The Tantalising theory of a huge southern continent, Terra Australis Incognita, had haunted the imaginations of countles geographers throughout history. Not until the second of his great voyages in 1773 did James Cook finally lay the theory to rest. This wonderfully written book tells the story of British, American and Russian expeditions, from the astonomers Halley's voyage in the Paramore in 1699 to the sealer John Balleny's 1839 voyage in the Eliza Scott, all in search of land, fur or elephant seals. These were voyages for science, national prestige and profit. Life was incredibly harsh: crews had poor provisions and inadequate clothing and were constantly threatened by scurvy. Often they had their own charts as they sailed in the stormy waters of the Southern Ocean below the convergence. that sea frontier marking the boundry between the freezing Antarctic waters and the warmer sub-Antarctic seas. These seamen were the first to discover and exploit a new continent, which was not the verdant southern island they imagined but an inhospitable expanse of r ock and ice, ringed by pack ice and icebergs-Antarctica.