> Skip to content
  • Published: 15 May 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099516880
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $24.99
Categories:

The Magnetic North

Travels in the Arctic




Over a decade after her exploration of the Antarctic in Terra Incognita, Sara Wheeler uncovers the beautiful, brutal reality of the Arctic.


'Sara Wheeler is the literary maestro of the earth's frozen regions... The prose is startling and sharp-edged as the icy landscapes themselves' Financial Times
Smashing through the Arctic Ocean with the crew of a Russian icebreaker, herding reindeer across the tundra with Lapps and shadowing the Trans-Alaskan pipeline with truckers, Sara Wheeler discovers a complex and ambiguous land belonging both to ancient myth and modern controversy.

The Magnetic North is an adroit combination of history, science and reflection in which Wheeler meditates on the role of the Arctic: fragmented lands which fed imaginations long before the scientists and oilmen showed up (not to mention desperado explorers who ate their own shoes).

The Magnetic North tells of all this, plus gulag ghosts, old and new Russia, colliding cultures and bioaccumulated toxins in polar bears.

'A stylish and engaging account of some of the world's most mysterious, unknowable spots and, like the best travel writing, is infused with the writer's reflections on growing up, life and death' Daily Telegraph

  • Published: 15 May 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099516880
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $24.99
Categories:

About the author

Sara Wheeler

Sara Wheeler’s books include the international bestseller Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica, of which the Telegraph reviewer wrote, ‘I do not think there will ever be a better book on the Antarctic.’ The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle, was chosen as Book of the Year by Will Self, Michael Palin, A. N. Wilson and others. She has published two biographies of travellers: Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard, and Too Close to the Sun: The Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton, and was immensely relieved to write about women at last in O My America!. She lives in London.

Also by Sara Wheeler

See all

Praise for The Magnetic North

Wheeler's beautiful language and riveting narrative add up to a powerful account of what is at stake and what has already been lost

Irish Times

A wise, provoking and zestful chronicle, poetic, often tragic and always engaging. Wheeler, a prolific raconteur of distant places, has created the finest book on the Arctic since Hugh Brody's The Other Side of Eden

Rory MacLean, Sunday Times

An excellent narrator, intelligent, amusing, poetic and down to earth

Fergus Fleming, Literary Review

Her adventurous spirit, tireless intelligence, and joy shine through...a rare and precious talent

Roger Hutchinson, Scotsman

A funny, entertaining and humane piece of writing

Jeremy Lewis, The Oldie

Sara Wheeler is the literary maestro of the earth's frozen regions... The prose is startling and sharp-edged as the icy landscapes themselves

Harry Eyres, Financial Times, Travel Books of the Year

Beautiful and terrifying

Christopher Summerville, The Times, Christmas Books

Irresistibly attractive ... coddling hoosh of personal travelogue, historical anecdotage and speculative thinking

New Statesman, Books of 2009, Will Self

Beautiful and terrifying

The Times

It is the warmth and the honesty of the portraits that is Wheeler's forte

The Tablet

Wheeler is excellent company for the journey, with her observations on the consequences of our actions always well balanced and open-minded

Big Issue

Is an entertaining mix of popular science, history and reportage, wrapped up in some seriously fine writing

Katherine Hughes, The Mail on Sunday

Wonderful account of her journeys through the region

Simon Kuper, Financial Times

It is a testament to the author's ability that the text never lurches into despondency- above all, this is a book that celebrates the inspiring endurance and colourful past of those who populate the area

Sebastian Clare, Irish Times

Carries lightly a depth of research that gives alarming edge to Wheeler's engrossing

James Urquhart, Financial Times

Quite wonderful

Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

A chilling and fascinating work

Guardian

Her writing, while brilliantly evocative, is never overblown... If you are lucky you might get to travel in the Arctic yourself; if you don't, this book is the next best thing

Erica Wagner, The Times

One of the greatest travel books of our times - poignant, funny, a delight to read

Christopher Hirst, The Independent

[Has] a meditative, often melancholy, quality that tells us a lot about what it's like to simply be in the Arctic...the author deftly weaves in some nicely crafted vignettes that illuminate various aspects of the Arctic experience

Jonathan Dore, Times Literary Supplement

Elegant prose ... a stylish and engaing account of some of the world's most mysterious, unknowable spots and, like the best travel writing, is infused with the writer's reflections on growing up, life and death

Clover Stroud, Telegraph

[Wheeler brings] and open-eyed sense of salutary wisdom and timely protest to her view of the Arctic Ocean and its surrounds

Tom Adair, The Scotsman

An ambitious, adventurous, well-researched, spirited account

Robert Carver, The Tablet

Wheeler's book teaches a lot about what is happening in the far north, which is valuable

Kathleen James, Guardian

In its many-layered discoveries, the book is truly magnetic

Jane Knight, The Times

Related titles