This fascinating book is about Polar Exploration to both the Arctic and Antarctic regions in the first half of the 19th Century. It is related not from the standpoint of one of the great explorer captains but through the eyes of Thomas Abernethy from Peterhead.
Abernethy went to sea when he was 12 and after a four year apprenticeship he joined a whaling ship sailing out of Peterhead. His five years in whalers taught him much about the incredible hardships of life in the Arctic. He then joined the Royal Navy initially as an Able Seaman but rising in rank eventually to be a senior non-commissioned officer. He was awarded no less than five Polar Medals for his Arctic journeys involving the search for the North-West Passage and, latterly in his career, in the search for Sir John Franklin
However Abernethy, in addition to his seven winters and thirteen summers in the Arctic, also spent three winters and four summers in the Antarctic. Abernethy held the very rare distinction of having been ”furthest north” and “furthest South”.
With such a record why isn’t Abernethy far better known? The author concludes it was because he “was neither an officer nor a gentleman”. With this book Alex Buchan has remedied that omission and given us all the opportunity to hear the remarkable story of Thomas Abernethy
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