Arctic Explorations

by Elisha Kent Kane | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 7/15/2018
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, July 15, 2018
I found this handsome little hardcover in this Little Free Library at the Adult Learning Center while dropping off some books of my own. It's the 1996 Lakeside edition re-issue of Kane's description of the second Grinnell expedition in search of Sir John Franklin (whose ships Erebus and Terror were lost in the late 1840s and only rediscovered within the last couple of years!).

There's a preface by the publishers, describing the process of editing this new edition, and an extensive historical overview of Kane's life and of the perils of Arctic exploration at the time. This all leads in to Kane's own words, which form a readable and detailed look at the expedition, along with illustrations (mostly based on sketches by Kane himself, some of which are iconic images now). From details on the selection and preparation of food to the battles with hordes of shipboard rats (including an attempt to poison-gas them which very nearly cost the lives of several crew members), to the finer points of learning to use a dog-whip, to the stunning beauty of the Arctic night skies, it's an impressive account.

Kane goes on to detail the increasingly horrifying condition of the crew as their dwindling supplies lead to scurvy, injuries, starvation, and some deaths, with rescue coming just in time...

There are a good many interactions with the native peoples throughout the account, sometimes quite positive - Kane learned to appreciate their knowledge of their environment. (Not that this prevented times of trial for the Inuit; there's an account of a very bad season for one village, with starvation becoming rife, and with Kane's people helping out by using their guns to hunt. It does not seem to have occurred to Kane that if the locals, with all their experience, could still run into serious deprivation, the odds of his own crew being able to subsist were...not great!)

There's a bit near the end of the account, just as rescue has reached Kane's surviving party, that emphasizes how out of touch they've been - they hear news of the siege of Sebastopol, a major event in the Crimean War, and basically reply with "Where's that?" (This reminded me of Shackleton's Endurance expedition, which went to Antarctica on the eve of WW1, and when they were rescued two years later were stunned to realize that not only was the war not over but it was now consuming lives at a staggering rate...)

Released 3 mos ago (7/21/2018 UTC) at Little Free Library, 205 Hartwell Ave. in Littleton, Massachusetts USA


I left this book in the re-purposed-icebox Little Free Library on this lovely day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.