Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Teacup in a Storm: An explorer's guide to life by Mick Conefrey.

A Teacup in a Storm: An explorer's guide to life by Mick Conefrey.  Hardcover book published by Collins 2005.

“A witty, entertaining and utterly unique look at the great explorers and the life-lessons we can draw from them.  Exploration and explorers hold a constant fascination, with tales of heroism and the overcoming of great odds in the most inhospitable environments. With inspirational stories we can apply to our everyday life, as well as more bizarre and quirky lessons, such as how to escape an anaconda or find water in a desert, this is a uniquely entertaining and inspirational book.”

I’ve always wanted to know how to escape an anaconda.  More importantly though, how do I escape a bear?  This information is not listed in the index of this book, but it is something that has concerned me at a few points in my life.  We don’t have bears in Australia (…tempted to write something like “other than Koala Bears” but I know this will only anger a certain young lady, as the Koala isn’t a bear… or so I’ve been told), so for most people here in Australia this isn’t of any concern.  We don’t have anacondas either, but still, this is a handy skill to have… as are a lot of the other skills listed in the book. 

What the book is actually about is the history of exploration, but written as a DIY manual with examples from history to illustrate various points.  The author has decided to write about it all in a “witty, entertaining and utterly unique” way.  And why not?  We’ve read about all those explorers before, at least some of us have, and this book by being witty and entertaining is aiming at a more general audience… or possibly a younger audience, who are less interested in 600 pages of Shackleton or Burton and more interested in a few paragraphs of juicy bits in a more general manner.  It’s set out in chapters relating to various parts of an expedition beginning with “Getting started” and finishing with “Getting back”… which is a good place to start and a good place to finish. 

For some reason as I’ve been writing all of this, I’m reminded of those “Horrible Histories” books written for kids.  If you don’t know “Horrible Histories” and you’re a book seller, you should.  In this instance these not so horrible histories with positive and horrible bits, are aimed at an adult audience and not just kids.  Maybe this is the point of the book.  Most kids grow up and any young adult who has experienced the “Horrible Histories” phenomena, could possibly be interested in continuing their interest in history via a book like this one.  Personally, I’m more interested in 600 pages of Burton, Hedin, Cherry-Garrard etc etc… and also in how to escape from bears.

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