Book: Finding The North Pole

Originally penned nearly a century ago, Finding the North Pole is a collection of accounts of North Pole expeditions, including Frederick A. Cook's own report of reaching the pole on April 21, 1908 and Robert E. Peary's story of his similar feat on April 6, 1909. These stories, edited by Charles Morris are utterly captivating, but you may find the accounts of the earlier expeditions even more gripping. Veteran polar explorer George Melville wrote most of the accounts, and his vivid imagery is due almost as much credit for the book's suspense as the events themselves.

Some of these expeditions set new records for going the farthest north, and some utterly failed, leaving their crews to survive (or not) in some of the most incredible circumstances imaginable. A North Pole expedition is a formidable challenge now, but imagine what these crews faced at the turn of the century, without GPS, without modern communications devices, and without modern equipment or provisions. Absorbing descriptions of day-to-day stresses like scurvy, starvation, ice-battered ships, hypothermia, and months of darkness are trumped by reports of how some men had to decide whether to abandon an ice-locked ship or wait another winter for an uncertain thaw; how some had to float hundreds of miles in a kayak or on an iceberg hoping for rescue; and how most had to haul thousands of pounds of provisions over jagged ice hoping none would fall through—all for the sake of knowledge. Finding the North Pole is disquieting the way only a good book can be; it's a whopper of true adventure, courage, and suspense and will completely suck you in.