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Gouldthorpe, Peter: Ice, Wind, Rock.

** GOULDTHORPE, Peter Ice, Wind, Rock Lothian, 2013 32pp $28.99 ISBN 9780734411556 SCIS 1602008


In Ice, Wind, Rock, Peter Gouldthorpe honours the heroism and achievement of the great Australian Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson. The book focuses on the multi-pronged Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-14 and particularly the epic journeying of the ill-fated Far Eastern Party of which Mawson was the leader.

It begins however with young Mawson starting an academic career in geology. This led him to be appointed to Shackleton's 1908 British Antarctic Expedition. It was such a tough experience that he vowed never to return. The fact that he did return, as leader of his own expedition, demonstrates the tenacity for which he became famous and which is amply illustrated in this book. History shows that Mawson was lucky to survive, his two companions having perished in a trek that was beset with horrible misfortune. To add to Mawson's woes, like Burke and Wills he missed by just hours the search party sent after him, forcing him to endure another winter in Antarctica.

Mawson's story is full of drama and incident upon an exotic, unforgiving landscape in a place of extreme climate. The narrative relates Mawson's travails in sufficient detail with some excellent phrasing that clearly evokes both the beauty and the danger of the place. However, it is the superb realism of the illustration that shows what a lonely, dangerous place it is for men to trek across its vast, windswept distances. Mawson and his men are small in an infinity of gloomy greyness, the land is as furrowed as a ploughed field in drifts of snow turned to ice, crevasses open up into great inky blue abysses; Gouldthorpe has masterfully depicted Mawson's experience in painted full-page and spread scenes as well as scratchboard vignettes that illustrate the small details from the golden age of Antarctic exploration. Highly recommended.

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Author:Steinberger, Kevin
Publication:Reading Time
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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