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Where the Earth Ends [Paperback]

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Item description for Where the Earth Ends by John Harrison...

The South American travels of a fourth generation explorer.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   417
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.35" Width: 5.35" Height: 1.26"
Weight:   1.06 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 4, 2006
Publisher   Parthian Books
ISBN  1902638689  
ISBN13  9781902638683  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Harrison

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Harrison has a lifelong interest in wildlife, and birds in particular. In 1973 he was appointed as a radio producer in the BBC Natural History Unit; during the 18 years he was there, he worked with most of the top naturalists and ornithologists in Britain. He now works on a voluntary basis as
Press Officer with the Wildlife Trust in Bristol. As a birdwatcher and wildlife enthusiast, he has made many visits to Sri Lanka over a number of years, and has a first-hand knowledge of the Sri Lankan avifauna.
Tim Worfolk is a full-time wildlife artist with several publications to his credit. Amongst others, he has worked on the Handbook of the Birds of the World, Pica Press Shrikes of the World, Birds of South-East Asia published by New Holland, and Birds of the Indian Subcontinent, by Black.

John Harrison currently resides in the state of Hawaii. John Harrison was born in 1919.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
2Books > Subjects > Reference > Writing > Travel Writing
3Books > Subjects > Travel > General > Essays & Travelogues
4Books > Subjects > Travel > Polar Regions > Antarctica

Reviews - What do customers think about Where the Earth Ends?

Interesting travelogue and account of the human and natural history of Tierra del Fuego   Mar 5, 2007
_Where the Earth Ends_ by John Harrison is an informative and entertaining travelogue and history of southernmost South America, mostly about the lands of Tierra del Fuego but also other areas of Chile as well as the author's travels to Antarctica and Juan Fernandez Island.

Harrison from an early age had wanted to visit this region of the world. His great-grandfather had sailed past the Horn in the great square-riggers, his grandfather sailed the Horn in steam and diesel, and the author himself had grown up reading accounts of the region, always wanting to "sail the waters of Coleridge's albatross and enter the watercolors' blue horizons and sit on Crusoe's imaginary shore."

The indigenous inhabitants of the region were of great interest to the author as he provided accounts of their long lost ways of life, stories of first contact with Europeans, and sale tales of his seeking out the last full-blooded members of various tribes or information on extinct groups. The reader will learn something about the Tehuelche Indians (the name literally meaning "people of the South"), a people who once lived in toldos (guanaco skin tents) and hunted not with bows or arrows but with bolas. They later became such excellent horseman that several brought home the top lassoing and riding prizes from the 1904 St Louis World Fair, beating American cowboys and South American gauchos. Another Indian group was the Yamana, who once lived in shelters made of branches and beech leaves along the shores of the straits. They ate great quantities of mussels, throwing the shells outside the door, moving the door around as the wind changed; eventually, circular middens of trash grew up and were colonized by various plants fond of the calcium-rich waste. These circles are common in the area.

Most Indian tribes seemed to have perished from disease and/or assimilation, but some were actively destroyed. The nomadic Selk'nam for instanced didn't build canoes or fish, but hunted guanaco. When the settlers came, drove off the guanaco, and brought in sheep, the Selk'nam hunted the sheep, and in turn the settlers hunted them. Bounties were placed on them, made on production of an Indian's ears.

Much of the history of the region revolved around shipwrecks and mutinies. At Puerto San Julian, Ferdinand Magellan had to contend with a mutiny in April of 1520, when three of his five ships came under the control of rebel officers. Fifty-eight years later, Francis Drake in the very same spot (some of Drake's men made souvenirs out of parts of Magellan's ship that were found) had to contend with his own mutiny. In between that time, twenty-one other ships had been unable to repeat Magellan's trip, either wrecking or being forced to return home, and many other ships wrecked in the centuries since then, several vividly described by the author.

Some ships were wrecked deliberately. Harrison visited the sunken hulk of a once great clipper ship. Once the _County of Peebles_ which under clouds of canvas could reach 14 knots even in light winds rounding the Horn, it was now a partially sunken ship and part of a pier. Square-rigged sailing ships remained in service long after steamships had replaced them throughout most of the world because it could take months to unload two or three thousand tons of cargo (chiefly copper ore at first but later nitrates, much of it the product of vast seabird colonies). As steamers could not afford to be idle so long, what finally put the sailing ships out of business was not it seems replacement by steam ships but rather the invention of methods to synthesize nitrates at home in Europe.

Not all disasters and sad tales involved ships. One story Harrison related was that of Captain Allen F. Gardiner, one of the first missionaries to attempt to work in the region and a "walking evangelical catastrophe...of a masochistic brand of religion." His 1850 mission plagued by hostile natives, lost supplies, storms, scurvy, and starvation, everyone on it died, leaving behind diary entries.

The author visited many of the cities and towns of the region. He spent a good deal of time in Ushuaia, Argentina which is billed as the southernmost city in the world, a city originally founded by missionaries. Another Feugian town he visited was that of Puerto Williams, the most southerly town in the world, founded in 1953 to help consolidate Chile's claims to Antarctic territory.

Interestingly, for many years the Chilean and Argentinean governments believed that the only way to settle the south was for convicts to build the town's infrastructure and for settlers to follow; Punta Arenas in 1842 was the first, which began with 600 convicts and prison guards. In 1851, there were 248 prisoners and families, 144 soldiers, and 44 free civilians. The next year new arrivals found ashes and skeletons, not a single survivor.

Harrison saw a great deal of wildlife on his trip. He visited a Chilean colony of Magellanic penguins, 130,000 strong, and interviewed a researcher who had been working with them for twelve years. On his way to Antarctica the author viewed wandering and black-browed albatrosses, various petrels (which he said were named after St. Peter because sailors saw them pattering on the water), Minke whales, and dolphins. While in Antarctica he saw Adelie and gentoo penguins, snowy sheathbills, and leopard and elephant seals among others.

The author spent some time considering the albatross that was shot in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the _Ancient Mariner_ and the one shot by a man by the name of Simon Hatley in 1726 (described in a book on the voyages of George Shelvocke around the world and a source of inspiration for Coleridge).

Another detective story the author related was the search for Elizabeth Island, a place discovered by Drake in 1578. For many years regarded as a lie or an erroneous report, later researchers determined that the island had been volcanic and had sunk beneath the waves.
A recommended pick  Sep 24, 2006
In 1996 a former town planner took his first trip to Patagonia, an experience which would change his life and which was inspired by the earlier travels of a sailor great-grandfather. His exploration of the island where the real Robinson Crusoe was shipwrecked and his discovery of native tribes, exploitation of native peoples and harsh environment comes to life in a 'you are there' adventure travel guide, a recommended pick for any who would visit the region from the comfort of an armchair.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
Hands-on, Poetic Tour of Patagonia and Environs  Apr 30, 2005
A thoughtful, informed and sometimes wry travel book, a welcome addition/update to Chatwin's "In Patagonia" and Wheeler's "Travels In a Thin Country."

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