Research Blog Antarctica #39

Non-fiction: David G. Campbell: The Crystal Desert – Summers in Antarctica (Mariner Books, 2002)

A slightly generic account of an American scientist’s stay at a Brazilian Antarctic station. Perhaps unfortunately I would have been interested in reading about the particulars of the Brazilian Antarctic program, but Campbell is interested in writing a general account of Antarctic biology, peppered with some anecdotes about his personal experiences.

His prose style is a bit dense, florid enough to make the text resist reading. I started reading this on an airplane after sleeping for only 45 minutes the previous night and hauling 50 kilos of luggage for three metro stops on foot in Paris because the metro didn’t run in the middle of the night, so it’s possible I didn’t approach this book from the best possible direction.

Still, Campbell writes about life, and especially marine biology, with the zeal of a believer, and his descriptions are very evocative. The historical material he goes through concerning sealing and whaling is old to me, but he tells it well. He quotes extensively from his source material of whaler diaries and so forth, which is good.

Perhaps the most grabbing detail of the book was mentioned in passing: turns out the government of South Africa admitted in 1992 that the mystery Antarctic nuclear detonation of 1979 was a joint Israeli – South African nuclear test.

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