Antarctica: A Biography

Author(s): David Day

NZ Non Fiction

A groundbreaking history of human interaction with Antarctica, the last continent on earth. For centuries it was suspected that there must be an undiscovered continent in the southern hemisphere. But explorers failed to find one. On his second voyage to the Pacific, Captain James Cook sailed further south than any of his rivals but failed to sight land. It was not until 1820 that the continent's frozen coast was finally discovered and parts of the continent began to be claimed by nations that were intent on having it as their own. That rivalry intensified in the 1840s when British, American and French expeditions sailed south to chart further portions of the continent that had come to be called Antarctica. On and off for nearly two centuries, the race to claim exclusive possession of Antarctica has gripped the imagination of the world. Science was enlisted to buttress the rival claims as nations developed new ways of asserting territorial claims over land that was too forbidding to occupy. Although the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 was meant to end the rivalry, it has continued regardless, as new nations became involved and environmentalists, scientists and resource companies began to compete for control. Antarctica: A biography draws upon libraries and archives from around the world to provide the first, large-scale history of Antarctica. On one level, it is the story of explorers battling the elements in the most hostile place on earth as they strive for personal triumph, commercial gain and national glory. On a deeper level, it is the story of nations seeking to incorporate the Antarctic into their national narratives and to claim its frozen wastes as their own.


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David Day is a graduate of Melbourne and Cambridge Universities. After completing a thesis on Anglo-Australian relations in the Second World War, he went on to become a Junior Research Fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, before being appointed Associate Professor at Bond University in Queensland. In 1993, he was appointed Professor of Australian History at University College Dublin before later taking up a Senior Research Fellowship at La Trobe University in Melbourne. He has twice served as Professor of Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo, and been an Archives By-Fellow at Clare College Cambridge and is a visiting professor at the University of Aberdeen. He currently divides his time between Melbourne and Aberdeen. His many books include best-selling histories of the Second World War, biographies of Australian prime ministers and a study of Winston Churchill and Robert Menzies that has been made into a television documentary. He has also written a highly-praised history of Australia, Claiming a Continent, which has gone into several editions over the past ten years. His books have won or been short-listed for several literary prizes, with Claiming a Continent winning the prestigious non-fiction prize at the Adelaide Festival. His latest book, Conquest: How societies overwhelm others, has been published to acclaim in Australia, Britain and the United States and been translated into Spanish, Korean and Czech. He has appeared frequently on radio and television discussing his books and has been interviewed for several television documentaries. He has also appeared at literary festivals in Australia and the United Kingdom, several times spoken at the Sydney Institute and invited to address Australia's National Press Club. He has been a frequent contributor of op-ed pieces to newspapers in Australia, and has written on history and current affairs for publications ranging from History Today, the Monthly and HistoryScotland to the Wall Street Journal.

General Fields

  • : 9781741669084
  • : Random House Australia
  • : Vintage (Australia)
  • : February 2012
  • : 241mm X 161mm X 57mm
  • : Australia
  • : July 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : David Day
  • : Hardback
  • : 812
  • : en
  • : 998.9
  • : 400
  • : Black and white illustrations