Sara Wheeler rss

USS Jeanette Photo: Getty

The greatest American Arctic disaster

7 February 2015
In the Kingdom of Ice Hampton Sides

Oneworld, pp.454, £20, ISBN: 9781780745213

In the course of the 19th century, various flotillas of expeditions hastened to the polar regions in little wooden ships which sooner or later expired in the pincers of an… Read more


A paralysed landscape

10 March 2012
Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of the World’s Most Mysterious Continent Gabrielle Walker

Bloomsbury, pp.388, 20

‘Very, very, very sexy’, a field-researcher scratches in his Antarctic notebook. He is describing a meteorite the size of a £1 coin that he has just picked up off the… Read more

A new world in the making

20 August 2011
Tocqueville and His America: A Darker Horizon Arthur Kaledin

Yale, pp.440, 30,

Alexis de Tocqueville is a prophet for all seasons, continually reinterpreted as the zeitgeist shifts. He sailed to Jacksonian America to compile a report on the prison system, and ended… Read more


Way out west

21 August 2010
Lighting Out For the Territory Roy Morris Jr

v, pp.282, 17.99

This year America celebrates the cent-enary of Mark Twain’s death. This year America celebrates the cent-enary of Mark Twain’s death. He is the nearest that country gets to a national… Read more

The iceman cometh

3 September 2008
True North: Travels in Arctic Europe Gavin Francis

Polygon, pp.266, 9.99

True North: Travels in Arctic Europe, by Gavin Francis This is an old-fashioned travel book of the linear variety. Roaming the northern fringes of Europe with a tent and a… Read more


Lust in a hot climate

7 May 2008
The Bolter Frances Osborne

Virago, pp.316, 18.99

This sprightly book recounts the life of Idina Sackville, the author’s great-grandmother. A glamorous aristocrat with a penchant for scandal, she married and divorced five times and was a protagonist… Read more

The year of the rat

22 January 2005
Rats Robert Sullivan

Granta, pp.256, 12

‘Ah,’ Robert Sullivan exclaims in this artful book, ‘the excitement, the nail-biting and palpably semi-wild thrill of ratting in the city!’ An otherwise apparently sane American writer and journalist, Sullivan… Read more

Serving Christ and colonialism

29 March 2003
The Sword and the Cross Fergus Fleming

Granta, pp.350, 20

Fergus Fleming is the author of three volumes of narrative history, the best of which, Barrow’s Boys, gives a rollicking account of 19th-century Arctic exploration. Now he has lighted on… Read more