Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole

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9780802117250: Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole

Fergus Fleming's captivating histories have taken us to the Alps, to the high seas, and to the heights of human endeavor. Now the acclaimed author of Barrow's Boys and Killing Dragons -- a New York Times Notable Book -- relates the epic story of the men who stopped at nothing to unravel the mysteries of the North Pole. In the nineteenth century, theories about the North Pole ran rampant. Was it an open sea? Was it a portal to new worlds within the globe? Or was it just a wilderness of ice? When Sir John Franklin disappeared in the Arctic in 1845, explorers decided it was time to find out. In scintillating detail, Ninety Degrees North tells of the vying governments (including America, Britain, Germany, and Austria-Hungary) and fantastic eccentrics (from Swedish balloonists to Italian aristocrats) who, despite their heroic failures, often achieved massive celebrity as they battled shipwreck, starvation, and sickness to reach the top of the world. Drawing on unpublished archives, and with pages of photographs and drawings, and long-forgotten journals, Fleming tells this story with consummate craftsmanship and wit. Ninety Degrees North is a riveting saga of humankind's search for the ultimate goal. "This is the sort of book you want to read in front of a blazing fire. It is immensely enjoyable." -- Daily Telegraph "A vivid, witty history ... We are in the hands of a born storyteller." -- Bookseller "

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About the Author:

Fergus Fleming is a freelance writer living in London and Gloucestershire.

From Publishers Weekly:

Whether it was believed to be surrounded by a vast, temperate sea that would facilitate speedy trade between the West and the Orient or, by one fanciful account, the gateway to a subterranean universe of wonder, there is no doubt that the North Pole exercised a powerful pull on the 19th-century imagination. Fleming (Barrow's Boys; Killing Dragons), whose first book outlined the ambitious program of British exploration set in motion by John Barrow, begins this exceptional account roughly where that one left off, recounting the major expeditions sent in search of the top of the world from 1845 to 1969. The book is fascinating for how Fleming renders the haughty, post-Enlightenment brio of the principal adventurers and the extreme, often fatal ends toward which it pushed them. Fleming beautifully weaves together intriguing journal excerpts and exhaustive expedition details to form an unforgettable impression of both the characters involved and the hardships they faced. And the hardships here are gruesome. Scarcely one of the many glory seekers from Britain, the U.S., Germany, Russia, Italy and elsewhere return from their quests wholly intact, either physically or mentally. They ate their dogs, they ate moss and, sometimes, they ate each other, but even when it became clear that nothing but a wasteland awaited them at the pole, they pressed on. Stoires like this make for a captivating look at the best and worst possibilities of the human spirit, told by an author who has established himself as one of the best adventure writers today.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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