TRUE NORTH: Peary, Cook and the Race to the Pole

Bruce B. Henderson, Author . Norton $24.95 (331p) ISBN 978-0-393-05791-1

On April 21, 1908, American explorer Frederick Cook reached the North Pole. A year later, fellow Arctic pioneer Robert Peary denounced him, claiming to have reached the Pole first. In this first-rate tale of adventure, bravery and perfidy, Henderson (And the Sea Will Tell ) attempts to identify the winner. In 1891, Cook, recovering from the deaths of both his wife and child and seeking adventure, was hired by Peary as chief medical officer on an expedition to Greenland. The men clashed, setting the stage for later conflict (and providing excellent fodder for this exciting book). Hooked on extreme cold weather quests, Cook journeyed to the Antarctic and was also the first to summit Mount McKinley. In Henderson's telling, Peary too craved adventure, but his insatiable desire for fame was his driving force. "Remember, mother, I must have fame," Henderson quotes Peary saying in a letter to his mother. When Peary learned Cook had reached the Pole before him, Peary painted Cook as a liar and a fraud. According to Henderson, Cook reacted to the barrage by going into seclusion, and when he emerged, it was too late to save his reputation. Peary's claim to the Pole was later dismissed, but Cook's achievement was never recognized. This adventure yarn delivers as both a cautionary tale and a fitting memorial to polar exploration. Illus. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 331 pages - 978-0-393-32738-0
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