ERE­BUS: THE STORY OF A SHIP

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Michael Palin PEN­GUIN RAN­DOM HOUSE, RRP $35

Have cam­era, will travel. That’s been ac­tor, co­me­dian, writer and TV pre­sen­ter Michael Palin’s un­of­fi­cial motto ever since he swapped the sur­real com­edy of Monty Python for the glo­be­trot­ting life of TV travel pre­sen­ter. Be­tween trips, there have been books as well and Ere­bus: The Story of a Ship is per­haps his finest achieve­ment. Oth­ers have gone be­fore him, of course, all seek­ing to ex­plain the mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance of HMS Ere­bus in the Cana­dian Arctic in 1846. But Palin, who knows a thing or two about rip­ping yarns, has left no an­chor un­turned in his quest for clues. His mar­itime re­search is ex­ten­sive, his grip on naval life au­then­tic. Best of all is the way Palin sketches char­ac­ter, es­pe­cially Sir John Franklin, who steered Ere­bus into un­charted wa­ters … with cat­a­strophic re­sults. SI­MON PLANT VER­DICT: In­spir­ing

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