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Erebus: The Story of a Ship

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But his relationship with Sir John Franklin was less happy: indeed Crozier sometimes feigned illness to avoid having to dine with him. Some reviewers have complained that not enough time was spent discussing the Franklin expedition, but honestly, that's not what I was reading this for. The ship was filled with fascinating people: the dashing and popular James Clark Ross, who charted much of the ‘Great Southern Barrier’; the troubled John Franklin, whose chequered career culminated in the Erebus 's final, disastrous expedition; and the eager Joseph Dalton Hooker, a brilliant naturalist – when he wasn't shooting the local wildlife dead. This book has everything a common history book has - using lots and lots of primary sources to tell the story, conjecture with gobs of OTOH-BOTOH (on the one hand, but on the other hand), and weaving additional levels of complexity into a story. Despite a lifetime interest in history and travel, I am ashamed to confess that until I read this book neither the names of the ships nor the names of their famous crew were known to me.

Erebus: The Story of a Ship is a biography of the voyage that was mentioned in Conrad's book, Heart of Darkness. It’s a fascinating story that he brings full-bloodedly to life , stripping away the barnacles of the past to reveal the hidden history of a ship. Nautical information functions as ballast for the narrative: “Her hull was strengthened with 6-inch thick oak planking, increasing to 8 inches at the gunwale, to make a 3-foot-wide girdle”, and so on. Apart from Danger Islets, there is Cape Longing, Cape Disappointment, Delusion Point and Exasperation Bay, only slightly compensated for by Useful Island on the other side of the peninsula"; чи сценка на російському кораблі, де команда захоплюється, що в них пливе справжній кіноактор, а Пейлін соромиться розказати, що його остання роль - це Молотов у "Смерті Сталіна").The one complaint that I would have about this book is the way that Palin brings modern sensibilities to bear on the efforts of these intrepid explorers: I don't need to be told that imperialism, the extermination of native peoples, and the over-extraction of natural resources – and in particular, animals – isn't justified by “the spirit of Enlightenment”. There are plenty of quotes from those on-board at the time providing a very real sense of the journey and what they got up to.

He reviews Erebus’s time in Antarctica under James Clark Ross, as well her time under John Franklin, where she ended her tenure.

An anxious, pessimistic man by nature, he had dark forebodings about Erebus’s final, disastrous journey. When I made a journey to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2014 the sight of a single whale was enough to bring everyone out on deck, reaching for cameras and binoculars.

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