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Antarctic Pioneer: The Trailblazing Life of Jackie Ronne

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Jackie Ronne reclaims her rightful place in polar history as the first American woman in Antarctica. Jackie was an ordinary American girl whose life changed after a blind date with rugged Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne. After marrying, they began planning the 1946–1948 Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition. Her participation was not welcomed by the expedition team of red-bloo Jackie Ronne reclaims her rightful place in polar history as the first American woman in Antarctica. Jackie was an ordinary American girl whose life changed after a blind date with rugged Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne. After marrying, they began planning the 1946–1948 Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition. Her participation was not welcomed by the expedition team of red-blooded males eager to prove themselves in the frozen, hostile environment of Antarctica. On March 12, 1947, Jackie Ronne became the first American woman in Antarctica and, months later, one of the first women to overwinter there. The Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition secured its place in Antarctic history, but its scientific contributions have been overshadowed by conflicts and the dangerous accidents that occurred. Jackie dedicated her life to Antarctica: she promoted the achievements of the expedition and was a pioneer in polar tourism and an early supporter of the Antarctic Treaty. In doing so, she helped shape the narrative of twentieth-century Antarctic exploration.


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Jackie Ronne reclaims her rightful place in polar history as the first American woman in Antarctica. Jackie was an ordinary American girl whose life changed after a blind date with rugged Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne. After marrying, they began planning the 1946–1948 Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition. Her participation was not welcomed by the expedition team of red-bloo Jackie Ronne reclaims her rightful place in polar history as the first American woman in Antarctica. Jackie was an ordinary American girl whose life changed after a blind date with rugged Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne. After marrying, they began planning the 1946–1948 Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition. Her participation was not welcomed by the expedition team of red-blooded males eager to prove themselves in the frozen, hostile environment of Antarctica. On March 12, 1947, Jackie Ronne became the first American woman in Antarctica and, months later, one of the first women to overwinter there. The Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition secured its place in Antarctic history, but its scientific contributions have been overshadowed by conflicts and the dangerous accidents that occurred. Jackie dedicated her life to Antarctica: she promoted the achievements of the expedition and was a pioneer in polar tourism and an early supporter of the Antarctic Treaty. In doing so, she helped shape the narrative of twentieth-century Antarctic exploration.

