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  • Published: 1 February 2011
  • ISBN: 9781409088806
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 368

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.

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 uncovers the beautiful, brutal reality of the Arctic.

When she puts up her tent on the top of the Greenland ice sheet, she experiences climate change at the sharp (and cold) end. The Magnetic North is a spicy confection of history, science and reflection in which Wheeler meditates on the role of the Arctic in public and in private. The fragmented circumpolar lands were a repository of myth long before the scientists and oilmen showed up (not to mention desperado explorers who ate their own shoes), and the hinterland north of the tree line has fed literary imaginations from Dickens to Chekhov. The Magnetic North tells of all this, plus gulag ghosts, old and new Russia, colliding cultures and bioaccumulated toxins in polar bears.

  • Published: 1 February 2011
  • ISBN: 9781409088806
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 368

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

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Praise for The Magnetic North

A superb account of her circumpolar wanderings..." "Wheeler is an excellent narrator, intelligent, amusing, poetic and down to earth

Fergus Fleming, Literary Review

Wheeler writes about travel so well because she delights in travelling. Her adventurous spirit, tireless intelligence, joy and with hshine through even the saddest page of The Magnetic North... she has a rare and precious talent

Roger Hutchinson, Scotsman

A fusion of history and myth...elegant and intelligent

Books Quarterly

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

Kathleen James, The Guardian

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

An ambitious, adventurous, well-researched, spirited account

Robert Carver, The Tablet

[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

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

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

[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

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

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

Christopher Hirst, The Independent

Provoking, zestful and always engaging

Rory MacLean, The Sunday Times

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

A chilling and fascinating work


Quite wonderful

Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

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

James Urquhart, 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

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

Jane Knight, The Times

The Magnetic North is 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, The Sunday Times

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