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For 337 days, award-winning wildlife cameraman Lindsay McCrae intimately followed 11,000 emperor penguins amid the singular beauty of Antarctica. This is his masterful chronicle of one penguin colony’s astonishing journey of life, death, and rebirth—and of the extraordinary human experience of living amongst them in the planet’s harshest environment. My Penguin Year recount For 337 days, award-winning wildlife cameraman Lindsay McCrae intimately followed 11,000 emperor penguins amid the singular beauty of Antarctica. This is his masterful chronicle of one penguin colony’s astonishing journey of life, death, and rebirth—and of the extraordinary human experience of living amongst them in the planet’s harshest environment. My Penguin Year recounts McCrae's remarkable adventure to the end of the Earth. He observed every aspect of a breeding emperor's life, facing the inevitable sacrifices that came with living his childhood dream, and grappling with the personal obstacles that, being over 15,000km away from the comforts of home, almost proved too much. Out of that experience, he has written an unprecedented portrait of Antarctica’s most extraordinary residents.  


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For 337 days, award-winning wildlife cameraman Lindsay McCrae intimately followed 11,000 emperor penguins amid the singular beauty of Antarctica. This is his masterful chronicle of one penguin colony’s astonishing journey of life, death, and rebirth—and of the extraordinary human experience of living amongst them in the planet’s harshest environment. My Penguin Year recount For 337 days, award-winning wildlife cameraman Lindsay McCrae intimately followed 11,000 emperor penguins amid the singular beauty of Antarctica. This is his masterful chronicle of one penguin colony’s astonishing journey of life, death, and rebirth—and of the extraordinary human experience of living amongst them in the planet’s harshest environment. My Penguin Year recounts McCrae's remarkable adventure to the end of the Earth. He observed every aspect of a breeding emperor's life, facing the inevitable sacrifices that came with living his childhood dream, and grappling with the personal obstacles that, being over 15,000km away from the comforts of home, almost proved too much. Out of that experience, he has written an unprecedented portrait of Antarctica’s most extraordinary residents.  

30 review for My Penguin Year: Life Among the Emperors

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X is down to 75 books awaiting reviews

    Right to almost at the end I was thinking if I hadn't read such books on Antarctica like the not stellar but distinctly wacky Antarctica on a Plate and (equally wacky) Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine or Shadows on the Wasteland so I knew nothing about the emptiest, coldest and driest (1"-2" rainfall a year) continent on earth, and seen every penguin documentary every made, I would have rated this book higher than 3.5 stars. But then, almost at the end, th Right to almost at the end I was thinking if I hadn't read such books on Antarctica like the not stellar but distinctly wacky Antarctica on a Plate and (equally wacky) Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine or Shadows on the Wasteland so I knew nothing about the emptiest, coldest and driest (1"-2" rainfall a year) continent on earth, and seen every penguin documentary every made, I would have rated this book higher than 3.5 stars. But then, almost at the end, the absolute humanity of the author rather than the film-maker intent on capturing penguin-life-as-it-is-lived (or not) came out, and I cheered and cheered. (view spoiler)[Penguins and their babies were trapped about 20' down at the bottom of a gully, with only one penguin and her baby managing to climb out - she using her beak as an ice axe. So he and his co-workers, after a week or so of filming them and bad weather, dug a ramp for them to return to the main colony on. I wish he'd done it sooner, but... I'm glad he did it at all. (hide spoiler)] . So after that I loved the author and the book enough to give it 4 stars. What wasn't stellar about it? The writing was good but apart from a very descriptive passage about the aurora Australis that brought the phenomenon to life, it wasn't special. If he could write that well about the aurora he could have written more pictures in words, rather than just with his camera. This might sound a bit churlish but I was thoroughly bored with his non-stop talk about his girlfriend, then wife, then mother of his child. Other than supporting him, looking after his home, bearing his child and looking after it alone, I don't know anything about her. What did she do? What did she look like? What did she find funny that she related to him in their daily communications? We never learned anything about her and her life at all, only her in relation to him. What's interesting about that? The title should have been My Penguin Year - all the technical details of the difficulties of filming Emperors in Antarctica. I enjoyed the technicalities but I can't say I learned anything new about penguins. 4 star. Just. _________ Notes on reading(view spoiler)[ Isn't this brilliant? - The author is on an old specially-designed Russian plane going from South Africa to the Antarctic and the on-board entertainment on the screens is a view from the cockpit. I would love to see that. The plane flies 20 times a year to the Antarctic. The author is going to film Emperors for 11 months out of which 8 months will be in total isolation as the weather does not allow for any kind of physical communication. So that means the plane flies 20 times in 4 months, that's more than once a week. Since the Antarctic is only occupied by research stations, that's quite a lot. What are they all doing coming and going so often? And that doesn't include any other flights from any other country. (hide spoiler)]

