Elisha Kent Kane, scion of a wealthy and influential Philadelphia family, became a legend of 19th-century America. Before he was 30, he had descended into a volcano in the Philippines, infiltrated a company of slave traders in West Africa and narrowly survived hand-to-hand combat in the Sierra Madre while carrying a secret message from the president of the United States. Yet Kane would achieve his greatest fame by exploring the High Arctic, an adventure that began when he sailed in search of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin and the open water of an alleged “polar sea” around the North Pole. In the mid-1850s, Kane pushed farther north than any other voyager, then spent two years trapped in the ice before leading a desperate but heroic retreat that only added to his legend. Kane also enjoyed a secret love affair with a young Canadian-born spiritualist named Maggie Fox, a celebrated “spirit rapper” deemed unsuitable by his family. How this relationship combined with Kane’s tragic early death to deny him his rightful place in history is one of the most dramatic aspects of the book. Race to the Polar Sea tells the story of a romantic adventurer driven by dreams of glory. It is a tale of heroism, courage and conspiracy that evokes an age when the Arctic seemed a white, booming emptiness, beautiful and unknowable.
In the age of adventure, when dirigibles coasted through the air and vast swaths of the Earth remained untouched and unseen by man, one pack of relentless explorers competed in the race of a lifetime: to be the first aviator to fly over the North Pole. What inspired their dangerous fascination? For some, it was the romantic theory about a “lost world,” a hidden continent in the Arctic Ocean. Others were seduced by new aviation technology, which they strove to push to its ultimate limit. The story of their quest is breathtaking and inspiring; the heroes are still a matter of debate. It was the 1920s. The main players in this high stakes game were Richard Byrd, a dashing Navy officer and early aviation pioneer; and Roald Amundsen, a Viking in the sky, bitter rival of Byrd’s and a hardened veteran of polar expeditions. Each man was determined to be the first aviator to fly over the North Pole, despite brutal weather conditions, financial disasters, world wars, and their own personal demons. Byrd and Amundsen’s epic struggle for air primacy ended in a Homeric episode, in which one man had to fly to the rescue of his downed nemesis, and left behind an enduring mystery: who was the first man to fly over the North Pole? Race to the Top of the World: Richard Byrd and the First Flight to the North Pole is a fast-paced, larger-than-life adventure story from Sheldon Bart, the only historian with unprecedented access to Richard Byrd’s personal archives. With powerful, never-before-seen evidence of the race to pioneer one of Earth’s last true frontiers, Race to the Top of the World is a story of a day when men were heroes and the wild was untamed.
With our access to Google Maps, Global Positioning Systems, and Atlases that cover all regions and terrains and tell us precisely how to get from one place to another, we tend to forget there was ever a time when the world was unknown and uncharted--a mystery waiting to be solved. In On the Edge, Roger McCoy tells the captivating--and often harrowing--story of the 400 year effort to map North America's Coasts. Much of the book is based on the narratives of mariners who sought a passage through the continent to Asia and produced maps as a byproduct of their journeys. These courageous explorers had to rely on the most rudimentary mapping tools and to contend with unimaginably harsh conditions: ship-crushing ice floes; the threat of frostbite, scurvy, and starvation; gold fever and mutiny; ice that could lock them in for months on end; and, inevitably, the failure to find the elusive Northwest passage. Telling the story from the explorers' perspective, McCoy allows readers to see how maps of their voyages were made and why they were so full of errors, as well as how they gradually acquired greater accuracy, especially after the longitude problem was solved. On the Edge tracks the dramatic voyages of John Cabot, John Davis, Captain Cook, Henry Hudson, Martin Frobisher, John Franklin (who nearly starved to death and become known in England as "the man who ate his boots"), and others, concluding with Robert Peary, Otto Sverdrup, and Vihjalmur Steffanson in the early twentieth century. Drawing upon diaries, journals, and other primary sources--and including a set of maps charting the progress of exploration over time--On the Edge shows exactly how we came to know the shape of our continent.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Scott Joplin struggled on the margins of society to play a pivotal role in the creation of ragtime music. His brief life and tragic death encompassed a tumultuous time of changes in modern music, culture, and technology. This biography follows Joplin's life from the brothels and bars of St. Louis to the music mills of Tin Pan Alley as he introduced a syncopated, lively style to classical piano.
