Both the increase of migration to Patagonia and the Chilean-Argentinian controversy over some tracts of border lands seem to have prompted the publication of this study about the history and geography of the southern half of the Patagonian ice cap and its surrounding areas. The author, a Chilean, has produced since 1970 five books, all dealing with historical, geographical, and political problems of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, and the Antarctic. The present work was issued under the auspices of the Departamento de Historia y Geografía del Instituto de la Patagonia, with the purpose of disseminating in Chile a general knowledge about the area and making this document available in the form of a monograph easy to consult. The book thus contains a short geographical description of Chilean Patagonian lands situated between the Gulf of Penas and Tierra del Fuego. This is followed by the core of the work, the history of exploration of this land, from its discovery by Ladrillero and Ojea in 1557 to the modern mountaineering expeditions of the late 1970s. A third section covers past and present settlements and political administration in these lands. A fourth and last section is devoted to an analysis of the history of boundary conflicts with Argentina and to a study of existing Patagonian cartography. There is an appendix with a table of climbing expeditions to the peaks of the ice cap proper, a brief bibliography, and a list of local maps and charts.

Basically this is the equivalent of an official Chilean government document, aimed at keeping Chileans informed about the past and present situation of their lands lying at a remote end of their extensive territory. Treatment of these topics as described is straightforward and efficient. On p. 14 and again on p. 17 the author states that Ladrillero and Ojea were the first European mariners to have sighted a glacier in the New World. This is not so, since early in the century the Santa Marta range in Colombia had already been seen and explored by Spaniards and it is also very possible that the ice range of Mérida in Venezuela had been visited, not only by Spaniards but by Germans.

Useful to historians, mountaineers, Latin Americanists, and even to glaciologists, this book is the product of the enthusiasm of a man for a land that many today consider hostile to human life.