39 review for Antarctic Pioneer: The Trailblazing Life of Jackie Ronne

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    3.5 stars. I wish to thank NetGalley and Dundurn Press for the advance copy of Antarctic Pioneer in return for my honest review. It introduced me to this remarkable woman and her accomplishments. Jackie Ronne played an early role in opening opportunities for women in occupations formerly regarded as reserved for men. Throughout her life, she encouraged women to follow their dreams, work towards any occupation they wanted, become explorers, and take major positions on Antarctic bases. Within her 3.5 stars. I wish to thank NetGalley and Dundurn Press for the advance copy of Antarctic Pioneer in return for my honest review. It introduced me to this remarkable woman and her accomplishments. Jackie Ronne played an early role in opening opportunities for women in occupations formerly regarded as reserved for men. Throughout her life, she encouraged women to follow their dreams, work towards any occupation they wanted, become explorers, and take major positions on Antarctic bases. Within her lifetime, she saw the hostile Antarctic environment transformed. Where it was only regarded as temporary stays for the roughest and most accomplished men to endure, now there are permanent scientific bases where male and female experts work together in relative harmony. Some bases have schools for children, a post office, a bank, and babies have been born there. In her later life, Jackie supported the Antarctic Treaty and was a pioneer in advocating opening the continent for polar tourism. This was an impeccably researched book. I was pleased with the addition of many photographs and maps, which helped bring the characters and the ice station to life. I thought the book was written in textbook or newspaper style and omitted details that would have brought some of the human drama and living conditions forefront. I felt sections could be shortened, especially Jackie's incessant excursions into high society towards the end. This was important as it emphasized contacts who helped advocate for her goals of bettering cooperation and working conditions on the frozen continent, but I thought it became repetitive. Jackie married Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne. She worked at the State Department, and neither planned to have a typical 1940's married life. She accompanied him on his 1946-1948 Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition, was the first American woman to set foot in the Antarctic and was the first of two women to spend a year there over the long, dark winter months. Having women along was met with hostility by the men. Many resented Finn's leadership style. His inflexible management, supposed paranoia, strictness, anger, and orders for hard work and discipline made him unpopular with his crew. The men were younger and bound for adventure. Jackie stayed out of their way when possible, except when using diplomacy to mend disputes. The base itself had been looted when they arrived and was in deplorable condition. Much of the organization and reports were left to Jackie, and she became a valuable expedition member. She usually gave credit to her husband for her part in the tasks to preserve his legacy. She minimized her contributions in his books and marginalized her achievements. In this well-documented book, she diminished her place in history. The author has helped restore her importance. The Ronne expedition was successful, with exploration, mapping, and photographing of much unknown coastline and surface, but Finn's reputation was diminished. Even Admiral Byrd did much to undermine him. Finn participated in 9 polar expeditions during his lifetime. From 1956-to 57, he was the military and scientific leader at Ellsworth station during the International Geographic Year. Jackie remained home but wrote to him, urging him to avoid disputes, but his leadership role was diminished due to unpopularity with others. After his death, Jackie became a powerful force advocating for the Antarctic. She returned to the place she remembered and loved on a luxury cruise with their daughter 50 years after living and working there. Recommended to those interested in women's gains in the workplace, especially in areas usually reserved for men, Polar exploration, the history of Antarctica, and modern women explorers.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Antarctic Pioneer: The Trailblazing Life of Jackie Ronne by Joanna Kafarowski is a great biography that shines the spotlight on one of the first women to land/stay/overwinter in Antartica. Fascinating! I love learning about Polar Expeditions overall, so when I saw this gem on one of the first women not only to land on the continent, but also to stay overwinter for 15 months. Edith “Jackie” Ronne was an American and joined her husband (a veteran in the way of expeditions) with his crew on the expe Antarctic Pioneer: The Trailblazing Life of Jackie Ronne by Joanna Kafarowski is a great biography that shines the spotlight on one of the first women to land/stay/overwinter in Antartica. Fascinating! I love learning about Polar Expeditions overall, so when I saw this gem on one of the first women not only to land on the continent, but also to stay overwinter for 15 months. Edith “Jackie” Ronne was an American and joined her husband (a veteran in the way of expeditions) with his crew on the expedition to Antartica from 1947-1948 (her first trip). She was a valuable resource and wrote journals, recording events, dispatches (sometimes under her husband’s name), and helped gather data. She was a pioneer, blazing a trail for women into a land still not completely known, and into a “man’s world”. Were things perfect? Nope. There were significant challenges physically, geographically, interpersonally, and logistical. However, the dedication, work, passion, initiative, and talent she possessed solidified her place in history and helped return vital information to help put additional pieces to the puzzle that was still not completed that was Antartica. She said she wouldn’t go again, but she did. Her love and interest rose above obstacles, and through her story, hopefully it will inspire more young women and girls to follow their hopes and dreams as well. The author did a great job presenting this information so that I was drawn in from the beginning and have been furthering my research into her life. I loved the accompanying images and pictures. Just stunning. 5/5 stars Thank you EW and Dundurn Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 5/10/22.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    This is my second book by this author about female polar explorers and I enjoyed it as much as I did the first one. This one is great with the love story between Jackie and Finn. I think Jackie was far more than an ordinary American girl before becoming an explorer though. Her college degree and job with the Department of State weren’t the usual back in the late 1940s. She was very accomplished. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I absolutely love reading biographies about accomplished women overlooked by history books. I'd never heard of Jackie Ronne before reading this, but this was an excellent and well-researched look at her life and accomplishments as one of the first American women in Antarctica. Recommended for anyone interested in the history of Antarctic exploration or anyone interested in reading about accomplished women! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC! I absolutely love reading biographies about accomplished women overlooked by history books. I'd never heard of Jackie Ronne before reading this, but this was an excellent and well-researched look at her life and accomplishments as one of the first American women in Antarctica. Recommended for anyone interested in the history of Antarctic exploration or anyone interested in reading about accomplished women! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    This was a fascinating biography. I had never heard of Jackie Ronne before, but now I feel like I know her and would like to know her better. A great work of nonfiction makes the reader want to learn more about the topic. I would like to read the books Jackie and her husband wrote. In addition to a well-written, well-researched narrative, the book includes beautiful photos of Jackie, her family and associates as well as photos and illustrations relevant to the Antarctic expedition. Appendices li This was a fascinating biography. I had never heard of Jackie Ronne before, but now I feel like I know her and would like to know her better. A great work of nonfiction makes the reader want to learn more about the topic. I would like to read the books Jackie and her husband wrote. In addition to a well-written, well-researched narrative, the book includes beautiful photos of Jackie, her family and associates as well as photos and illustrations relevant to the Antarctic expedition. Appendices list the scientific contributions made by the Ronne expedition and a timeline of women's exploration of the Antarctic. The author discussed Jackie's perspective and experiences based on cultural norms of the time. It was very interesting to read about how Jackie functioned as a professional in the shadow of her husband. It places her career into context. I cannot help but wonder how Jackie was compensated for much of her early work. In some cases she was probably an unpaid appendage of her husband. I would have liked to know more about this aspect of her career. Overall, I really enjoyed this biography and would recommend it to anyone interested in women's history, polar exploration, and biographies of historically important women. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Noble