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fiction Addition Angela

    I loved this book so much - I am a penguin fan so when I heard about this book I knew it was for me. What a fantastic read. Lindsay McCrae's passion for wildlife began when he was fourteen when he filmed badgers and wrote to Spring watch and asked them to come and take a look. They did just that and so his love of filming animals continued and grew. He asked for a loan from his Mum to buy his first professional camera and his first job was an internship involved in the filming of animals. His qu I loved this book so much - I am a penguin fan so when I heard about this book I knew it was for me. What a fantastic read. Lindsay McCrae's passion for wildlife began when he was fourteen when he filmed badgers and wrote to Spring watch and asked them to come and take a look. They did just that and so his love of filming animals continued and grew. He asked for a loan from his Mum to buy his first professional camera and his first job was an internship involved in the filming of animals. His quest to film one of the most extraordinary animals on the planet saw him getting his dream job to film the Emperor penguins in the Antartica but that meant that he would have to travel 15,000km from home leaving his wife alone who would give birth to their first child whilst he was away from home for eleven months. Lindsay McCrae spent this extraordinary year living with the Emperor penguins, filming these amazing birds through torturous conditions - male penguins brood their large single egg for sixty four days in winds in excess of 100kmph battling to keep themselves warm to ensure their egg remains in position on top of their feet, no sun temperatures around -50 degrees celsius BBbrrruuu. Extremely moving in parts and a little cheer from me when Lindsay encouraged an intervention to save the penguin chicks from death following a storm. If you love Animals and learning about their life cycles this is a fascinating, deeply moving, sad, uplifting book. Thank you for the ARC Edelweiss.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kevin. McKernan

    I did not know what to expect when I received this book. Even after a bit into it I wasnt sure, but it turned into a very good read. It was interesting and kept my attention. If you begin it stick with it You will enjoy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    I was so ridiculously charmed by this book, which details cinematographer Lindsay McCrae’s year in Antarctica filming emperor penguins for the BBC’s DYNASTIES. McCrae is not a brilliant writer, and there are plenty of eyebrow-raising sections of his experience (particularly around his relationship with his long-suffering wife) that made me unsure if I liked him very much, but his passion for wildlife and the sheer uniqueness of his experience kept me eagerly turning the pages. There’s plenty her I was so ridiculously charmed by this book, which details cinematographer Lindsay McCrae’s year in Antarctica filming emperor penguins for the BBC’s DYNASTIES. McCrae is not a brilliant writer, and there are plenty of eyebrow-raising sections of his experience (particularly around his relationship with his long-suffering wife) that made me unsure if I liked him very much, but his passion for wildlife and the sheer uniqueness of his experience kept me eagerly turning the pages. There’s plenty here about the incredible struggle of emperors, and McCrae doesn’t shy away from some of the horrific things he saw. There’s a brilliant section about saving some dying penguins that had been blown by incredible winds into a deep gully that beautifully describes the conflict between being a documentary filmmaker and also a compassionate human being in nature. There’s also lots here about the unique lives of Antarctic researchers and the lifestyle of doing research in such an inhospitable place that I found endlessly fascinating. One of the more delightful, surprising books I’ve read all year.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natalie (CuriousReader)

    A memoir of a documentary film-maker getting the amazing opportunity to film emperor penguins in Antarctica for 11 months; this should sparkle and be charged but instead it falls short of any deeper revelations, it's ineffectually written and most of all the negative perspective of the author himself infects everything he writes about what he sees at this southern-most point of the earth. My Review: https://curiousreaderr.wordpress.com/... A memoir of a documentary film-maker getting the amazing opportunity to film emperor penguins in Antarctica for 11 months; this should sparkle and be charged but instead it falls short of any deeper revelations, it's ineffectually written and most of all the negative perspective of the author himself infects everything he writes about what he sees at this southern-most point of the earth. My Review: https://curiousreaderr.wordpress.com/...

  6. 4 out of 5

    CindySlowReader#Vaccinated!

    Those poor penguins. Not a good book for those who can't stomach animal suffering but an excellent book for those who dream of living and working in the Antarctic. Those poor penguins. Not a good book for those who can't stomach animal suffering but an excellent book for those who dream of living and working in the Antarctic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    The subject matter is intriguing: Antarctica is somewhere I would love to go, and how amazing to be able to spend a whole year with the Emperor penguins who live there. Sadly this book is let down by a lack of finesse in the writing style. It appears to have not been edited much or at all and the writing is clunky and repetitive.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Koen

    Lovely write up of the 11 months McCrae spent in Antarctica to film a colony of Emperor Penguins throughout the arctic winter. Emperors, arctic what's not to like. McCrae does an excellent job of conveying the hardships of an arctic winter, what goes in to making a natural history production like BBC's Dynasties and the toll and anxieties of an 11 month stay in one of the most hostile environments on earth. Especially when one's spending those months away with a firstborn on the way. Mind you, McC Lovely write up of the 11 months McCrae spent in Antarctica to film a colony of Emperor Penguins throughout the arctic winter. Emperors, arctic what's not to like. McCrae does an excellent job of conveying the hardships of an arctic winter, what goes in to making a natural history production like BBC's Dynasties and the toll and anxieties of an 11 month stay in one of the most hostile environments on earth. Especially when one's spending those months away with a firstborn on the way. Mind you, McCrae spent his year in the arctic in a modern German research facility in 2016 so his story is nothing like the classic arctic exploration stories but i found it gripping nevertheless. The main characters were the penguins though. There's plenty of behavior described in the book and you can't help be in awe of those funny looking birds. Can't wait to watch the film now.

