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 end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, the British Admiralty converted a number of small, sturdy vessels for exploration and survey duty. The most famous - and ultimately tragic - exploration of this era was John Franklin's journey across Canada's polar region between 1819-22. On the recommendation of the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, Franklin was handed the task of determining the latitudes and longitudes of the poorly chartered northern coasts of the North American continent, and was to erect conspicuous marks at places where ships might enter. He was also to measure air temperature three times a day, and record any other meteorological phenomenon encountered. Assisted by a small team, Franklin was also to sketch the landscape, anthropologically study the native Indians, and record the area's natural history.
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.
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?
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.
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
"Nail-biting true adventure."--Kirkus Reviews In 1909, two men laid rival claims to this crown jewel of exploration. A century later, the battle rages still. This book is about one of the most enduring and vitriolic feuds in the history of exploration. "What a consummate cur he is," said Robert Peary of Frederick Cook in 1911. Cook responded, "Peary has stooped to every crime from rape to murder." They had started out as friends and shipmates, with Cook, a doctor, accompanying Peary, a civil engineer, on an expedition to northern Greenland in 1891. Peary's leg was shattered in an accident, and without Cook's care he might never have walked again. But by the summer of 1909, all the goodwill was gone. Peary said he had reached the Pole in September 1909; Cook scooped him, presenting evidence that he had gotten there in 1908. Bruce Henderson makes a wonderful narrative out of the claims and counterclaims, and he introduces fascinating scientific and psychological evidence to put the appalling details of polar travel in a new context.