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Ninety Degrees North


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'Barrow's Boys, Fergus Fleming's history of British exploration in the first half of the nineteenth century was an excellent book. Ninety Degrees North ... is an even better one' Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Fergus Fleming is a freelance writer living in London and Gloucestershire.


Whether it was believed to be surrounded by a vast, temperate sea that would facilitate speedy trade between the West and the Orient or, by one fanciful account, the gateway to a subterranean universe of wonder, there is no doubt that the North Pole exercised a powerful pull on the 19th-century imagination. Fleming (Barrow's Boys; Killing Dragons), whose first book outlined the ambitious program of British exploration set in motion by John Barrow, begins this exceptional account roughly where that one left off, recounting the major expeditions sent in search of the top of the world from 1845 to 1969. The book is fascinating for how Fleming renders the haughty, post-Enlightenment brio of the principal adventurers and the extreme, often fatal ends toward which it pushed them. Fleming beautifully weaves together intriguing journal excerpts and exhaustive expedition details to form an unforgettable impression of both the characters involved and the hardships they faced. And the hardships here are gruesome. Scarcely one of the many glory seekers from Britain, the U.S., Germany, Russia, Italy and elsewhere return from their quests wholly intact, either physically or mentally. They ate their dogs, they ate moss and, sometimes, they ate each other, but even when it became clear that nothing but a wasteland awaited them at the pole, they pressed on. Stoires like this make for a captivating look at the best and worst possibilities of the human spirit, told by an author who has established himself as one of the best adventure writers today. (Oct.)

'Barrow's Boys, Fergus Fleming's history of British exploration in the first half of the 19th century was an excellent book. Ninety Degrees an even better one' Sunday Telegraph 'This is the sort of book you want to read in front of a blazing fire. It is immensely enjoyable' Daily Telegraph 'Fleming gives us a wonderful story, and tells it exceptionally well' Guardian 'Fleming's is among the best of the [ice] books.... All the great stories are here!' Robert Macfarlane, The Observer 'Travel history at its brilliant best. Best-selling author Fergus Fleming has produced a masterly tale of the race to reach the northern most point of the globe' Irish Independent 'A vividly frostbitten account. The reading, in a warm room, is great fun' The Independent

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 this book. Fleming, author of the critically acclaimed Barrow's Boys, provides an entertaining history of the many failed attempts to reach the North Pole, from the hardship of the Kane expedition of 1853 through the Amundsen-Ellsworth North Pole sighting via airship in 1926. Though not all polar attempts in this time period are covered, many of the major attempts are recounted and analyzed, providing a story that is both awe-inspiring and humorous. Drawing on research from published and unpublished accounts, Fleming tells the stories of the failed land/sea attempts by such polar adventurers as Edward Nares, Fridtjof Nanson, Charles Francis Hall, August Petermann, and George Washington de Long, as well as the fatal attempt by Sweden's Salomon August Andre by balloon. The controversial topic of who first stood at 90-degrees North is not answered here; only through the investigation of Frederick Cook's and Robert Peary's expeditions does the reader learn that neither can conclusively claim this achievement. Suitable for both public and academic library collections. Sheila Kasperek, Mansfield Univ., PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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