  9. 4 out of 5

    MichaelR

    An interesting read, about the authors year in Antarctica filming a penguin colony. Lots of details about living so remotely and the ups and downs of weather.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Nawrot

    It's probably because of my son that I grabbed this book on Audible when I saw it. Penguins are most definitely his spirit animal (he even has a penguin tattoo on his bicep) and I've learned to adore these waddly, humorous, fiercely loyal little animals. I'm sure if my kid were offered a trip to Antartica, he would take it, no questions asked. I thought it would be fascinating to learn more about what would be required to endure such a harsh climate where temperatures average -30F, as well as pe It's probably because of my son that I grabbed this book on Audible when I saw it. Penguins are most definitely his spirit animal (he even has a penguin tattoo on his bicep) and I've learned to adore these waddly, humorous, fiercely loyal little animals. I'm sure if my kid were offered a trip to Antartica, he would take it, no questions asked. I thought it would be fascinating to learn more about what would be required to endure such a harsh climate where temperatures average -30F, as well as penguin behaviors beyond what I learned in the "March of the Penguins" movie. Lindsay McCrae is a young filmmaker of wildlife who began obsessing over the observation of nature from an early age. He skipped college and started his career, traveling around the world filming creatures in their natural habitats. After gaining a reputation, after 10 years he was offered the opportunity to live in Antarctica for a year to film Emperor penguins, which was a dream come true. Trouble was that he was newly married with a baby on the way. His long-suffering wife gave him permission to go, however, and he began the preparation...physical conditioning, rescue training, and basically fixing anything that could medically go wrong (in his case shoring up some dental work). And off he went, enduring isolation, subzero temperatures, frightening storms, and above all, witnessing the miraculous mating, egg-laying, parenting and untimely death in some cases. I found the story of McCrae's entire journey to be absolutely fascinating. The fact that some people have their appendix removed (or other problematic organs) before such an assignment kinda blew my mind! The behaviors of the penguins, as told by McCrae who has a real talent for observing the smallest detail, were remarkable. There was a kidnapping! The males fierce protection of their eggs while the females hunt. A female that clawed her way out of a deep ravine with a baby on her feet! Fascinating stuff. Now with regards to McCrae, he is not a writer. He can be repetitive. But his passion shines through and that is what made an impact on me. I did have moments when I felt he sounded self-absorbed. He did miss the birth of his first child after all, he "forgot" his wife's birthday, and got irritated when his wife wanted to talk about permanently moving closer to her family (would you blame her?). I suppose this is the downside to a spouse who is so totally driven by his or her profession. The author himself narrates the audiobook, and he really did a wonderful job despite the fact it isn't his day job. He has a pleasant British accent and again his passion shines through.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    3.5 stars. This book chronicles the author's journey to Antarctica, where he lived for eleven months filming emperor penguins for a documentary. Spending both summer and winter in the world's most remote place, he dealt with harsh storms, equipment that didn't always work as expected in the Antarctica temperatures, and the loneliness from being away from family, even missing the birth of his first son. This was an interesting look at what it's like to be in Antarctica, not just for a brief look 3.5 stars. This book chronicles the author's journey to Antarctica, where he lived for eleven months filming emperor penguins for a documentary. Spending both summer and winter in the world's most remote place, he dealt with harsh storms, equipment that didn't always work as expected in the Antarctica temperatures, and the loneliness from being away from family, even missing the birth of his first son. This was an interesting look at what it's like to be in Antarctica, not just for a brief look at wildlife and scenery but to actually live there for almost a year, completely cut off physically from the rest of the world for months at a time. I'd never given much thought to how photos and videos of penguins in Antarctica were captured, but this really gave me an appreciation for the harsh conditions videographers weather in order to capture such incredible moments. The book mostly focused on what it was like to film the birds and get to see them year-round, but there was also much discussion about frustrations due to the remoteness of the area and, mostly, the weather that impacted the author's ability to film the penguins and kept him completely frozen, more so than even anticipated. The writing in here was decent and clearly the author had an interesting story to share, but it felt somewhat basic. This is one of those books that you read to learn about the behind-the-scenes work to get videos in Antarctica, not something you read for the writing itself. I found much of the content interesting, although a bit repetitive at times, but this wasn't as gripping as I'd hoped it'd be because of its simple nature. Still, this was enjoyable overall and I'd recommend this to anyone interested in finding out more about the mating habits of penguins, living in Antarctica, or how nature documentaries get made.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brandon McGuire

