A fabulous kingdom: the exploration of the Arctic

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Oxford University Press, 2001 - History - 222 pages
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Inconstant and forbidding, the arctic lured misguided voyagers into the cold for centuries--pushing them beyond the limits of their knowledge, technology, and stamina. A Fabulous Kingdom: Tales of the Arctic charts these quests and the eventual race for the North Pole in unprecedented detail, chronicling the lives and misconceptions that would eventually throw light on this "magical realm" of sunless winters.
Setting the scene with an explanation of the arctic region's geography, geology, and climate, the authors present the physical and ideological barriers that faced early sailors traveling into the uncharted arctic realm. They then follow the explorers and the evolution of the arctic mission, from the early journeys of Viking Ottar, who rounded the North Cape ca. 870, to northern European expeditions in search of a Northwest or Northeast passage to the riches of sixteenth century Asia. The progressive exploits and findings of Martin Frobisher, John Davis, Henry Hudson, and William Edward Parry fueled the public's fascination with this new world of ice. Yet with the ill-fated voyage of Sir John Franklin, nations abandoned their belief in the arctic as the way to wealth. Henceforth, it would be private funding and personal motives that would lead English, Scandinavian, and American men with a redefined purpose: to reach the North Pole.
With a fascinating account of nineteenth and twentieth century exploration and the longstanding myth of an open polar sea, the authors reconsider the achievements of the conventional arctic pioneers--Frederick Cook, Robert Peary, and Richard Bird. Moreover, they consider the consequences and rewards of human ambition and our perilous desire to conquer the unknown.

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A fabulous kingdom: the exploration of the Arctic

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The chances of most readers getting anywhere near the North Pole are slim to none. And even though this feat is accomplished on a regular basis by rich adventurers who fly to the top of the world and ... Read full review


Preface xi
Sea Lungs Godly Commerce and Projections
Frizadores for Cathayo and the Open Polar

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About the author (2001)

Charles Officer received his Ph.D from Columbia University and is a Research Professor in the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. He is the author of several books, including Tales of the Earth: Paroxysms and Perturbations of the Blue Planet (along with Jake Page, OUP).
Jake Page is a freelance science writer, essayist and novelist, who has written for Smithsonian, National Geographic, Reader's Digest, and many other magazines. He is the author of several books, including A Certain Malice.

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