am 13. Juni 2000
This tale of a husband and wife who decide to sail far north and spend the winter in the Arctic is a better than average travelogue. From concept to completion, it's quite a page-turner at times as the duo take on all the hurdles in their way, some of which are mere annoyances, and some of which are life-threatening. The details of finding the right boat and provisioning are all quite interesting, as are many of the little tricks of the trade and jerry-rigging that are brought up throughout the course of the book. There's also quite a bit about Inuit (aka Eskimo) life, and the majesty of the Arctic, which at times gets a little much, but isn't as cheezy as some writers get. Things get really interesting when Simon's wife has to be airlifted out in an emergency, leaving him alone with a kitten for almost half a year. Simon's vivid and frank description of his mental state during this time is perhaps the best part of the book. Well worth reading.
am 12. Juli 2000
All too often people with no experience of the Arctic think it'd be a really nifty idea to have an Arctic adventure. If they're climbers or sailors down south, and equipped with enough high-tech gadgets, they can't foresee any problems. After all, or so the reasoning seems to be, the unsophisticated Inuit have been getting by for centuries, and they didn't even have Gore-Tex. The Arctic hates arrogance and if you insist on bringing arrogance with you, it will kill you. Many adventurers don't live to write about their adventures, although their oft-times lugubrious demise does provide a kind of morbid entertainment for the locals. When Northerners tell you you're a fool it's because you are a fool, and not because they're trying to keep all the fun for themselves.
Thus, I had to suspend my judgments of Mr. Simon as not only a fool, but a damned fool. Naiveté not being enough, he topped it off with an unhealthy taste for senseless risk-taking. But perhaps because at heart he wasn't an arrogant fool, the Arctic let him get away with it, so I decided that I could do no less and let his charm beguile me. His story-telling ability is entertaining and his sense of humor rises above the flaws in his common sense. If people did only sensible things then both books and the human spirit would be awfully dull and that has to be admitted when reading any true life adventure book. It's not the readers' job to psychoanalyze the writer, but simply to come along for the ride, and this is a fascinating ride. His spiritual insights develop naturally from his experiences and that makes them more meaningful to me than if he'd set out to look for them, and he succeeded well in making an ultimately uplifting story, despite the bleak situation.
Oh, by the way, if this is an appealing book, a lot of credit must go to Halifax the cat, for her part.
am 21. Oktober 1999
Sometimes the subtitles of books are important and sometimes they aren't. For this book, the subtitle, "A Spiritual Odyssey in the Arctic", is right on the money. About 20% of the text either describes or analyzes the spiritual side of Alvah Simon's year in the arctic.
Although this book is enjoyable to read and describes a great feat of survival adventure, the spiritual aspects can get dull and repetitive. The author mentions again and again that he is forced to believe that a "guiding hand" prevents careless or accidental mistakes from killing him, sinking his boat or otherwise doing damage to body, mind or spirit. However, one has to wonder about other less lucky individuals who had become convinced a guiding hand was protecting them when a final careless accident took them and their newfound belief system off the face of the planet.
Mr. Simon should be applauded for at least being honest. When he makes a mistake he lays it out there for you to read about it. Other writers avoid honesty, for fear they will look smaller in the reader's eye. Mr. Simon's honesty only makes him more appealing as a person and underlines the fact that someone used to adventures who is prepared in every way imaginable and is intelligent to boot can still goof up. In Mr. Simon's case he lives to tell the tale, whether this is a guiding hand or not is ultimately left up to the reader to decide, but the author does all he can to pound home the depth of his spiritual odyssey in the arctic.
am 24. Januar 2000
In 1994-95 the author, his wife Diana, and their cat named Halifax, sailed to the Arctic in their 36-foot cutter, the Roger Henry, for an arctic experience. They spent a year in Baffin Bay, off the coast of Greenland, completely frozen in during the winter. His excellent writing is full of facts, from the mechanical details of getting making their boat seaworthy, to the history, geography, wildlife and interactions with the Intuit people.
Beyond that, though, there was something more. The challenges he faces are stark and realistic and he makes mistakes along the way nearly costing him his life, grappling with internal challenges as well as external ones. Along the way he learns great lessons in life.
As I read this book, I was right there with him, feeling his awe at the natural beauty, his thrill of the adventure as well as his loneliness and his fear. I was also constantly impressed by his ingenuity in solving the many constant technical unforeseen problems.
