There’s an awful lot of Arctic going on at the moment. There is the National Maritime Museum’s exhibition on the Northwest Passage, Glyn Williams’s book on the same, and Andrew Lambert’s biography of Franklin, not to mention the intermittent geopolitical tremors as northern nations stake their claims to the area. Now Sara Wheeler joins the melee with The Magnetic North, a superb account of her circumpolar wanderings above the Arctic Circle.
Wheeler is best known as an Antarctic writer but here she has switched poles, drawn in part by what she describes as the north’s dignity and ‘opacity’. Perhaps more closely, however, she charts its steady destruction in the name of progress. In a series of short voyages, undertaken