Polynyas are relatively ice-free regions when compared to the areas around them, and have been suggested as being foci for energy transfer between the atmosphere and ocean, ice “factories , and critical areas with respect to polar ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles. This volume presents an integrated, multidisciplinary review of polynyas in both the Arctic and Antarctic. It emphasizes the meteorology, ice dynamics, oceanography, biological components, chemistry, and modeling of these systems, particularly with respect to their roles in polar processes and distributions. The various interactions within polynyas, particularly between the physical forcing and biological responses, is emphasized, as are the potential changes in polynyas that might occur under a climate regime that is rapidly changing. The authors of the reviews are leaders among their respective countries in polynya research, and all are internationally recognized. * Addresses the findings from actively researched polynyas and reports on the new understandings of polar systems that have evolved from these studies * Includes topics from meteorology to physics to biology and chemistry, and seeks to integrate them into a synthetic assessment * Provides material from both the Arctic and Antarctic, which is highly unusual in books of this type
In late 1911, the final year of the Edwardian age, a British naval captain and a Norwegian conqueror of the North-West Passage embarked on the most gruelling race ever run. Their aim was not only to lead the first expedition to the South Pole, but also to live to tell the tale. Six months later, Robert Falcon Scott and four of his party were dead, while Roald Amundsens victory had been wired around the world. A century on, the debate still rages. Was Scott unfortunate or incompetent? Was Amundsen a genius or lucky? In a unique television experiment, two teams led by the Norwegian explorer Rune Gjeldnes and the television anthropologist Bruce Parry, star of the BBC2 series Tribe, set out to recreate the famous race. Wearing the same type of clothing as their predecessors, surviving on the same diet, using the same equipment and travelling over the same distance, they seek to answer some of the burning questions. Blizzard is a dramatic chronicle of both the original epic, and its reconstruction. Jasper Reess narrative skilfully intertwines past and present as he brings to life an extraordinary cast of characters. They may be separated from their predecessors by nearly a hundred years, but the modern race teams soon discover that, in polar travel, nothing changes. Among the hardships they face are uncontrollable dogs, inedible food, invisible crevasses, unimaginable cold, all in an unending prairie of snow. Incorporating the gripping diaries of Parry and Gjeldnes, Blizzard paints an astonishing picture of comradeship in the face of physical danger and psychological torment in the most life-threatening habitat on earth.
Conquering Antarctica in the world's toughest endurance race
Author: Ben Fogle
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
New Year's Day, 2009. Somewhere on the bottom of the world, six teams of adventurers and explorers have gathered to race one another, on foot, to the South Pole. It is the first time that anyone has undertaken such a race in almost a hundred years; the first time since the great Norwegian, Roald Amundsen, beat Captain Scott to the same goal in 1911. The stakes are high, as double-Olympic Gold-winning medallist James Cracknell and TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle must contend with hidden crevasses, frostbite and the favourites to win: a team of teak-hard former soldiers from Norway, trained in Arctic warfare. Temperatures as low as minus 45 degrees Celsius lie in store for the teams as they attempt to ski across 800 kilometres of unforgiving, icy wilderness, pulling behind them sledges laden with equipment, tents and food. Race to the Pole is a rip-roaring 'boy's own' adventure packed with excitement, humour and even a few tears. But with just a few months to learn to cross-country ski before the start, and with national pride at stake, can Ben and James re-write history and beat the Norwegians?
The Untold Story of John Rae, the Arctic Adventurer Who Discovered the Fate of Franklin
Author: Kenneth McGoogan
The truth is that John Rae solved the two great mysteries ofnineteenth-century Arctic exploration: during a single expedition in 1854, hediscovered both the fate of the Franklin expedition and the only NorthwestPassage navigable by the ships of that time -- the fatal passage explorers hadbeen seeking for centuries. -- from Fatal Passage Not long after he began reading the handwritten, 820-page diary of Scottishexplorer John Rae, Ken McGoogan realized that here was an astonishing story,hidden from the world for almost 150 years. McGoogan, who was originallyconducting research for a novel, recognized the injustice committed against Rae.He was determined to restore the adventurer's rightful place in history as theman who discovered not only the grisly truth about the lost Franklin expedition,but also the final link in the elusive Northwest Passage. Fatal Passage is McGoogan's completely absorbing account of John Rae'sincredible accomplishments and his undeserved and wholesale discreditation atthe hands of polite Victorian society. After sifting through thousands of pagesof research, maps and charts, and traveling to England, Scotland and the Arcticto visit the places Rae knew, McGoogan has produced a book that reads like afast-paced novel -- a smooth synthesis of adventure story, travelogue andhistorical biography. Fatal Passage is a richly detailed portrait of a time whenthe ambitions of the Empire knew no bounds. John Rae was an adventurous young medical doctor from Orkney who signed onwith the Hudson's Bay Company in 1833. He lived in the Canadian wilds for morethan two decades, becoming legendary as a hunter and snowshoer, before he turnedto exploration. Famous for what was then a unique attitude -- a willingness tolearn from and use the knowledge and skills of aboriginal peoples -- Rae becamethe first European to survive an Arctic winter while living solely off the land. One of dozens of explorers and naval men commissioned by the BritishAdmiralty to find out what became of Sir John Franklin and his two ships, Raereturned from the Arctic to report that the most glorious expedition everlaunched had ended with no survivors -- and worse, that it had degenerated intocannibalism. Unwilling to accept that verdict, Victorian England not onlyostracized Rae, but ignored his achievements, and credited Franklin with thediscovery of the Passage. Fatal Passage is Ken McGoogan's brilliant vindication of John Rae'slife and rightful place in history, a book for armchair adventurers, Arcticenthusiasts, lovers of Canadian history, and all those who revel in a story of physical courage andmoral integrity. Read an opinion piece by Ken McGoogan: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/opinion1/stories/010415/5013219.html