After writing two highly praised travel books, Sara Wheeler was invited by the American government to be the 1994 ‘Writer in Residence at the US South Pole Station’. She spent six weeks at the pole and on the edge of the infamous Ross Ice Shelf which finally defeated Fiennes and Stroud in their recent unsupported Antarctic crossing. She then joined the British Antarctic Survey for a month on the other side where oil and minerals are rich but too expensive to extract. She looked at how people live on the bases and how the landscape affects them. For her, Antarctica functions as Patagonia did for Bruce Chatwin, the myths and history carrying as much import as the ration of two two-minute showers a week or how the inhabitants let off steam and avoid hating each other in confined quarters.
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