusing on the dynamic personalities drawn to this unconquered land, the book offers an engaging collective biography of explorers and scientists battling the elements in the most hostile place on earth. We see intrepid sea captains picking their way past icebergs and pushing to the edge of the shifting pack ice, sanguinary sealers and whalers drawn south to exploit "the Penguin El Dorado," famed nineteenth-century explorers like Scott and Amundson in their highly publicized race to the South Pole, and aviators like Clarence Ellsworth and Richard Byrd, flying over great stretches of undiscovered land. Yet Antarctica is also the story of nations seeking to incorporate the Antarctic into their national narratives and to claim its frozen wastes as their own. As Day shows, in a place as remote as Antarctica, claiming land was not just about seeing a place for the first time, or raising a flag over it; it was about mapping and naming and, more generally, knowing its geographic and natural features. And ultimately, after a little-known decision by FDR to colonize Antarctica, claiming territory meant establishing full-time bases on the White Continent.The end of the Second World War would see one last scramble for polar territory, but the onset of the International Geophysical Year in 1957 would launch a cooperative effort to establish scientific bases across the continent. And with the Antarctic Treaty, science was in the ascendant, and cooperation rather than competition was the new watchword on the ice. Tracing history from the first sighting of land up to the present day, Antarctica is a fascinating exploration of this deeply alluring land and man's struggle to claim it.
David Day is a graduate of Melbourne and Cambridge Universities. After completing a thesis on Anglo-Australian relations in the Second World War, he went on to become a Junior Research Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, before being appointed Associate Professor at Bond University in Queensland. In 1993, he was appointed Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin before later taking up a Senior Research Fellowship at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He has twice served as Professor of Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo, and been an Archives By-Fellow at Clare College Cambridge and is a visiting professor at the University of Aberdeen. He currently divides his time between Melbourne and Aberdeen. His many books include best-selling histories of the Second World War, biographies of Australian prime ministers, and a study of Winston Churchill and Robert Menzies that has been made into a television documentary. He has also written a highly-praised history of Australia, Claiming a Continent, which has gone into several editions over the past ten years. His books have won or been short-listed for several literary prizes, with Claiming a Continent winning the prestigious non-fiction prize at the Adelaide Festival. His latest book, Conquest: How societies overwhelm others, has been published to acclaim in Australia, Britain and the United States, and been translated into Spanish, Korean and Czech. He has appeared frequently on radio and television discussing his books and has been interviewed for several television documentaries. He has also appeared at literary festivals in Australia and the United Kingdom, several times spoken at the Sydney Institute and invited to address Australia's National Press Club. He has been a frequent contributor of op-ed pieces to newspapers in Australia, and has written on history and current affairs for publications ranging from History Today, the Monthly and HistoryScotland to the Wall Street Journal.