The Noose of Laurels: Robert E. Peary and the Race to the North Pole

Wally Herbert, Author Atheneum Books $22.5 (395p) ISBN 978-0-689-12034-3
Who was first to reach the North Pole: Frederick Cook or Robert Peary? Or did neither? After 80 years of controversy, here is a plausible answer. A 1984 TV program, The Race to the Pole , which credited the discovery to Cook, so incensed Peary supporters that the National Geographic Society persuaded his family to release Peary's diary, astronomical observations and private notes for publication. Herbert, author of Across the Top of the World and a veteran polar explorer, was invited to assess these documents that had been closeted for 76 years. The material, dating back to Peary's youth, sheds new light on his character and on his obsession with fame. Herbert, who re-traced both the Cook and the Peary routes, here provides an intensive examination of each man's claim to the Pole. He demolishes Cook's claim, then questions Peary's navigation and log-keeping: there were no observations of longitude, and Peary may have been in error on both drift and magnetic variation. Herbert's verdict is that Peary did not reach the North Pole. This is a valuable addition to Arctic history, and a gripping adventure story. Illustrations. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 978-0-385-41355-8
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