Joanna Kavenna

Author Jane Smiley Photo: Getty

A book about the ordinary nothings that, in the end, are everything

15 November 2014 9:00 am

We live in a world in which nuance is trampled on and cannot survive. Is that true? I don’t know.…

Shackleton’s ship the Nimrod in the ice at McMurdo Sound

Flawed, unproductive and heroic: the real Ernest Shackleton

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Polar explorers are often cast as mavericks, and this is hardly surprising. The profession requires a disdain for pseudo-orthodoxies and,…

Riding alone: 
Tim Cope at Khokh Nuur (Blue Lake) near the 3,000 metre-high pass between Kharkina and 
Turgen Uul, Mongolia

In the steppes of a warlord

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Joanna Kavenna is impressed by one man’s 6,000-mile ride through some of the loneliest regions on earth

A German soldier sits among the ruins of the Reichstag 
after the Russian entry into Berlin in 1945

After the war — apocalypse

19 October 2013 9:00 am

On 12 April 1945 the Berlin Philharmonic gave its last performance. The atmosphere in Germany was apocalyptic, the Allied invasion…


Niccolo Machiavelli, by Corrado Vivanti; The Garments of Court and Palace, by Philip Bobbitt

27 July 2013 9:00 am

One more anniversary, one more cache of commemorative books. This time we are celebrating the half-millennium since Niccolò Machiavelli produced…

The Long Shadow, by Mark Mills - a review

20 July 2013 9:00 am

Mark Mills is known for his historical and literary crime novels, including The Savage Garden, The Information Officer and House…

View of Salzburg, oil on canvas by Julius Schoppe, 1817

A Place in the Country, by W.G. Sebald - review

15 June 2013 9:00 am

Within a few years, and in four books — The Emigrants (1996), The Rings of Saturn (1998), Vertigo (1999) and…


Everest, by Harriet Tuckey

1 June 2013 9:00 am

This book, as the subtitle explains, makes a bold claim: Griffith Pugh was the ‘unsung hero’ of the 1953 ascent…


5 January 2013 9:00 am

I am re-reading D.H. Lawrence’s Sea and Sardinia. The opening line runs: ‘Comes over one an absolute necessity to move…’…

Homage to the Goddess Mother

3 November 2012 9:00 am

Cometh the hour, cometh the many men (and women). The 2012 centenary of Captain Scott’s death inspired a series of…


Inflated dreams

17 March 2012 10:00 am

When almost every tale about the Arctic has been told, when the major explorers have been assessed and re-assessed, when…

Heroes of the Ice Age

13 August 2011 12:00 am

Four new books on the great era of polar exploration


The trail goes cold

2 April 2011 12:00 am

For centuries, the history of the far North was a tapestry of controversies and mis- understandings, misspellings, dubious arrivals and equally dubious departures.


In deep trouble

6 November 2010 12:00 am

Atlantic by Simon Winchester and The Wave by Susan Casey are, at first glance, very different works.


To strive, to seek, to find . . .

21 April 2010 12:00 am

In 1931, a 23-year-old Englishman called Henry ‘Gino’ Watkins returned from an expedition to the white depths of the Greenlandic ice cap.


The frost giant awakes

3 March 2010 12:00 am

For thousands of years, no one knew what lay in the ice around the North Pole.

Origins of the human race

18 November 2009 12:00 am

At first glance, a history of running seems a pretty doomed exercise, like writing a history of breathing, or sneezing.

Top of the world

19 November 2008 12:00 am

Late Nights on Air, by Elizabeth Hay

Paddling through Canada

18 February 2006 12:00 am

There are a lot of travel writers these days setting off ‘in the footsteps of’ someone else, gathering clues and…

The frozen, unruly north

26 February 2005 12:00 am

John Gimlette is a writer of vivid comical prose, whose first travel book appeared under the title At the Tomb…