    I absolutely loved this book. When I was a senior in college, I had to write a paper and give a presentation for Biogeography based on our favorite animals. My top 2 were Siberian Tigers and Emperor Penguins, and although I eventually went with the tigers I’ve always been fascinated with Emperor Penguins and penguins in general. Therefore, when I wandering the library and found this book with the new ones they had received I had to get it. It definitely didn’t disappoint. Following the journey o I absolutely loved this book. When I was a senior in college, I had to write a paper and give a presentation for Biogeography based on our favorite animals. My top 2 were Siberian Tigers and Emperor Penguins, and although I eventually went with the tigers I’ve always been fascinated with Emperor Penguins and penguins in general. Therefore, when I wandering the library and found this book with the new ones they had received I had to get it. It definitely didn’t disappoint. Following the journey of McCrae uprooting his life with a baby on the way to spending a year in Antarctica was a wild one to read. There were moments of joy, humor, and sadness that helped propel the story along. It was absolutely heartbreaking to read about the mass death of the chicks after terrible storms and the carnage that was left behind. It was interesting to read about the struggles that the penguins go through on a yearly basis and how they’ve evolved to battle the elements. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest of penguins, or even just for a tale about living for a year in one of the most isolated and dangerous places on earth. I read it on breaks and during downtime while at work and it never failed to keep me hooked the whole time.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Lindsay McCrae spent a year (I think 2017-ish?) living at the German base in Antarctica, filming the Emperor penguins for a BBC documentary. My Penguin Year focuses very closely on the year without a ton of background, historical or personal. He shares both the experience of documenting the Emperors and the experience of wintering in Antarctica with a small group of people, away from his wife and the birth of their first child. It reminded me of reading Jane Goodall; McCrae is observing and docu Lindsay McCrae spent a year (I think 2017-ish?) living at the German base in Antarctica, filming the Emperor penguins for a BBC documentary. My Penguin Year focuses very closely on the year without a ton of background, historical or personal. He shares both the experience of documenting the Emperors and the experience of wintering in Antarctica with a small group of people, away from his wife and the birth of their first child. It reminded me of reading Jane Goodall; McCrae is observing and documenting the penguins, and also feeling very attached and emotionally involved with them. It also reminded me of Jane Goodall in that everything is going along wonderfully with the animals until it isn't. There was one moment where McCrae and his team did intervene to save the life of some penguins and I'm so glad they did. It's maddening for humans to interfere all day long with their skidoos and giant buildings, walking around the pristine landscape in their giant red polar suits, then as soon as an animal could be saved from certain death by the simplest, smallest gesture, suddenly getting very strict about not interfering. The way McCrae and his colleagues reacted was, in my opinion, perfect. I need an Antarctic book club so I can obsessively compare and contrast My Penguin Year with Apsley Cherry-Garrad's Worst Journey in the World.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The book was not quite what I expected based on advance publicity which was heavy on the 'wife had a baby whilst he was away' angle. I haven't even seen the Dynasties footage that his 11 month trip was all about capturing. But I've felt myself a fan for a long time (I always look to see if his name comes up in the Watches credits) - McCrae seems to me in the mould of Jon Aitchison rather than the perhaps 'louder' more macho wildlife cameramen (so many wielding the cameras do seem to be men) So.. The book was not quite what I expected based on advance publicity which was heavy on the 'wife had a baby whilst he was away' angle. I haven't even seen the Dynasties footage that his 11 month trip was all about capturing. But I've felt myself a fan for a long time (I always look to see if his name comes up in the Watches credits) - McCrae seems to me in the mould of Jon Aitchison rather than the perhaps 'louder' more macho wildlife cameramen (so many wielding the cameras do seem to be men) So... off goes man to Antarctica for 11 months to film penguins. One aspect of the book I found very interesting was the long lead up to these expeditions - one in which the couple were able to plan and have a wedding (not a scrambled one) as well as him doing a lot of training and testing of equipment. It was mostly a very straightforward account of the experience of an Antarctic winter (when you can't get out again) and filming Emperor penguins. He wanted this job and he got on and did it and doesn't spend too long on faux handwringing. I did at times want more detail but perhaps that was not his story to tell (and I did snort at his occasional assertions that he knew his son as well his his son's mother because of all the photos, when he didn't even know what it felt like to hold *any* human baby) And I definitely felt a tad cheated of any photos of Walter, or his wife Becky... or even his fellow overwinterers other than penguins. So for a while it was perhaps a bit yada, yada, yada... I've read enough books on the process of film making, although the photos of the Neumayer station were the stuff of sci-fi. But the descriptions of capturing the aurora australis and even more so, the aftermath of the storm that came when they all thought the worst was over for the colony, that really did grab me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paul Naoum