I couldn't put the book down, staying up almost all night to just keep reading and reading. I know I'll never take a trip like this. But I thank him for writing the book and giving me the privilege of experiencing just a little bit of this wild and frozen landscape.
am 19. Mai 2000
Ordinarily when I see a book with tiny printing like this one, I usually back off or end up putting the book down forever halfway through. This book sat on my bedside table and every night, I relished my next installment of Alvah, Diane, and Halifax's arctic adventure. It's clear to me after reading this that they all were accompanied by their "spirit protector" and survived extraordinary challenges to the mind, body, and spirit. I congratulate, admire, and envy them and their magnificient adventure. I very much think, however, that my rapt attention to this book had alot to do with the fact that Halifax came along for the ride. Being a cat lover, I was once again astounded at the capabilities of these wonderful, personable creatures. I really identified with Alvah's relationship with Halifax. Cats are glorious little creatures and I now am in the Halifax fan club. I wonder if Alvah and Diane have Halifax posters for people like me? Ha Ha! For those who enjoyed Into Thin Air or who enjoy Redmond O'Hanlon adventures, you will enjoy this book as well.
am 24. März 1999
"North to the Night" would be a great true adventure story even if it were written only as a mere chronology of a fantastic trip to the high arctic. It is more than that. Fortunately, the author saw fit to weave the story of his own intra and interpersonal "voyages" into the narrative itself. For those, unfortunately, who are unable to indentify with his virtual despair on returning to "civiization" after thirteen years of sailing adventures or his obsession to spend a year virtually alone in the high artic, such intimate personal discussions might seem bizarre or self-serving. I found it all fascinating. So, too, with his discussions of the Inuit and the Arctic environment itself. Sensitive, insightful and, like the book as a whole, beautifully written. I have for years been a fan of sailing adventure stories and have read many. This is one of the best. I only hope his next book is not too far off.
am 7. Juni 2000
This book is very well written and, was actually very entertaining. He told the story so well at some points of the book i felt what he felt. I felt cold when he discribed the extreme cold of the arctic. The way the book was written made me want to journey to the arctic, (but i know that if i did i would probibly end up polar bear food). Norht to the night has some comedy, for example when he attempted to read one of his wifes books he end up throwing it across the boat in discust, and breaking his backup lantern. Then the next morning, as if to get even with the book he uses the paiges as toilet paper, (hey i thought it was halarious). The book has action, near the end of the book when he snuck up on the bear and screamed NANOOK! , The way im saying it may not sound interesting, but it's just something about the way he tells a story that just won't let you put this book down.
am 19. Januar 2000
As a sailor who reads a lot of sailing naratives, this one is great! Highly recommend it. Simon is insightful, and honest. There were several times in the book that Simon started to sound like a single-minded egotist, but in his story he keeps redeeming himself with renewed humility and insight. Through circumstance, he is forced to go into the shadow and face the great nemisis of humnankind, fear. We all deal with our fear through a combination of avoidance, denial, and confrontation. But in the extreme cold and dark of the north, Simon has no choice but to meet his fear, entertain it, live day-to-day with it, alone, until at last he recognizes that he can let go....and he does. Coming to trust in something larger than the extremes of the north, the brutality of the cold...he sees the freedom of simply recognizing the beauty of what is in this moment.
am 15. Januar 2000
What a read this book turned out to be. If you enjoyed "Into Thin Air", you'll like this one. Much like "Into Thin Air" it's the story of a man who's spirit of adventure almost gets the best of him, as he sets off to explore and experience a world once unknown to him on his own. As his journey progresses he begins to realize that as much as he'd like to think he's in control, there is a higher power that seems to be watching over him and keeping him safe. What I enjoyed most about the book were the pictures in my mind I was creating as Alvah was describing them in print: the giant ice-bergs, the polar bears, night that streched on for months and the reapperance of the sun. It was fun to read and really was an interesting way to learn about a part of the world (and the people that live there) that I really hadn't read much about.
am 10. Januar 2015
Ein wirklich hervorragendes Buch, für jemand, der sich für die Arktis interessiert unverzichtbar. Leider nur in English. Unerwartet sind da eine ganze Reihe technischer Tricks und Kniffe beschrieben, die sich vermutlich als sehr wertvoll zeigen werden, wenn man so eine Reise nachvollzieht. (Die Havarie, die die Protagonisten im Video"Per Anhalter durch die NWP" ereilt hat, wäre nicht passiert, wenn sie das beherzigt hätten). Nicht zu vernachlässigen sind die eher psychologischen Schwierigkeiten, die da aus erster Hand beschrieben sind. Und natürlich die bildhaften Beschreibungen von Natur, Landschaft, Wetter und einheimischer Bevölkerung. Ich habe das Buch auf die Empfehlung des Captains gekauft: [...]