The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909 Paperback – Oct 9 2001
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The polar north has always lured the passionate mind, the eccentric, and the damned. Pierre Bertons The Arctic Grail is a substantial chronicle of these explorers, some of whom sought an economical northern route to the East and others adventure and fame, not to mention the backers who supported their primarily marine expeditions. Bertons prose reads like good fiction, providing insight into the lives of the men who journeyed north--and those left behind hoping for their safe return. I would not recall you, wrote Isabella Parry to her absent husband in her diary. Your path leads to glory and honour and never would I turn you from that path when I feel it is the path you ought to go....
The obstinate pride of the planners and leaders of these expeditions commanded respect from their peers despite a recurring failure to learn from past, often fatal errors. The icon of the north, John Franklin, who through his disappearance became the symbol of nineteenth-century Arctic exploration, is but one of the players. Other less familiar names figure in. Theres John Ross, whose 1818 expedition was one of the earliest. And William Edward Parry, whose failed 1824-1825 voyage to find the Northwest Passage resulted in the wrecking of his vessel The Fury. And first officer W. Parker Snow, who specialized in tall tales of the murder of John Franklin by Eskimos. Each contributes to The Arctic Grail a sense of adventure, passion, and perseverance in the face of all that nature can unleash. --Tim Tokaryk
From Publishers Weekly
This spirited history probes the 15-year search for Sir John Franklin's lost expedition in the mid-19th century and the Frederick Cook-Robert Peary controversy. "Readers who think the ultimate adventure took place at the South Pole should rediscover the Arctic explorations," said PW. Illustrated. Author tour.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
In the published memoirs of that stubborn and often maddening Arctic explorer Sir John Ross, there is a remarkable illustration of an encounter that took place on August 10, 1818, between two British naval officers and a band of Greenland Eskimos. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a story of the search for the Northwest Passage, that elusive waterway that would let ships sail over the north of what is now Canada, instead of having to sail around the tip of South America. Even after the British had determined that the icy arctic conditions and the maze of islands made the Northwest Passage worthless as a commercial shipping route, they were still determined to find it anyway. Ship after ship headed to the Arctic to find the passage, sometimes spending two or three winters trapped in the ice, with only a few warm summer months each year in which to explore before the winter ice returned. Many men died, mostly because of the remarkable inability of the British Navy to learn from its mistakes, or more importantly, to learn from the natives, who had lived in the Arctic for thousands of years. The British sailors wore wool instead of fur and sealskin, refused to hunt (they didn't even know how), suffered from scurvy from their impractical diets, and hauled extremely heavy sledges over the ice with man power instead of dogs. Not only did the British fail to learn from the natives, but the natives also got less than their fair share of credit at the time for helping avert death and starvation for hundreds of expeditions over the years.
This is also a story of the quest to reach the North Pole. Early explorers held the belief that the top of the world was an open polar sea, and tried to sail all the way to the pole. Once that theory was abandoned, explorers tried other ways of getting there.Read more ›
The section on Edward Parry's near-completion of the Passage in 1819 is superb, as are those on the tragic Franklin Expedition, and the very flawed quest for the North Pole on the part of Cook and Peary (which was the most corrupt? A good question.)
The Arctic is a fascinating place. My wife Chris and I have lived in Barrow for over two decades, and we still get a thrill when we see the Arctic Ocean on our drives or walks around town. but the Arctic is often misunderstood. Berton sets the record straight, about the explorers, the Native people who had so much to teach the outsiders, and the fascinating, but fragile, part of our globe. buy this new edition before it gets out of print. Earl Finkler
Most recent customer reviews
Pretty much the definitive narrative for Arctic exploration. Berton has such a gift for giving historical figures life, and the men and women involved in Arctic exploration are... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
I wish I had time to read all of Berton's books.
This is arguably the best account of the amazing feats of the 19th century Arctic exploration. Read more
Not as good as the Last Spike or the National Dream, but it is still Pierre Berton, which is to say that stories are masterfully crafted and written. Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2012 by G. McNabb
First thing, I ran out of Antarctic books to read. I've read them all. So, naturally, I had to find something else to read. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2009 by Marc Ranger
I was already a great fan of Pierre Berton, as well as being very interested in arctic exploration and history, so it was a natural that I picked this book up. Read morePublished on May 22 2004 by Melvin Scott
The book is a superb account of the history of Arctic exploration in the 19th and early 20th century. Read morePublished on Dec 10 2001 by Leo Hamulczyk
Out of print for a number of years, "The Arctic Grail" is indeed the Holy Grail of Arctic history books. Read morePublished on July 23 2001 by J. BURGESON