    *I received an advance review copy through Goodreads Giveaways. For anyone who's a fan of BBC nature shows like Planet Earth and Blue Planet, this is a highly entertaining read that pulls back the curtains on what it's like for the folks who venture into the wild to capture the footage. The author spent an entire year in an Antarctic research station, braving the worst storms on Earth and months of total darkness to film emperor penguins for the new show Dynasties. I learned how isolated people i *I received an advance review copy through Goodreads Giveaways. For anyone who's a fan of BBC nature shows like Planet Earth and Blue Planet, this is a highly entertaining read that pulls back the curtains on what it's like for the folks who venture into the wild to capture the footage. The author spent an entire year in an Antarctic research station, braving the worst storms on Earth and months of total darkness to film emperor penguins for the new show Dynasties. I learned how isolated people in the research stations are. For 8 entire months, no planes or boats can get to them. Apparently it's actually easier to evacuate someone from the ISS than from an Antarctic station in the middle of Winter. I learned a lot about the behavior of emperor penguins. Lindsay captured behaviors on camera that have never or rarely been seen before, like a penguin kidnapping and the methods they use to survive a terrible winter storm. Or not survive - not all penguins make it, and the book definitely gets emotional at times, but that's the reality of the life that Lindsay is filming. I also learned how much heart and backbreaking work goes into the production of shows like this, that I usually take for granted while I'm watching it on my warm couch at home. Also I'm not going to spoil anything but there's a moment involving a stuffed toy penguin where I definitely wasn't crying. There was just something in my eye, that's all. My advance copy didn't include the pictures, which if the author's Instagram is any indication, are spectacular. All in all, a fun read, and definitely check out the penguin episode of Dynasties after you're done reading, you'll know a lot of cool details about the scenes that are talked about in the book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeimy

    This book was cool (pun intended), but, although enjoyable, I did not think it was outstanding.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Shackelford

    My Penguin Year: Life Among the Emperors by Lindsay McCrae is a true account about the author's adventure in the coldest place on earth, Antarctica, among the cutest creatures ever, emperor penguins. With exciting twists and turns this story has you engaged from the moment he steps on the ice to the moment he leaves. He tells the story of the penguins from egg to adult to see what life really is like with the penguins. McCrae also accounts the challenging mental toll that living in Antarctica fo My Penguin Year: Life Among the Emperors by Lindsay McCrae is a true account about the author's adventure in the coldest place on earth, Antarctica, among the cutest creatures ever, emperor penguins. With exciting twists and turns this story has you engaged from the moment he steps on the ice to the moment he leaves. He tells the story of the penguins from egg to adult to see what life really is like with the penguins. McCrae also accounts the challenging mental toll that living in Antarctica for a year has on a person. Being a bird, and especially penguin, fanboy I thoroughly enjoyed the journey I had with reading this book. Similar to the author, I have always been interested in penguins and have wondered what life would be like if I could live in Antarctica. Luckily, McCrae delivers not only a detailed documentation of the penguins’ life but also describes his own life at the research station. The meat of this book is about the life of the penguins and the many extreme hardships that happen along the way. From kidnappings to a rescue mission, this book has it all. The other bit of the book is about the author's personal struggle and life that he experiences along the way. It was very fascinating to learn what it would be like to live a year in Antarctica and what that would entail. However it is when the author gets into his real personal life that there becomes a few issues. I don't mean to sound rude but I don't care about your girlfriend and dogs and family back in England, and I don't think other readers do either. Furthermore, I don't really appreciate the overall writing style of this book. Maybe it's because I have been reading a bunch of older classics lately but it all feels rather basic. His word choice is average at best and it does get the job done but would hurt to use a different word besides 'keen' all the time? In the end I really did learn a lot from this book about life in Antarctica, and to my surprise this book did indeed have a nice climax. Long story short, he saves a bunch of penguins from a gully. I really enjoyed reading all about the cute penguins and what an average lifetime is like for them, even if it did include a lot of really sad deaths. This book just makes me want to visit Antarctica even more. Overall, I give this book a three out of five. It does an excellent job accurately accounting what life is like in Antarctica however this book has few minor flaws keeping it down a star. This book is for two types of people, those who want to learn more about Antarctica and penguins and those who just really love penguins. Outside of those two demographics however, I can't really recommend this book. I do bet however that there are probably better books out there even for those two demographics.