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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.
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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 ›
You'll get a fine introduction to the Peary-Frederick A Cook rivalry. However, if you need to deepend your knowledge of that controversy, may I suggest "Cook and Peary, the Polar controversy resolved". Dr Cook is a fellow one has to know.
Back to the book at hand, you'll learn that the British Navy...learned absolutly nothing about polar travel and your appreciation of Robert Falcon Scott will sink even lower.
5 big stars for Pierre Berton.
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 5 months 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
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
This is a great, all-encompassing view of Arctic exploration from 1818-1909. It is a book about explorers as much as exploration, and about the people behind the scenes, such as... Read morePublished on May 29 2001 by Scott Swindle