Driven by a passion for travel and history and a love of ships and the sea, former Monty Python stalwart and beloved television globe-trotter Michael Palin explores the world of HMS Erebus, last seen on an ill-fated voyage to chart the Northwest Passage.
Michael Palin brings the fascinating story of the Erebus and its occupants to life, from its construction as a bomb vessel in 1826 through the flagship years of James Clark Ross’s Antarctic expedition and finally to Sir John Franklin’s quest for the holy grail of navigation—a route through the Northwest Passage, where the ship disappeared into the depths of the sea for more than 150 years. It was rediscovered under the arctic waters in 2014.
Palin travels across the world—from Tasmania to the Falkland Islands and the Canadian Arctic—to offer a firsthand account of the terrain and conditions that would have confronted the Erebus and her doomed final crew. Delving into the research, he describes the intertwined careers of the two men who shared the ship’s journeys: Ross, the organizational genius who mapped much of the Antarctic coastline and oversaw some of the earliest scientific experiments to be conducted there; and Franklin, who, at the age of sixty and after a checkered career, commanded the ship on its last disastrous venture. Expertly researched and illustrated with maps, photographs, paintings, and engravings, Erebus is an evocative account of two journeys: one successful and forgotten, the other tragic yet unforgettable.
Palin's enthusiasm for seafaring tales and Victorian-era polar exploration enliven this history of the Erebus, a warship that disappeared in the most severe sailing conditions of the mid-19th century. Commissioned in 1826, the Erebus had a stout build ideal for braving polar ice, and she and her sister ship, Terror, were designated for this duty by the British admiralty in 1839. Palin's detailed, affectionate descriptions of the ships' construction, outfitting, and crewing reveal an almost boyish enthusiasm. His astute use of ship's journals and crewmen's letters gives vividness to the tale, and his amiable travel-show narrator's persona comes through in amusing asides and descriptions of great seamanship. He recounts the somewhat hastily organized polar expedition of 1845, led by the aging explorer Sir John Franklin, with appropriate foreboding of the looming disaster that caused both ships to go missing for over a century (it is believed they were trapped in the ice, and everyone on them died of disease or abandoned ship). He also offers a thoughtful, compelling description of the climate-change affected Arctic landscape today. The grim coda recounts abortive rescue attempts, fleeting clues to the explorers' fates, and the modern reverence for their doomed efforts and for the recently rediscovered wreckage. Though this is an oft-told story, Palin's version makes for cracking good reading.
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Too expensive. Would like to read this but no way i pay that much.