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07 February, 2009
Book Review: Near Death in the Arctic: True Stories of Disaster and Survival Edited by Cecil Kuhne
Read and reviewed for Armchair Interviews
The Arctic. The very name pulls images of snowy landscapes, harsh weather, and intense travel conditions out of our imagination. Many men and women have raced against the elements to reach the North and South poles.
Near Death in the Arctic is a collection of writings concerning these journeys. Editor Cecil Kuhne has collected previous published writings by explorers such as Captain Roald Fram, Richard E. Byrd, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, David Lewis, and Robert Falcon Scott, as well as second hand writings of expeditions. This collection showcases both first hand experiences in exploring the North Pole, the race to reach the South Pole first, and exploration of the largely unknown continent of Antarctica.
Near Death in the Arctic, transports readers to a time where the world was not fully known, and exploration an important thing. We can learn more about the struggles these explorers faced from the weather, from lack of supplies, and unexpected situations such as their ships being frozen into the pack ice.
Reading this book during the recent extreme cold weather here in the Midwest gave me an appreciation for what these explorers went through. They braved the unknown to bring the world an idea of what was out there. They went to advance our knowledge of the geography of these harsh areas of the world. They went to advance scientific knowledge of the Arctic regions. They went for the glory of exploring. I really enjoyed reading this book because it expanded my knowledge of the explorers who looked for a Northwest Passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. I had been aware of Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton’s trips to the Antarctic, but I had not known that Scott was the second team to the South Pole.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about the exploration of the planet’s North and South Poles from the turn of the twentieth century onwards.