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Notable New Books

Jan 1, 2003

North to the Night - A Year in the Arctic Ice by Alvah Simon For whatever reason, the author and his wife decided to sail their steel ketch as far north as possible and lock themselves in Arctic ice for a long, dark winter. It would seem that, given the setting, there is not much substance for a book: ice and darkness, darkness and ice. Alvah Simon approached the challenge of wintering in the Arctic passionately and methodically, addressing each potential problem as required, talking to people who knew the Arctic wilderness, and reading the countless tales of bitter adventure by explorers like Peary and MacMillan. North to the Night is an extraordinary account of how to prepare for the ultimate endeavor and how to survive every conceivable misery with clarity and humor.

Alvah Simon's is the best kind of adventure story, full of harsh conditions and narrow escapes, but of equal value is what it can teach the reader about preparing for any voyage. Considering his careful respect for Inuit culture and the natural environment, his book ranks easily with the best travel writing, making it much more than a simple voyaging narrative.

International Marine/McGraw Hill,Camden, Maine; 304 pages; $24.95; 800-262-4729.