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Fabulously written and very interesting! At times I felt as though I were in Antarctica filming the Emperor Penguins right alongside the author because the descriptions are so vivid. It’s informative as well. I believe I may have seen some of McCrae’s footage on BBC America, because his descriptions of the male penguins watching over their eggs and young chicks for two months while the females leave to hunt marine life sounded familiar. Those penguins are definitely made of sturdy stuff to withs Fabulously written and very interesting! At times I felt as though I were in Antarctica filming the Emperor Penguins right alongside the author because the descriptions are so vivid. It’s informative as well. I believe I may have seen some of McCrae’s footage on BBC America, because his descriptions of the male penguins watching over their eggs and young chicks for two months while the females leave to hunt marine life sounded familiar. Those penguins are definitely made of sturdy stuff to withstand the merciless Antarctic winter, including full darkness for months and howling wind and snow — conditions that often kept the human filmmakers inside for days on end. Of course there was some loss of life, but to my immense relief, McCrae and his team couldn’t just stand by and watch hundreds of adults and chicks perish in a deep ravine after a particularly brutal storm. They decided to make a snow ramp down into the ice ravine. Thank mercy! This simple act probably saved an entire generation that wouldn’t have made it without that small act of intervention. What’s even braver about the entire trip? The fact that McCrae (and his ever-patient wife) was willing to embark on this journey knowing he would not only miss the birth of his first son but the first seven months of the boy’s life. Wow! It’s touching, though, that when he was not filming or he was forced to stay inside Neumayer Station in bad weather, he always returned to thinking about his family back in England. His wife even sent him a plush baby penguin that he took with him inside his jacket whenever he was out filming. He would take posed pictures of the plushie to share with his son when he was older, and he recorded himself reading the Peter Rabbit series as bedtime stories for his wife and son, too. Great stuff! Oh, and I will try to refrain from complaining about bad weather here in NY after reading about Antarctica— days when the windchill was -58 Fahrenheit! Yikes.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    My Penguin Year, with this book in hand, I sat down to what I expected to be a twofer, true adventure and birds. I was disappointed. The first page told about seeing penguins; but then it was page 77 before he saw the return of the penguins and page 99 before he started filming. There were interesting scenes of the female penguin passing the egg to the male penguin who would protect it in his brood pouch. Lindsay also told of the two weeks they were stuck indoors because the weather was too viole My Penguin Year, with this book in hand, I sat down to what I expected to be a twofer, true adventure and birds. I was disappointed. The first page told about seeing penguins; but then it was page 77 before he saw the return of the penguins and page 99 before he started filming. There were interesting scenes of the female penguin passing the egg to the male penguin who would protect it in his brood pouch. Lindsay also told of the two weeks they were stuck indoors because the weather was too violent, with winds at 80 miles an hour and temperatures of -50 F. He found a rare all black emperor penguin! Jet-black from head to toe, the only bit of normality being a hint of yellow on its neck. Lindsay worked closely with two other men; he named them and told about them being on the ice shelf with him but he never fleshed them out. At one point I planned to quit reading but I wanted to see how his return home would be. His wife had given birth to their son while he was in Antarctica for 337 days. The return to wife and son didn’t even use one page. Maybe Lindsay would have benefited from having another author along side to help him move the story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    JJE

