"Nail-biting true adventure."--Kirkus Reviews
In 1909, two men laid rival claims to this crown jewel of exploration. A century later, the battle rages still. This book is about one of the most enduring and vitriolic feuds in the history of exploration. "What a consummate cur he is," said Robert Peary of Frederick Cook in 1911. Cook responded, "Peary has stooped to every crime from rape to murder." They had started out as friends and shipmates, with Cook, a doctor, accompanying Peary, a civil engineer, on an expedition to northern Greenland in 1891. Peary's leg was shattered in an accident, and without Cook's care he might never have walked again. But by the summer of 1909, all the goodwill was gone. Peary said he had reached the Pole in September 1909; Cook scooped him, presenting evidence that he had gotten there in 1908. Bruce Henderson makes a wonderful narrative out of the claims and counterclaims, and he introduces fascinating scientific and psychological evidence to put the appalling details of polar travel in a new context.
On April 21, 1908, American explorer Frederick Cook reached the North Pole. A year later, fellow Arctic pioneer Robert Peary denounced him, claiming to have reached the Pole first. In this first-rate tale of adventure, bravery and perfidy, Henderson (And the Sea Will Tell) attempts to identify the winner. In 1891, Cook, recovering from the deaths of both his wife and child and seeking adventure, was hired by Peary as chief medical officer on an expedition to Greenland. The men clashed, setting the stage for later conflict (and providing excellent fodder for this exciting book). Hooked on extreme cold weather quests, Cook journeyed to the Antarctic and was also the first to summit Mount McKinley. In Henderson's telling, Peary too craved adventure, but his insatiable desire for fame was his driving force. "Remember, mother, I must have fame," Henderson quotes Peary saying in a letter to his mother. When Peary learned Cook had reached the Pole before him, Peary painted Cook as a liar and a fraud. According to Henderson, Cook reacted to the barrage by going into seclusion, and when he emerged, it was too late to save his reputation. Peary's claim to the Pole was later dismissed, but Cook's achievement was never recognized. This adventure yarn delivers as both a cautionary tale and a fitting memorial to polar exploration. Illus.