cover image Into the Great Emptiness: Peril and Survival on the Greenland Ice Cap

Into the Great Emptiness: Peril and Survival on the Greenland Ice Cap

David Roberts. Norton, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-86811-1

Climber Roberts (Alone on the Ice) recounts the story of “forgotten hero” Henry George “Gino” Watkins (1907–1932) and his 1930 Greenland expedition in this gripping narrative. The 23-year-old Englishman and his 13 teammates set sail in July with ambitions to survey Greenland’s little-known east coast and interior, collect data on the ice cap, and chart an air route from western Europe to North America. But the expedition didn’t go as planned: dangerous terrain, fierce storms, and temperatures below -50 degrees Fahrenheit derailed their efforts and threatened their lives. Roberts paints a vivid and suspenseful picture of the expedition as the team scrambled to rescue teammate August Courtauld, who was trapped alone at the weather station he manned with food stores running perilously low. Despite the mishaps, Roberts argues, Watkins’s scheme was still “the most daring and fruitful British expedition to the Far North during the previous half-century,” in large part due to Watkins’s success at earning his team’s unwavering loyalty, even through exceedingly arduous circumstances. Roberts knows how to tell a good story, and he draws on firsthand accounts from team members to depict their excursions in harrowing detail. Perfect for fans of adventure stories, this one hits all the marks. (July)