cover image Wanderlust: An Eccentric Explorer, an Epic Journey, a Lost Age

Wanderlust: An Eccentric Explorer, an Epic Journey, a Lost Age

Reid Mitenbuler. Mariner, $28.99 (512p) ISBN 978-0-358-46832-5

Journalist Mitenbuler (Wild Minds) recounts the adventures of Danish explorer Peter Freuchen (1886–1957) in this captivating and colorful saga. At age 20, Freuchen dropped out of medical school at the University of Copenhagen, joined an expedition to Greenland, and got hooked on Arctic exploration. For 18 years, he explored the Far North, studying Inuit culture and eventually marrying an Inuit woman. He stopped exploring at age 37, after he became trapped beneath his own sled during a blizzard, fashioned his frozen feces into a chisel to dig his way out, and developed such severe frostbite that his foot and part of his leg had to be amputated. Freuchen went on to consult on Arctic-inspired scripts for MGM, hide Nazi refugees and assist the Danish resistance during WWII, tour the world giving lectures on his expeditions and the need to protect the Inuit way of life, and win The $64,000 Question, then America’s most popular quiz show, in 1956. Throughout, Mitenbuler’s vivid prose and sly wit keep the pages turning: “In this way,” he writes about a busywork assignment Freuchen received from the head of MGM’s writing department, “Hollywood was surprisingly similar to Arctic expeditions: there were often long periods with nothing to do.” This adventure story is impossible to resist. Agent: Heather Schroder, Compass Literary. (Feb.)