Price (as of writing): £8.99
For twenty years John Aitchison has been travelling the world to film wildlife for the BBC and other broadcasters, taking him to far-away places on every continent. The Shark and the Albatross is the story of these journeys of discovery, of his encounters with animals and occasional enterprising individuals in remote and sometimes dangerous places. His destinations include the far north and the far south, expeditions to film for Frozen Planet and other natural history series, in Svalbard, Alaska, the remote Atlantic island of South Georgia, and the Antarctic. They also encompass wild places in India, China and the United States. In all he finds and describes key moments in the lives of animals, among them polar bears and penguins, seals and whales, sharks and birds, and wolves and lynxes.
He reveals what happens behind the scenes and beyond the camera. He explains the practicalities and challenges of the filming process, and the problems of survival in perilous places. He records touching moments and dramatic incidents, some ending in success, others desperately sad. There are times when a hunted animal triumphs against the odds, and others when, in spite of preparation for every outcome, disaster strikes. And, as the author shows in several incidents that combine nail-biting tension with hair-raising hilarity, disaster can strike for film-makers too.
This is natural history writing at its absolute best, evocative, informative and gripping from first to last.
I read this book following on from reading the Great Soul of Siberia, and it is along a similar vein to it. Both books take you on journeys to places on the globe you may not normally be able to visit, and through extraordinary writing describe in extreme detail what is found there. The Shark and the Albatross is a lot more varied, in that it takes you further (through India, the Arctic, America and so many other places), but it covers these visits in less detail. You also don't get as deep of a story with each of them, but more a snapshot - which is surprisingly apt for a book about nature photography. I enjoyed the book, but I did find that by separating out the different locations into different chapters throughout the book it didn't follow on as easily - I found myself having to return back to a previous chapter to reread it. Regardless, it was a very beautiful book to read and I would recommend it greatly.