Book Review: Greenland: The End Of The World

Greenland:  The End Of The World, by Damjan Koncnik with Kevin Kato

I have often wondered about how it would be to visit Greenland, and this book did not discourage me thinking of it as an interesting task that would be potentially very enjoyable, if a very odd sort of trip.  As someone who reads travel books fairly often [1], there are certain conventions one often finds in these sorts of books.  Mostly, one finds male protagonists who are both deeply curious, driven to do something that few people would likely do, and somewhat clueless about how they go about their amazing adventures.  Having read quite a few books of the genre, I realize that while it can be a bit tedious that so many of the protagonists portray themselves as bumbling, as is the case here even if the author is Slovenian and not English like most of the authors of this genre, this makes the author appear more likable by far than he does if he portrays himself in a way that makes him appear superior to his audience (see Pico Iyer and Bill Bryson in their more tiresome works).  Tone matters a lot, and when someone is having enviable adventures it is best if they are not condescending in their approach to their audience.

This particular book is made up of the author’s account of several trips to Greenland in which there were amazing adventures as well as a certain amount of danger and bumbling.  After a foreword, preface, and short discussion about the author’s dreams of Greenland and his vision of the place as the end of the world (a concept that is perhaps understandably repeated often in the book), the author discusses a series of trips he made to the country.  Most of the book is taken up with his first trip to Greenland in 2001, where he made a long overland trip that included finding some unknown ruins that didn’t appear to interest many people as well as struggling mightily against the elements.  After this the author moves on to discuss his second trip, a much briefer one, in 2002.  The author then discusses a third and much more luxuriant trip by sea (mostly) in 2006.  Throughout he comments on the Inuit as well as Europeans in Greenland and their ways, the tense relationship between Greenland and Denmark, and the history of the early and vanished Norse explorers.

As one might imagine from a travel book about a fairly obscure place, there are a lot of different feelings that a reader can gain about this book.  For one, the author gives some insights about the logistical difficulties of traveling in Greenland, offering some serious advice about the challenges of traveling overland, the limited hours of stores in the place, and the desire on the part of the Inuit for greater autonomy even if they have not been able to fully exploit the resources of their own area or show a great deal of business acumen that would aid their independence efforts.  In addition, the author also indicates that tourism in Greenland is something that is going on even if it is somewhat rare as of yet, and that the greater knowledge of and awareness of Greenland and its people and history will offer the island nation a chance to overcome its present isolation, even if it lacks the infrastructure at present to have a large degree of tourism, as conditions in many parts of the place remain more than a bit rough.  Even so, it certainly whetted my own appetite to give the place a visit.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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