In humankind’s history there have been many ages of discovery, but few that surmise the arduousness and strength of human endurance than Antarctica. Yet Antarctica, much as the race to the Moon, has its forgotten heroes, and it is here that John Harrison redresses this balance in Forgotten Footprints.
For those looking for a concise and detailed history of the discovery of Antarctica then Forgotten Footprints is much more. John Harrison has compiled a breathtaking account not only of some of those whose names are household names, namely James Ross and Ernest Shackleton but celebrated those who we’ve left behind, the unknowns in the discovery of this vast landscape which captured not just the imagination of explorers but also increased our scientific understanding of our natural world. Indeed, we owe these brave adventurers a great deal.
However, not all of this history is a celebration of daring deeds, as wherever humans enter there is inevitably bloodshed, and the effects of our exploitation of the whale and seal industries are still being felt today, even after decades since these industries have been banned and received worldwide condemnation, the damage to our natural world heals very slowly.
However, explorers such as Thaddeus Bellinghausen, Nathaniel Palmer, James Weddell, Jules Durmont D’Urville and Jean Baptiste Charcot are just some of the names that have been long forgotten in our transient age of temporary information, much like those who joined the space program before the launch of Apollo 11, many of the names have been forgotten to the outside world, yet it is these intrepid explorers who dared push further to lead the way to our current knowledge of the world around us.
In Forgotten Footprints, John Harrison weaves a rich tapestry of history and adventure, with each page being as immediate as the last, made all the more authentic with Harrison has himself spent a fair amount of the time travelling in and around Antarctica, making Forgotten Footprints a compelling book for our twenty-first century and onwards.
- Forgotten Footprints by John Harrison is published by Parthian Book (£15.99). To order a copy go to www.parthianbooks.com
Founder and Editor of Pilgrim House, currently undertaking a research degree at Bangor University and working on a book on Folklore and early Welsh Christianity. Tom’s other work on music, poetry, health along other writings and images can be found at tomasstanger.com