    An interesting book which shows how incredibly hard the job of wildlife cameraman can be and that it is not all like filming Springwatch! Not only the extreme weather of Antarctica but also the effects of being away from home for such long periods. Having watched the ‘BBC Dynasties’ series which the footage from this book was used for, I was keen to find out how hard is was to film such epic scenes. Little did I know it was only filmed by one person incredible! The story flows well and details th An interesting book which shows how incredibly hard the job of wildlife cameraman can be and that it is not all like filming Springwatch! Not only the extreme weather of Antarctica but also the effects of being away from home for such long periods. Having watched the ‘BBC Dynasties’ series which the footage from this book was used for, I was keen to find out how hard is was to film such epic scenes. Little did I know it was only filmed by one person incredible! The story flows well and details the hardship of the life of the Emperor Penguin. What a bird! I won’t spoil the story but the twists are well portrayed and brutally honest. This book won’t be for everyone and I don’t think it is a classic by any means but if you are interested in finding out more about Emperors or how hard it is to survive in Antarctica then this is worth a read. I did feel it lacked a sense of what the other members of the team (scientists, meteorologists etc) were doing which would have added a nice insight.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hatice Kose

    I picked up this book not knowing much about penguins or about the book itself. Once I started reading I was captivated beyond words. McCrae's journey into wildlife photography/videography is so moving. When reading this book I laughed, smiled and cried (especially when the baby penguin was kidnapped and when the penguins were trapped). Penguins are breathtaking creatures. They are intelligent, loving, caring, humorous. I felt so lucky to be able to experience the journey of living with penguins I picked up this book not knowing much about penguins or about the book itself. Once I started reading I was captivated beyond words. McCrae's journey into wildlife photography/videography is so moving. When reading this book I laughed, smiled and cried (especially when the baby penguin was kidnapped and when the penguins were trapped). Penguins are breathtaking creatures. They are intelligent, loving, caring, humorous. I felt so lucky to be able to experience the journey of living with penguins. I've always appreciated wildlife photography and videography but this book really multiplied my appreciation. I've not looked at a documentary or photograph in the same way since. I spend much more time appreciating what's been captured, but also take time to appreciate what's going on behind the camera that's captured that moment. I watched Dynasty after reading this and I laughed and cried even more but loved every moment. If you love nature and wildlife I highly recommend this book. I loved every moment of it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I actually have a paperback uncorrected proof of this book. I received a copy of "My Penguin Year: Life among the Emperors. Lindsay McCrae is a professional photographer. He was hired to take pictures of the Emperor penguins in Antarctica. He spent almost one year living in Antarctica photographing the penguins. He writes of the constantly freezing cold weather. The months just waiting for the penguins to appear and taking pictures of them through out the year. He managed to witness the males st I actually have a paperback uncorrected proof of this book. I received a copy of "My Penguin Year: Life among the Emperors. Lindsay McCrae is a professional photographer. He was hired to take pictures of the Emperor penguins in Antarctica. He spent almost one year living in Antarctica photographing the penguins. He writes of the constantly freezing cold weather. The months just waiting for the penguins to appear and taking pictures of them through out the year. He managed to witness the males standing over the egg for months while the females left to forage food. He writes of the hardships of these penguins the good and the bad, the tragic endings for some. He writes a lot of how cold it was and the sometimes frustration with the weather, and trying to get the pictures etc. Since I have an uncorrected proof of this book, there are no pictures of the penguins. I am assuming the finished book will have the pictures.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Picked this up on a whim because I like penguins (who doesn't) & had a cousin who spent time in Antarctica years ago as a geologist. McCrae's photos are wonderful (especially the station with the Milky Way above it) but his writing is less so, maybe because so much of it is about him & his complaining rather than about fulfilling his lifelong dream of being in Antarctica filming penguins. It started to feel like he couldn't go out to film without complaining about the cold, the lack of penguins, Picked this up on a whim because I like penguins (who doesn't) & had a cousin who spent time in Antarctica years ago as a geologist. McCrae's photos are wonderful (especially the station with the Milky Way above it) but his writing is less so, maybe because so much of it is about him & his complaining rather than about fulfilling his lifelong dream of being in Antarctica filming penguins. It started to feel like he couldn't go out to film without complaining about the cold, the lack of penguins, the weather, how he kept messing up the sledges, etc. And when he stays in the station due to weather he complained about being apart from his family, not getting the material the producers want for the movie, etc. But, when he is not complaining the story of his time down there is fascinating & as I said before, the pictures are lovely

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    PII have always had a soft spot for penguins and I have also always loved being outdoors in nature, so this book was right up my alley. I had read reviews that talked about how Lindsay's writing left something to be desired and how he wasn't a great storyteller, but I found his writing fine and his story engaging and a great read. He found a way to bring the penguins to life and I enjoyed every moment of his tale. I picked this book up in a used bookstore just based on the picture on the cover a PII have always had a soft spot for penguins and I have also always loved being outdoors in nature, so this book was right up my alley. I had read reviews that talked about how Lindsay's writing left something to be desired and how he wasn't a great storyteller, but I found his writing fine and his story engaging and a great read. He found a way to bring the penguins to life and I enjoyed every moment of his tale. I picked this book up in a used bookstore just based on the picture on the cover and the title, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of my year so far and I am 12 books in already. If you are intrigued by penguins and like a good naturalist story, give this one a read. I guarantee you'll enjoy it!! I can also recommend the resulting BBC documentary outlined in the book the film is as exciting as the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is a must read for anyone that likes Emperor Penguins, but also of interest to anyone that is interested in Antarctica. While he is in Antarctica to film the Emperor Penguins and struggling through the weather, you get to sit at home and read of the struggles of filming the penguins near Neumayer station. I was amazed at the difficulties he went through to get the complete life cycle of the penguins while they are breeding. As for his decision after the big storm, I was relieved at his deci This is a must read for anyone that likes Emperor Penguins, but also of interest to anyone that is interested in Antarctica. While he is in Antarctica to film the Emperor Penguins and struggling through the weather, you get to sit at home and read of the struggles of filming the penguins near Neumayer station. I was amazed at the difficulties he went through to get the complete life cycle of the penguins while they are breeding. As for his decision after the big storm, I was relieved at his decision. The surprising part to read was the difficulties he had once he got back home and his body had to adjust to being back among people and the germs they carry. I will definitely be looking for the film he helped make. It is on my must see list.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Britten Thompson

    I had really high hopes for this book, but it just felt like the author complained through the entire book and then wanted to go back to Antarctica at some point in his life even though it sounded like he hated it there. I didn’t learn anything about penguins, their journey or really filmmaking even. The only other thing talked about in the book at length, aside from complaints, was “kit” and “kitting up” which referenced winter gear, cameras, etc. and was mentioned with the fervour if someone wh I had really high hopes for this book, but it just felt like the author complained through the entire book and then wanted to go back to Antarctica at some point in his life even though it sounded like he hated it there. I didn’t learn anything about penguins, their journey or really filmmaking even. The only other thing talked about in the book at length, aside from complaints, was “kit” and “kitting up” which referenced winter gear, cameras, etc. and was mentioned with the fervour if someone who thought this turn of phrase would help him fit in with the cool kids. This book didn’t seem like a journey so much as an excuse to complain for nearly 300 pages. I found it very disappointing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carley

