Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship by Martin W. Sandler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I would recommend this book. It may seem like the last subject you'd want to read about: a bunch of 19th century Britons trying to find a way to the Pacific Ocean over the top of North America.
I'll be honest, if you had asked me if I knew what the North West Passage was before I read this book, I would have told you that is what Lewis and Clark were looking for.
OK, so some random thoughts:
• though the title is "Resolute" the book is far broader than about a boat that was lost and then found while looking for someone else that was lost.
• the whole Arctic expedition thing was about two things: Finding the Northwest Passage, and/or finding the North Pole. The one who found either first would bring both personal and national glory.
• the Royal navy was too proud to think about seeking counsel from those who might actually have experience in the Arctic. Namely the native Inuit people, who knew how to survive the year-round cold, and the whalers who knew how to navigate the ice flows and northern climates.
• The people who explored and were lost or died or even returned unsuccessful in their quest were seen as heroes. This whole Arctic thing was a pretty big deal in the mid 1800's and captivated public attention, even though these explorers would leave and vanish from public consciousness for years at a time.
I would recommend this book because this vast story is well-told. There are a lot of characters spanning the approximately 80 years of attempts to conquer the Arctic, but Martin W. Sandler organizes his book well with extended end notes (that stay out of the way of the drama of the story) and appendices that are quite interesting.
View all my reviews >>