Exclusive to Folio, this collection of first-hand accounts – compiled by one of the subject’s leading authorities – charts this epic quest through the testimony of the explorers themselves.
For over 300 years, the dream of a Northwest Passage through the Arctic archipelago was the holy grail of exploration. Countless adventurers vanished amidst its storm-blasted wastes. Those that returned brought harrowing tales of men and ships battling against hopeless odds; of icebergs that loomed like mountains, or pack ice that threatened to seize them in an inescapable grip; of unpredictable tides and strange fogs, mirages and tricks of the compass that bewildered navigators; of fleeting encounters with Inuit hunters – and of cold so fierce that, even in summer, sails and rigging froze solid. It was an impossible task. Yet, even in failure, the heroism and unrelenting fortitude of those who attempted it remains inspiring.
This compelling book by one of the leading authorities on the history of the Northwest Passage, Glyn Williams, charts the epic quest through the testimony of the explorers themselves. From its mercenary Tudor origins to the near-mystical Victorian struggle to tame the vast Arctic spaces, the story is peopled with many of the most famous names in the annals of discovery: Henry Hudson and his son cast adrift to perish by their mutinous comrades; Captain Cook painstakingly probing the bays and inlets of the Alaskan coastline; Samuel Hearne witnessing the massacre of an Inuit tribe by his Native American companions; the disappearance of John Franklin’s expedition in the most haunting cause célèbre of the 19th century; the final four-year conquest of the icy labyrinth by Roald Amundsen in the 70-foot Gjøa.
'The voices of the ice and the heavy swash of the overturned hummock-tables are at this moment dinning in my ears. "All hands" are on deck fighting our grim enemy ...'
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Review by wjcarter on 13th Jan 2015
"A very readable and interesting collection of essays about the intrepid and amazingly brave explorers who mapped the Canadian Arctic archipelago to discover the Northwest Passage. Their heroism and en..." [read more]