The Polar World: A Popular Description of Man and Nature in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions of the Globe

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The German scientific writer Georg Hartwig (1813-80) produced many popular works on geographical and natural history topics, among them this book, published in English in 1869. (An American version, with additional chapters, came out in the same year.) Unusually for the period, it surveyed exploration in the Antarctic as well as the Arctic, though the coverage of the latter makes up the bulk of the book. Hartwig's intention is 'to convey solid instruction under an entertaining form', combining the history of exploration with descriptions of the polar regions explored by the mid-century, including Siberia as well as the islands and ice packs of the Arctic Ocean. In this very readable work, Hartwig describes geography, geology and climate, as well as the survival strategies of plant, animal and human life in an extreme environment, using a very wide range of earlier published material to create an integrated narrative.