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True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole

  1. 5 out of 5

    Punk

    Non-Fiction. April 21, 1908, Frederick A. Cook reaches the North Pole. Less than a year later, Robert E. Peary makes the Pole on April 6, 1909. Cook, forced to winter over in the Arctic, announces his achievement to the press in September 1909. Peary makes his own announcement five days later. While Cook is initially met with disbelief, his claim gradually comes to be accepted (only to be questioned again later). Peary is believed immediately, but his story ends up under scrutiny as well. Neithe Non-Fiction. April 21, 1908, Frederick A. Cook reaches the North Pole. Less than a year later, Robert E. Peary makes the Pole on April 6, 1909. Cook, forced to winter over in the Arctic, announces his achievement to the press in September 1909. Peary makes his own announcement five days later. While Cook is initially met with disbelief, his claim gradually comes to be accepted (only to be questioned again later). Peary is believed immediately, but his story ends up under scrutiny as well. Neither have adequate proof of their accomplishment and both have holes in their accounts. So who was actually first to the Pole? Did they even get there at all? The world's been arguing about it ever since. This is written more like a novel than a history, with little authorial distance from the subject. The only place the author is really visible is in the afterword and the footnotes. Anything outside the narrative -- a different perspective, an event that would happen later, the truth -- is added as a footnote so it doesn't interrupt the story, and it creates a kind of falsity, making the information sound like an afterthought or a piece of trivia rather than a necessary part of history. For example, when Peary announces he found new land separated from the north coast of Greenland by a channel, his discovery is only disputed in a footnote. The channel that Peary named after himself didn't exist, and the land he thought he saw was just another bit of Greenland. That's the kind of thing I'd like to read in the main body of the text, not a footnote. The author does this over and over. Because of this reluctance to interrupt the narrative, the chronology can be a little confusing, especially with simultaneous events. Peary spent close to a decade in the Arctic, so after a while it gets hard to identify which expedition he was on and if it was a new one or just a year tacked on to a previous trip. It wasn't always clear what year it was, either. Henderson focuses solely on Cook and Peary, providing little historical context, so the reader doesn't have a great sense of where Cook and Peary fit into the larger search for the North Pole, but it's a pretty thorough look at these two men. Peary was a civil engineer in the US Navy, but spent more than half of his time there on paid leave in the Arctic, and I think it's fair to say he was a narcissistic, toeless asshole who knew a lot of important people and used those connections to promote his expeditions and, later in life, to make Cook's life hell. Cook was a physician who not only was interested in the North Pole, but was the first American to explore both polar regions, and the first person to circumnavigate and later climb Mount McKinley, though following the North Pole controversy, the latter claim would also be brought into doubt. Thanks to his treatment at the relentless hands of Peary, Cook becomes the Ultimate Woobie. Not that Henderson puts it that way, but it's clear he sympathizes with Cook as he goes out of his way to defend the doctor. The evidence he offers in support of Cook is slim but looks convincing as long as it's presented in a vacuum, which, as luck would have it, it is. In all, I think this is a balanced account of Peary's and Cook's work together and their rivalry -- almost entirely on Peary's side -- but don't let yourself be drawn in by the pro-Cook propaganda, as the book isn't so balanced when it comes to the doctor's accomplishments. Henderson will make you feel for Cook, after all, he is a more sympathetic character than Peary, but it's more than likely they're both liars, and the evidence meant to defend Cook can just as easily be used to damn him. I found one factual inaccuracy, and several times where Henderson omitted something that would have been relevant to the subject at hand, but the things he left out weren't biased one way or another, they would have made Cook and Peary look equally bad. There are two maps of Cook's and Peary's reported routes to the Pole, but it needed at least a third, larger map with more detail. It has source notes for all direct quotes, a bibliography, index, and several pages of black and white photographs. Two stars. It's a good book if you want to read a story about two driven men competing for the Pole, but it's not so great if you're looking for something a little more historically rigorous. I'm not saying Henderson's scholarship is in question, exactly, but the book feels like a novel and it took me a long time to take it seriously. Toward the end, though, I couldn't put it down.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kivrin

