Race to the Polar Sea: The Heroic Adventures of Elisha Kent Kane

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9781582434407: Race to the Polar Sea: The Heroic Adventures of Elisha Kent Kane

In the mid-1800s, geographers revived the ancient idea that at the top of the world, encircling the North Pole, lay a temperate Open Polar Sea.” Without doubt, the voyager who discovered this balmy basin would etch his name forever in the annals of exploration. Among those drawn to the challenge was Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, a handsome, charismatic figure from a leading Philadelphia family who was already a well-known adventurer and explorer. In 1853, Kane sailed to the Arctic to seek both the Open Polar Sea and the lost British explorer John Franklin. After sailing farther north than anyone yet, Kane and his men became trapped in the ice. Besides treacherous icebergs and violent currents, Kane battled starvation, disease, and a near mutiny before abandoning ship to lead a desperate escape in sleds and small boats. Race to the Polar Sea tells this story in heart-pounding detail. Drawing on documents never before seen, author Ken McGoogan brings to life a heroic figure famous in his day as America’s greatest explorer and celebrates a shining example of American courage and survival.

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About the Author:

KEN McGOOGAN’s quartet of books about Arctic history— Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge and Race to the Polar Sea—have made him one of the most acclaimed popular historians in Canada and a national bestselling author. Visit his website at www.kenmcgoogan.com.

From School Library Journal:

Starred Review. McGoogan (Fatal Passage) frames this exciting biography in terms of the mythological concepts of the hero and the transformative quest. Trained as a physician, Elisha Kent Kane served in the U.S. Navy in locales around the globe, describing the geography, cultures, and his experiences in his journals, which were later published. Kane is most famous for his participation in two Arctic expeditions, 1850–51 and 1853–55, launched to find and rescue Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin's expedition of 1845 that had disappeared while searching for the Northwest Passage. Selected to lead the second rescue expedition, Kane was also challenged to locate the Open Polar Sea, a geographic concept since debunked. McGoogan discovered three previously lost journals Kane wrote during the two Arctic expeditions. These journals fill in many previously missing details and help answer criticisms regarding Kane's decisions that led to two men's deaths. Forced to turn back on both expeditions, Kane and the rest of his men survived an 800-mile trek south to Greenland. Although the nation mourned when Kane died of ill health not long after, he has languished in relative obscurity since. McGoogan's readable biography ensures Kane's place in the pantheon of polar explorers. Highly recommended.—Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN
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