The subtitle of Gavin Francis’ travel memoir would be a reasonably concise answer to the question: “What comes to mind when you think of Antarctica?”. While ice and emperor penguins are the more obvious responses to be expected from those who have never been there, it is the silence of such a remote landscape which Francis dwells on in his account of the fourteen months he spent as the base-camp doctor at the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley research station on the Caird Coast. What becomes clear from reading ‘Empire Antarctica’ is that claustrophobia and isolation are also major factors, although that would have made a much less satisfying book title. Continue reading
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Four More Books I’ve Read This Summer
I blogged about Jon Ronson’s talk at the Hay Festival earlier this year which was about his latest book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. I read it a couple of weeks after attending the Festival and it is by far the most terrifying book I’ve read this year. Shame is one of the most powerful yet least talked-about human emotions and Ronson examines the dark consequences of shaming people on social media, usually after they have said or done something politically incorrect. Having already heard Ronson talk about the main content of the book such as the Justine Sacco and Jonah Lehrer cases, there were fewer elements of surprise for me when reading it as some of the material was already familiar. However, Ronson’s observations on the subject are very astute and he has chosen an interesting range of examples for the book. Although ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’ doesn’t provide any real “answers” as to why people shame others, it is a thought-provoking look at the very modern phenomenon of online mob justice. Continue reading
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