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Mountains Of Madness: A Scientist's Odyssey In Antarctica

by John Long

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From Publishers Weekly
Antarctica, once the center of the prehistoric supercontinent Gondwana, contains some of the richest and best-preserved fossil deposits in the world. Long, a paleontologist, recounts his two expeditions (in 1988 and 1992) to Antarctica to recover some of these fossils. He relates details ranging from the thrilling to the mundane, describing plane rides to Antarctica, life at the base camp and his actual fieldwork. In a down-to-earth and often funny manner, he conveys a sense of the daily routine of a scientist living at the bottom of the world. At times the lay reader might get bogged down by some of Long's technical lexicon, but for the most part the author successfully intersperses accessible passages about the crew's more banal activitiesDcooking (including some recipes for Antarctic delicacies), celebrating Christmas, and playing in the snowDwith the passages concerning his work. Because these trips constitute Long's introduction to the continent, the book maintains a tone of immediacy and an infectious spirit of discovery, effectively articulating the awe experienced by first-time visitors upon confronting Antarctica's danger and beauty. Long supplements his own words with quotations from a variety of texts ranging from the diaries of famous Antarctic explorers to H.P. Lovecraft's fictional horror tale At the Mountain of Madness, from which this book takes its title. Although the narrative may not have enough action to satisfy hardcore exploration and adventure readers, it provides an informative, well-written and deliberate account of contemporary paleontological research, and presents some interesting theories on how Antarctica's resources could help solve certain environmental crises. Long's book should appeal to lay and professional readers interested in current scientific and ecological study. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Washington Post Book World, April 15, 2001
Long is at his best when describing the fossil finds.

Rain Taxi Review of Books, Summer 2001
In addition to a travelogue, though, Mountains of Madness is also an account of Long's fascinating paleontological work.

Discover.com, May 2001
"...a fascinating account of his two expeditions to Antarctica's remote Cook Mountains, a virtually untouched fossil hunter's paradise."

ICE CAP NEWS, July-Sept. 2001
"Long's gripping story, told in the first person, brings the excitement and dangers of Antarctica to life."

“...an interesting read for scientists who have worked in Antarctica and for the general public...interested in polar exploration."

PALAIOS, February 2002
"...very readable memoir. I recommend this book to anyone with curiosity about the southern continent..."

New Scientist, Feb. 10, 2001
"Long comes over as a dogged, cheerful character in whose company you might be happy to spend a field season."

SFRA REVIEW, Jan-Feb 2002
"Writing in a pleasnt, informal style, the author describes what it's really like to be a researcher…in the Transarctic Mountains."

Publisher's Weekly, Nov. 27, 2000
"...an infectious spirit of discovery...an informative, well-written and deliberate account of contemporary paleontological research."

British Bulletin of Publications, April 2002
"...straightforward, eminently readable, and variously humorous, dramatic, and emotional. ...an unusual and enjoyable pleasure."

Book Description
Mountains of Madness is a moving tale of science, exploration, and human endurance. It is the story of how real science is practiced in a unique and demanding setting. Rather than a presentation of research findings, this book recounts what life is like in the field, where scientists come close to sacrificing their very lives for the sake of advancing human knowledge. Like the polar explorers from the early 1900s in whose footsteps they follow, this team of scientists face the unknown and the unpredictable in the pure and simple quest for knowledge.

Book Info
A detailed account of the author's explorations of the continent of Antarctica in 1988 and 1991, including the practical side of the adventure, such as the times spent in tents when the weather was too severe to venture out, and the dangerous conditions like avalanches and other scares. DLC: Long, John A. 1957- --Journeys--Antarctica-Transantarctic Mountains.



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