    Easy to read, 3 stars based on the writing style and layout of the book, but an extra star to commend the author on an incredible journey to the coldest place on earth. I was fascinated to hear of the danger and brutal environmental conditions the BBC camera men and women put themselves in, realising that I had barely thought of who was behind the cameras through all of those documentaries watched over the years. Glad that McCrae braved the daily colder than -40°C weather conditions to film the Easy to read, 3 stars based on the writing style and layout of the book, but an extra star to commend the author on an incredible journey to the coldest place on earth. I was fascinated to hear of the danger and brutal environmental conditions the BBC camera men and women put themselves in, realising that I had barely thought of who was behind the cameras through all of those documentaries watched over the years. Glad that McCrae braved the daily colder than -40°C weather conditions to film the penguins during the long dark winter. He spoke about how he felt he needed to be out with the Emperor penguins to be with them to brace the coldness together, which in turn made me jump on for the ride, feeling as though I too was snow-side, watching with breath held, wondering if they would make it through the treacherous storms, precious egg in tact or not? What a wonderful feeling it was to to grab a blanket and a warm cup of tea each night as I took a seat and entered Antartica. As I read the book I watched both documentaries that McCrae spoke about in his book, his inspiration for wanting to go to Antartica to film the Emperors (Planet Earth) as well as Dynasties- the documentary that he filmed, narrated by David Attenborough. this really helped me to see what Lindsay spoke about each night.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul McAfee

    When reading the first chapter of this book, I was almost ready to put it down. It was supposed to a story about “Life Among the Emperors”; the subtitle, but all he talked about was how he married his girlfriend, got her pregnant, and then was going to go away for 11 months, during which time she would have the baby. Not really the novel I was looking to read. However, this turned out to be a very clever way to write this book. The book was first about the life of the penguins, but also a story a When reading the first chapter of this book, I was almost ready to put it down. It was supposed to a story about “Life Among the Emperors”; the subtitle, but all he talked about was how he married his girlfriend, got her pregnant, and then was going to go away for 11 months, during which time she would have the baby. Not really the novel I was looking to read. However, this turned out to be a very clever way to write this book. The book was first about the life of the penguins, but also a story about filming the penguins, both of which were very well done and very interesting. By adding his personal life into the book, it really brought it to life. Not that I care about his personal life, but it made it very real to me, not just a documentary. If the book had been just about the penguins, it would have been quite good. If it included the story of how to film the penguins, it would have been even better. But including his own challenges made it feel like I was right there with him. Being a nature photographer myself, this really hit home. His description of the life of the Emperor Penguins was amazing. Why in the world would a species of bird decide that nesting in the winter in the coldest place in the world is a good idea? At the end, he quotes Apsley Cherry-Garrard as saying “Take it all in all, I do not believe anyone on Earth has a worse time than an emperor penguin.” His description of photographing the penguins is also amazing. The description takes two parts, one is the planning, equipment, traveling, etc., and the other is the actual photography itself. It’s hard to believe the effort, cost, and time to create just this one show. The planning started a year in advance and the equipment was the latest, greatest, and sometimes created just for this project, which had to endure tremendous weather conditions. The weather conditions were part of his very graphic descriptions of the effort to photograph the penguins all throughout their breeding cycle. The craziest scene was when he determined that he needed to photograph them during the harshest time, a winter storm with temperatures below -50 degrees Celsius and winds over 80 km/hour. All in all, a very well written book that is worth the read by anyone interested in nature or photography.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carol Wakefield

    A lovely way to spend time, living with the author in Antarctica for his year studying emperor penguins. Those penguins have the worst living conditions of any species it seems. No predators but the weather conditions more than make up for that. I experienced withthe author learning to dress appropriately (many many layers) and to use the ski doos that were his way of accessing the colony , and when storms set in living through weeks of being unable to get out of small living quarters. And incid A lovely way to spend time, living with the author in Antarctica for his year studying emperor penguins. Those penguins have the worst living conditions of any species it seems. No predators but the weather conditions more than make up for that. I experienced withthe author learning to dress appropriately (many many layers) and to use the ski doos that were his way of accessing the colony , and when storms set in living through weeks of being unable to get out of small living quarters. And incidentally welcoming into the world his first child back in England. One of the more surprising details were the ability for a small group to maintain contact with their homes these days even when unable to physically get away from a small research building. All such fun.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher on Goodreads Giveways. This book touched me so much and really helped me feel like I was up close and personal with the penguins just as Lindsay was for 11 months in Antarctica. This book made me laugh a couple of times, but mostly it made me tear up with what these incredible creatures go through just to propagate their species. It's really amazing. Also, I have no desire to ever go to Antarctica. Being this cold sounds like torture. Lindsay I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher on Goodreads Giveways. This book touched me so much and really helped me feel like I was up close and personal with the penguins just as Lindsay was for 11 months in Antarctica. This book made me laugh a couple of times, but mostly it made me tear up with what these incredible creatures go through just to propagate their species. It's really amazing. Also, I have no desire to ever go to Antarctica. Being this cold sounds like torture. Lindsay talking about his family life and being away from them was really moving as well. I'm glad he included some personal tidbits along with the nature he shares in this book.

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