Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole

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Grove Press, 2001 - History - 470 pages
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In the nineteenth century, the North Pole was a tantalizing mystery. Was it a continent of alien beings? Was it a portal into unknown inner worlds? Was it an open sea or a wilderness of ice? When Sir John Franklin went missing in 1845 explorers welcomed the opportunity to find out. Over the next one hundred years Britain, the United States, Russia, Germany, and dozens of other countries raced to be first at the top of the globe.
Picking up where his widely acclaimed Barrow's Boys left off, Fergus Fleming's Ninety Degrees North is a high-octane, swash-buckling history of the "ice-clumped lunatics" who vied to conquer ultimate north. Intrepid, obsessive, sometimes just plain insane, they endured scurvy, months-long ice traps, unspeakable deprivation, polar bear attacks, and sunless -100 degrees F winters that often led to mutiny and madness. Their methods - ships, sledges, skis, hot-air balloons, planes, and zeppelins - were as varied as their theories were fantastical. Some of them returned as national heroes; others, such as the impostor Frederick Cook, returned to be denounced as charlatans; still others, such as the mysteriously poisoned Francis Hall, never returned at all. Fleming's larger-than-life cast of characters includes the playboy and media mogul James Gordon Bennett, who orchestrated expeditions solely to sell newspapers; and of course, the most controversial figure in Arctic exploration, Robert Peary, who perservered in his quest for fame despite having lost eight toes to frostbite. Was Peary the first to reach the Pole in 1909, as he liked to claim? Or was it almost forty years later when a Soviet team, shrouded in Cold War secrecy, became the first to set foot there?

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Ninety degrees North: the quest for the North Pole

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It was once believed that the North Pole was surrounded by an open polar sea. Some of the attempts to prove this theory and to reach the pole itself once the theory was abandoned are the subject of ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

FERGUS FLEMING was born in 1959 and studied at Oxford University and City University. He was a writer and editor at Time-Life Books for six years before becoming a freelance writer in 1991. His previous books are "Barrow's Boys, Ninety Degrees North, and "Killing Dragons.

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