    In 1947 Jackie (Edith) Ronne, married to Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne, became the first woman to stay on Antarctica for almost a year. Initially only helping to plan RARE (Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition), Jackie found herself drawn to the vast continent & when the opportunity came up, she decided to go on the expedition after all. The wife of another RARE member also went but it was Jackie who took center stage as the one who wrote up dozens of articles to keep the expedition at the forefr In 1947 Jackie (Edith) Ronne, married to Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne, became the first woman to stay on Antarctica for almost a year. Initially only helping to plan RARE (Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition), Jackie found herself drawn to the vast continent & when the opportunity came up, she decided to go on the expedition after all. The wife of another RARE member also went but it was Jackie who took center stage as the one who wrote up dozens of articles to keep the expedition at the forefront of the public's minds. It was a difficult expedition from the start as it took quite a lot of fundraising & Jackie & Finn felt they didn't receive the full backing of some influential people. Bad luck also dogged the trip when one of their planes (which was to be used to take landscape photographs of Antarctica) was badly damaged beyond repair when being loaded onto the ship, & one of the expedition members had to be let go before they even set sail. Things weren't much better when they arrived at the East Station where they were supposed to stay, & everyone was aghast at the mess that had been left by ransackers & illegal occupiers since it was last officially in use. Still, they made the best of it & their expedition was successful in the end with thousands of square miles of unmapped land being photographed, & it was proved beyond a doubt that Antarctica was one continent & not divided by sea. There's not a lot of detail about the expedition itself, the book is more about the relationship between Jackie & Finn, & also the others on the trip. It seems Finn could be quite difficult to work & live with & there were divides which flared up amongst the crew that lasted the rest of their lives. Even though Jackie wrote a great deal about the expedition whilst there & when she returned, a lot of it was published under the names of others, & Jackie has almost been airbrushed out of the history of Antarctic exploration - I had certainly never heard of her before I requested this book to read. Although she fought to ensure her husband's legacy was remembered after his death, her own achievements have been almost forgotten, & she didn't seem to join the fight for feminism in general. Although she had these amazing opportunities (she returned to Antarctica later in life as a tour guide), her outlook was still very traditional. I enjoyed reading about the expedition & about its place in polar exploration, & it was interesting to read about some of the women who later went on to have much more active roles. Jackie was not only successful in Antarctica but held several jobs of responsibility, was a member of Society of Women Geographers, & the Ronne Award for Antarctic Research or Exploration was awarded to two recipients in 2011 & 2014. Yet the early history of polar exploration is still very much male-focused. Let's hope this book can go some way to changing that. Thanks to NetGalley & publishers, Dundurn Press, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I was perusing Netgalley and saw a book about an Antarctic expedition, so I had to request. This had no crazy crises like most of the polar expedition books I choose to read, but it was illuminating and familiar nonetheless! I was glad for the overview of somewhat typical American home life in the late 1940s, with what would have been expected of a wife who wantd to somewhat keep employment and not stay at home. Nonetheless, Edith's aunt seemed like a far more illuminating character in that regar I was perusing Netgalley and saw a book about an Antarctic expedition, so I had to request. This had no crazy crises like most of the polar expedition books I choose to read, but it was illuminating and familiar nonetheless! I was glad for the overview of somewhat typical American home life in the late 1940s, with what would have been expected of a wife who wantd to somewhat keep employment and not stay at home. Nonetheless, Edith's aunt seemed like a far more illuminating character in that regard. I would also have liked more focus on the Antarctic expedition itself. It occupied a scant two chapters, very little actually on Edith herself or what made Antarctica so inhospitable (though I guess by the 1940s it was a bit less dire). Overall, this was a very light brushing of history. I didn't leave this book thinking that Edith Ronne was a wrongfully forgotten pioneer of women's science (it seemed like her aunt was closer to that). There wasn't a lot of elucidation on drama that kept the Ronnes from becoming household names, which also could have been entertaining. However, it was a pretty easy read for a history book and the author didn't add too much unwanted flavor commentary. Thank you to Netgalley for the review copy!