True North: Travels in Arctic Europe

True NorthTrue North: Travels in Arctic Europe by Gavin Francis.

The stark, vast beauty of the remote Arctic Europe landscape has been the focus of human exploration for thousands of years. 

Following in the footsteps of the region’s early pioneers, Francis sets his compass and travels in the tracks of early explorers of the North, following their searches for ultima Thule, the furthest North, the limits of the known world.  Starting in Unst, the northernmost of of the Shetland Isles, he travels to the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, the Sápmi area of northern Scandinavia, and the Svalbard Archipelago.

Weaving together history and travelogue, and bringing in the stories of historical figures including Pytheas, Brendan the Navigator and Fridtjof Nansen, Francis focuses on the idea of North, and the imprint that it leaves on the imagination of the individual.  Francis observes how the region has adapted to the 21st century, giving an observed insight into the lives of people he encounters along the way.  The immediacy of the writing, and the strongly visual element envoked when describing the vast, stark landscapes make Francis an ideal companion for exploring the North of the map and the North of the mind.

True North: Travels in Arctic Europe was nominated for a William Mills Prize for Polar Books.  Find it on Goodreads.

Read it and travel to: Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Norway and Finland.


4 thoughts on “True North: Travels in Arctic Europe

  1. broadsideblog June 13, 2013 / 15:38

    You might enjoy another book on this topic, which I recently read. It’s about the North American Arctic, a place I visited as a journalist for all of 24 hours (!) in 1985…but never forgot. It’s an amazing environment few people will ever see or appreciate.

    • vickyinglis June 13, 2013 / 16:14

      I started reading Arctic Dreams whilst I was in Norway, and I’m nearly finished it now. I love the author’s writing; beautiful, clear prose and lyrical descriptions of the place and wildlife. Definitely recommended.

      • broadsideblog June 13, 2013 / 19:13

        Cool! Pun intended. It was a little exhaustive for my taste, but filled with great points…

      • vickyinglis June 13, 2013 / 22:28

        It’s something to dip into now and again, rather than read all in one go, which is why it’s taken me so long to finish. I read the chapter on polar bears just before visiting Hammerfest and joining the Royal and Ancient Society of Polar Bears, which was rather appropriate.

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