Polar Affair
Lloyd Spencer Davis

Book cover image

Narrated By: Raphael Corkhill

Duration: 13 hours and 9 minutes

What to expect

A captivating blend of true adventure and natural history by one of today’s leading penguin experts and Antarctic explorers

George Murray Levick was the physician on Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic Antarctic expedition of 1910. Marooned for an Antarctic winter, Levick passed the time by becoming the first man to study penguins up close. His findings were so shocking to Victorian morals that they were quickly suppressed and seemingly lost to history.

A century later, Lloyd Spencer Davis rediscovers Levick and his findings during the course of his own scientific adventures in Antarctica. Levick’s long-suppressed manuscript reveals not only an incredible survival story, but one that will change our understanding of an entire species.

A Polar Affair reveals the last untold tale from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. It is perhaps the greatest of all of those stories—but why was it hidden to begin with? The ever-fascinating and charming penguin holds the key. Moving deftly between both Levick’s and Davis’s explorations, observations, and comparisons in biology over the course of a century, A Polar Affair reveals cutting-edge findings about ornithology, in which the sex lives of penguins are the jumping-off point for major new insights into the underpinnings of evolutionary biology itself.


Wildlife: birds and birdwatching: general interest, The Earth: natural history: general interest, Glaciers and ice caps, Zoology: birds (ornithology), Evolution, Biography: adventurers and explorers, Science: general issues

Listen to a sample

“A rip-roaring read on research at the edge.”


“Fascinating….Insightful…A timely illumination of a mysterious and vital ecosystem.”

New York Times Book Review

“A gonzo-journalistic retelling of the Antarctic expeditions of the early twentieth century. The climax of what might otherwise have been routine field work is a harrowing trek…intercut with evolutionary insights Davis gleaned from his own observations. A welcome look behind the scenes, representing Levick as a brilliant explorer and a keen observer of nature.”

Natural History Magazine

“Victorian morals, the sex lives of penguins, and Antarctic exploration combine in this unusual natural history and travelogue.”

Shelf Awareness

“Davis serves it all up with wit and a wry, irrepressible sense of humor, while imparting everything there is to know about penguins.”

BookPage (starred review)

“Davis combines history and science seamlessly.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A tremendous resource.”