Safe Return Doubtful: The Heroic Age of Polar Exploration

John Maxtone-Graham, Author Scribner Book Company $0 (364p) ISBN 978-0-684-18987-1
An expedition leader's death by arsenic poisoning; charges of cannibalism; over eight decades, 751 lives lost in quest of the North Pole; the heroics and tragedy of the race to the South Pole: in the literature of adventure, the story of polar exploration is second to none. It was the ultimate challenge of man against the elements with no technological support. Maxtone-Graham ( The Only Way to Cross ) reviews the early expeditions to the ArcticGeorge Nares, Charles Hall, John Franklin et al.then focuses at length on Fridtjot Nansen and his voyage in Fram . This, according to the author, was the start of the heroic age. Moving south, Maxtone-Graham recounts briefly other voyages, including de Gomery in Belgica (with Frederick Cook and Roald Amundsen aboard), the first group to winter over on Antarctica, and the first Robert Scott expedition, which was followed by Ernest Shackleton's attempt at the Pole. He takes us north again to the Peary-Cook imbroglio, and is inclined to believe that Robert Peary reached the North Pole. The heroic age of polar exploration ended with Amundsen and Scott, with triumph and disaster. This is a grand sto ry, vividly told. Photos. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
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