... fascinating and encyclopedic ... prose so lucid it’s easy to overlook its elegance ... Gertner manages a magic trick, transforming his hybrid book from one of physical to intellectual adventure. For though the Arctic journeys become boring tractor rides and the scientists are, alas, less memorable than the roguish adventurers, the drama of discovery skates the narrative forward ... the book completes its last metamorphosis, from a scientific history into a submission to the ever-growing canon of climate change literature ... But unlike other recent books that have captured the public’s attention with excruciating play-by-plays of how the environmental apocalypse will go down or poetic laments for the ailing natural world, Gertner invests his writerly energies less in describing what is happening to Greenland’s ice than to how we know it ... By the end of the book, his approach appealed to me for several reasons, most notably because it impressed on me like nothing I’ve read before how hard-earned climate change facts are ... This is a book about...Gertner’s obsession. I mean that as a compliment, for despite the book’s composure, it is this wild and viral obsession that is the most compelling thing about it.
... [an] engrossing new book ... scientific mysteries and discoveries become, in Gertner’s hands, part of a geological detective story. Facts are hard-won prizes that fascinate and dismay, and often point to further intrigue. By writing this sort of adventure-history, Gertner sidesteps the political debates and polemics that have come to characterize current conversations about a changing climate. The Ice of the End of the World is still devastatingly clear in describing how Greenland’s ice sheet is melting, and the broader implications of that change.
... a fascinating account ... Gertner writes with verve and acuity, and his prose is at times lyrical ... But even though his narration of the expeditions is packed with absorbing detail, it’s hard to avoid an element of drudgery midway through the book’s first half, because by then, the dangers posed by the harsh environment start to seem less novel. There were times when I wished, for the book’s sake, that the English language had more words to describe ice. Fortunately, Gertner picks up the pace again in the second half, telling the scientific story without giving readers an excuse to stop reading—except perhaps to ponder the fate of the planet.
Jon Gertner makes a compelling case that it’s time to start thinking seriously about Greenland and its growing relevance to our lives, and those of our descendants ... Gertner...does not wax polemic. That would be overkill when the facts on the ground (or on the ice) largely speak for themselves. Most of his book consists of engaging accounts of the explorers and scientists who have been drawn to Greenland’s hinterlands, among them the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen and the American Robert Peary.
Gertner does not mince words ... By the time The Ice at the End of the World nears its conclusion, a bleak assessment of the future sprinkled with small bits of hope, the subjects of the book’s first half have completely disappeared. There’s not much mention of Peary, Nansen, or the other early explorers in the book’s second half, and not much of an attempt to bind the two unwieldy halves of the book together ... Another problem with Gertner’s book is his general lack of interest in the Inuit people whose relationship with Greenland long predates Europeans and Americans ... Gertner’s story writes off some 4,500 years of earlier history and human habitation ... the original inhabitants of Greenland are nothing more than foils to white men; they don’t seem to deserve their own role in this telling of Greenland’s history. But what the first half of the book does allow Gertner to do is to treat the scientists of the second half with...narrative gusto ... The evolution of the ice core hypothesis, the refinement of the techniques, and the gradual, stunning lessons learned by analyzing them, is a fascinating, compelling story that could have survived on its own without the earlier age of exploration. It is refreshing to read an actual history of climatology, and see how the succession of technological advances, accruing data, and new perspectives turned a hypothesis into solid data.
Gertner is deeply apprehensive about Greenland's future, which he convincingly demonstrates is tied to the future of our planet. What his scientific heroes discover is alarming: Greenland's ice sheet is rapidly melting. Gertner voices concern for the consequences this will have on rising sea levels, for example, but he also mourns the disappearance of the ice itself. Once thought of as a lifeless desert, Gertner's book memorializes the ice sheet's beauty and the astounding secrets it continues to hold.
Jon Gertner’s compelling book, The Ice at the End of the World, addresses this paucity [of information about the exploration of Greenland] with intelligence and insight ... With a respectful directness, Gertner outlines the diverse personal motivations that drove...adventurers ... Without judgment or comment, Gertner provides details worthy of philosophical reflection about the influence military pursuits have had on the ability to conduct research in remote settings and how we value science ... Gertner’s excellent book is a must read for those who are curious about the history of exploration and the pursuit of science there. The stories contained therein should inform future dialogues so that the implications of what we face can be fully appreciated and the magnitude of the losses truly understood.
... [a] vivid and dramatic chronicle ... beyond-belief tales of daring journeys across Greenland’s immense and treacherous frozen desert by men of courage and conviction, hubris and vision, each keenly portrayed ... Gertner entrances with tales of dogsleds, cold, hunger, isolation, disasters, death, and the against-all-odds collection of invaluable scientific data ... Gertner observes that it will take a 'moral awakening' to spur us to confront this looming threat. Hopefully, his deeply engrossing and enlightening ice epic will instigate action.
In this wide-ranging book, Gertner...demonstrates the same excitement for scientific exploration as for the adventures of early polar explorers ... A brief paragraph of climate change pseudoscience quick fixes somewhat diminishes the overall tenor ... There's something for everyone here: adventure, the Cold War, science, and analysis of how melting ice sheets will influence future climates.
In this remarkably thorough account, Gertner...builds a fascinating chronology of scientific endeavor and discovery ... This is vital reading for anyone interested in how climate change has already affected the Earth, and how it might do so in future.
... [a] penetrating and engrossing book ... The author...is especially strong in his descriptions of the brutal cold, winds, ice floes, crevices, frostbite, lost toes, starvation, and loneliness that explorers have experienced over the decades ... A captivating, essential book to add to the necessarily burgeoning literature on global warming.