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    Good biography of a little-known woman. I enjoyed this biography of Edith "Jackie" Ronne, wife of polar explorer Finn Ronne and the first woman to overwinter in the Antarctic. Contrary to my expectations, Jackie Ronne was not an explorer or scientist, but when she accompanied her husband, at his request, on his expedition, she became more than a passenger. As well as achieving several "firsts", she handled most of the communication with the newspapers and ever after was known, at least to some de Good biography of a little-known woman. I enjoyed this biography of Edith "Jackie" Ronne, wife of polar explorer Finn Ronne and the first woman to overwinter in the Antarctic. Contrary to my expectations, Jackie Ronne was not an explorer or scientist, but when she accompanied her husband, at his request, on his expedition, she became more than a passenger. As well as achieving several "firsts", she handled most of the communication with the newspapers and ever after was known, at least to some degree, as an adventurer in her own right. However, both Ronnes don't seem to be very well known, and this lively and informative biography has a lot of information about Finn Ronne as well as his wife. I would have liked more about the expedition they were on together, but I understand that the author wanted to focus mostly on Jackie Ronne. Jackie had a very interesting life and it was fun reading about her. I'm a little obsessed by books about polar exploration and I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this one. I'd like to thank the publisher, Dundum Press, and Netgalley for kindly providing me with an advance release copy, I really appreciate it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    What a lesson in history. I never had heard of Jackie Ronne and this book was an eyeopener. It's a relatively short read. The last 1/3 of the book is foot notes and citations. I know it's been well researched. From 1946-48 Ms. Ronne and her husband went to the Antarctic on a privately funded expedition. She mapped much of the areas. There is a lot of controversy surrounding their trip. She was instrumental in the following years for keeping the area for scientific research. A great book for teen What a lesson in history. I never had heard of Jackie Ronne and this book was an eyeopener. It's a relatively short read. The last 1/3 of the book is foot notes and citations. I know it's been well researched. From 1946-48 Ms. Ronne and her husband went to the Antarctic on a privately funded expedition. She mapped much of the areas. There is a lot of controversy surrounding their trip. She was instrumental in the following years for keeping the area for scientific research. A great book for teens who need to read a biography or find a woman of interest to write about. I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    An interesting look at the life of Jackie Ronne. She was the wife of Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne and accompanied him on an expedition for over a year. I’ve read a few books about the people who experienced Antarctica but was unfamiliar with Ronne. Antarctica played a huge role in her life, privately and personally. The author does a good job in illustrating Ronne’s life and her active participation in promoting Antarctica. It’s an interesting biography. Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley, and Dundurn An interesting look at the life of Jackie Ronne. She was the wife of Antarctic explorer Finn Ronne and accompanied him on an expedition for over a year. I’ve read a few books about the people who experienced Antarctica but was unfamiliar with Ronne. Antarctica played a huge role in her life, privately and personally. The author does a good job in illustrating Ronne’s life and her active participation in promoting Antarctica. It’s an interesting biography. Thanks to Edelweiss, NetGalley, and Dundurn Press for the advance read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. You know the story, girl meets boy, boy invites girl to explore Antarctica with him, girl becomes trailblazing pioneer. Tale as old as time. The story of Jackie Ronne is similar to many, many kickass women who for too long have been dismissed as "and his wife" instead of recognizing the work, advances, discoveries and explorations they themselves did. An excellent, full biography about an important member of the history of Antarctica exploration. Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. You know the story, girl meets boy, boy invites girl to explore Antarctica with him, girl becomes trailblazing pioneer. Tale as old as time. The story of Jackie Ronne is similar to many, many kickass women who for too long have been dismissed as "and his wife" instead of recognizing the work, advances, discoveries and explorations they themselves did. An excellent, full biography about an important member of the history of Antarctica exploration.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dundurn Press

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Hattaway

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cucaya

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cucaya

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deanna

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Marshall

  20. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Burger

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adam K

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mara

  26. 4 out of 5

    Indrė Barškutytė

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anjali

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dana Williams

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  30. 4 out of 5

    Allison Bernard

  31. 4 out of 5

    Kasia Hubbard

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  33. 4 out of 5

    Cody

  34. 4 out of 5

    Fran Burdsall

  35. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

  36. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Babanics

  37. 4 out of 5

    Stephanos

  38. 4 out of 5

    Laura Wallace

  39. 5 out of 5

    Abby Dalton

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