Fisher, David E.
Arctic regions -- Discovery and exploration. North Pole. Arctique -- DÈcouverte et exploration.
col. ill., maps ; 25 cm. Maps on lining papers. Includes bibliographical references (p. 249-250). David E. Fisher. Book
LC: G620; Dewey: 919.804; NLC: G620
ISBN: 067941116X :; 9780679411161; National Library: 970183216 LCCN: 92-53641
Review copy - uncorrected proof
In the summer of 1991 the Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker Sovetskiy Soyuz sailed on the world's first surface voyage across the Arctic Sea to the North Pole, carrying an international roster of one hundred people in luxury to the "vacant whiteness" that had lured hundreds of explorers to their deaths. Novelist and scientist David E. Fisher chronicles the voyage, interspersing his account with the stories of those adventurers who preceded it. He writes about Dr. Frederick Cook, the charming rogue, and Admiral Robert Peary, the gruff monomaniac, who raced each other to the Pole in 1908 and spent the rest of their lives arguing over who had won the race - and tells why it is almost impossible to believe either of them; and about Admiral Byrd, who flew northward from Spitzbergen in 1926 and came back claiming to have reached the Pole - and why it is equally difficult to believe him. He describes other earlier voyages and their. Tragic consequences: that of Sir John Franklin, who disappeared in 1847 with more than a hundred men; George Nares, who barely brought back his ships full of scurvy-wracked invalids; August Solomon, who tried to float to the Pole in a balloon and died mysteriously on the ice; Frederick Nansen, who was rescued quite by accident; and the dirigible Italia, which crashed and sparked a worldwide search before some of its men were recovered - but not before some of them were. Eaten by their fellows. On its own journey the Soyuz tracked the earlier voyages and found the remains of the hut where Nansen spent a winter on a barren island; visited the last island seen by the doomed De Long expedition of 1879 before its members met their deaths in Siberia; and found the lost grave of Lt. Sedov'a, who disappeared in 1913. Passengers and crew also discovered that the islands described by those explorers as ice-bound are now relatively ice-free. Graphic evidence of global warming. The contrast between the hardships and privations of earlier explorers and the luxurious nuclear-powered cruise of 1991 offers eloquent testimony to how far we have come in the last few hundred years, while the warmer conditions encountered on the way to the North Pole give subtle warning of where we may be heading. Across the Top of the World is a splendid book for the armchair traveler - eloquent, erudite, funny, informative and. Bringing to life the remarkable band of heroes, liars, visionaries, braggarts and fools who attempted to sail, sled or trek across the Pole - and often died trying.