Gripping tale

gino-in-kayak

“This engrossing book tells the story of two Arctic expeditions. In 1930 a 23-year old Englishman named Gino Watkins took a motley band of young adventurers to East Greenland, ostensibly to explore the possibility of a trans-Arctic air route. Some 60 years later another remarkable young man, Earl de Blonville, returned to the same unforgiving coast to lead an expedition that was largely inspired by Watkins’s dangerous appeal. As Gino’s nephew, I was brought up with only the legend of his life, since the man himself had vanished in an icy fjord when aged only 25. De Blonville makes this legend real, partly with a forensic re-appraisal of Gino, but more vividly with his no-holds-barred account of his own expedition. This is a gripping tale of extraordinary complexity. As one would expect of an Arctic adventure, there are crescendos of excitement, with storms, near-fatal incidents and shipwrecks. But this derring-do is counterbalanced with a more thought-provoking theme, involving disappointments, betrayals and self-doubt. For Gino, the appeal of the Arctic lay largely in the solitude. Perhaps most explorers share the same desire to escape the social world to pursue a private dream. But for any expedition to survive extreme conditions, its members must be prepared to live and work as a team. ‘Hell is other people’, as Jean-Paul Sartre observed. If that axiom is true of a Parisian café, it is, as de Blonville shows, still more so in an Arctic tent.”

Hamish Scott

Scotland.

Hamish’s father, Jamie Scott, was Watkins’ sledging partner and biographer

Published by earldeblonville

Author.

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