30 January 2012

John Stewart, Antarctica: An Encyclopedia (second edition). Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011.

Antarctica is an impressive work, building on the 1990 edition with another four and a half years’ study of national gazetteers that brings the number of entries to over 30,000—covering every person, geographic feature, voyage, animal, and idea South of sixty degrees South.

The books are solid, of a good, readable off-white paper and seem well bound. They stay open to a page without difficulty and use suitably-sized, clean type and good white space for easy reading, and the entries can be both excruciatingly- thorough and surprisingly engaging. The story told by a whaling ship’s seasonal catches, or behind a place name, makes it easy to keep reading after checking an entry, and opening to any page will provide some pleasing tidbit.

Antarctica is, nonetheless, a very specific, and expensive, reference work which will be welcome in large research collections and out of scope for most others.

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