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    Review of ONE DAY THE ICE WILL REVEAL ALL ITS DEAD by Clare Dudman

    Viking Books, February 2004

    Review by Jennifer Vilches

    ONE DAY THE ICE is a poetic, fictionalized biography of early 20th century German scientist Alfred Wegener. As scientists go, Wegener is pretty obscure - I hadn't heard of him before reading this book. Trained in meteorology, Wegener made several grueling trips to arctic Greenland to conduct experiments. However, he did not limit his scientific curiosity to weather. His most important theory was continental drift, which was highly controversial at the time. The compelling need to defend his theory to skeptical geologists led to him leaving his family at age 49 for a final trip to Greenland.

    Early on Dudman uses the analogy of beads on a string to describe memories and it's a very fitting analogy for the flow of the book. Written in first person, Wegener reminisces about his life - moving from one set of memories to another. Dudman captures everyday sweet and bittersweet moments of love, family and deep friendships; the driving force behind a scientific mind; the beautifully bleak and hostile landscape of Greenland; and the horrific chaos of war.

    This is not a standard biography with comprehensive coverage of dates and names, and is also not a scientific discourse on continental drift and other theories. ONE DAY is instead an emotional portrait of a man driven to understand the workings of the world through science. Dudman does an excellent job of setting up the times and Wegener's narrative never rings false. At times I forgot that I was reading fiction because the style was so convincing.

    Not a quick, easy read, but ultimately satisfying. This will mostly appeal to history/science buffs who want to peek into the mind of a early 1900s scientist.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 8/04/04

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