    So I went from the South Pole to the North Pole with this book which is a lot less detailed than "The Last Place on Earth" so it was a faster read. It was still suspenseful and continued the trend of revealing the truth behind the myths! So Adm Peary turns out to be pretty much a liar and a man interested only in his own version of any story. Cook is the victim of his own bad choices and bad luck. Based on this book alone, I'm pretty much convinced that Cook was the first to reach the North Pole So I went from the South Pole to the North Pole with this book which is a lot less detailed than "The Last Place on Earth" so it was a faster read. It was still suspenseful and continued the trend of revealing the truth behind the myths! So Adm Peary turns out to be pretty much a liar and a man interested only in his own version of any story. Cook is the victim of his own bad choices and bad luck. Based on this book alone, I'm pretty much convinced that Cook was the first to reach the North Pole and that Peary probably never made it there at all. The book gives some interesting information on the background of each explorer as well as the usual grueling details of their quests to reach the North Pole.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    Before I starting researching a few months ago, I had no clue that Robert Peary's claim on the North Pole was something of a debate, and after reading this account there's a pretty strong argument for Frederick Cook. Even if he may not have made it first (if indeed, either of them did), Cook at least deserves some recognition in exploration history for his sensitivity to the Inuit and interest in chronicling their culture, and Peary deserves a bit more skepticism in regards to his place of honor Before I starting researching a few months ago, I had no clue that Robert Peary's claim on the North Pole was something of a debate, and after reading this account there's a pretty strong argument for Frederick Cook. Even if he may not have made it first (if indeed, either of them did), Cook at least deserves some recognition in exploration history for his sensitivity to the Inuit and interest in chronicling their culture, and Peary deserves a bit more skepticism in regards to his place of honor. Definitely made me want to read more about either side.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    It took a little bit to get into this book, but once I did, I listened to it everyday on my way home from work as a way to let go of the thoughts of work. As the polar race progressed, the author's bias did show, but after listening to the whole book, I think some bias towards Cook was really deserved. What I learned from this book: Peary was a rat bas*&^d. I shouted this at the CD player more than a few times. He was a rat bas*(&& to his wife, to his obligations with the Navy, to the Eskimo peo It took a little bit to get into this book, but once I did, I listened to it everyday on my way home from work as a way to let go of the thoughts of work. As the polar race progressed, the author's bias did show, but after listening to the whole book, I think some bias towards Cook was really deserved. What I learned from this book: Peary was a rat bas*&^d. I shouted this at the CD player more than a few times. He was a rat bas*(&& to his wife, to his obligations with the Navy, to the Eskimo peoples, to anyone else who got in his way of fame in the Arctic, and especially to Cook and anyone associated with Cook. RAT B(*&*&^. Cook most likely found the North Pole first, but his proofs could not be found. Peary most likely missed the Pole. Polar exploration works much better if you go as a small expedition and work closely with the native peoples, who live there all the time. Eventually the truth will out, although it may take a long, long time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Artguy

    I am not very aware of the controversy surrounding who was the first to reach the North Pole. After reading this, I am on the side of Cook, a remarkable man who seemed to accomplish anything he set his mind to. Perry comes across as a megalomaniac, striving for glory while treading on anyone who gets in his way. Makes you realize that there is the truth, and there is the way the story is reported. In this case, it seems the truth stepped aside while Cook took the brunt of the story that Perry wa I am not very aware of the controversy surrounding who was the first to reach the North Pole. After reading this, I am on the side of Cook, a remarkable man who seemed to accomplish anything he set his mind to. Perry comes across as a megalomaniac, striving for glory while treading on anyone who gets in his way. Makes you realize that there is the truth, and there is the way the story is reported. In this case, it seems the truth stepped aside while Cook took the brunt of the story that Perry wanted to tell, which himself as the hero and Cook as the lying failure. I am now looking forward to reading more on this, seeing what the general accepted story today may be, and coming to a final conclusion once and for all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Franz

    This book was excellent! However, it left me with the opinion that Peary's "achievements" should be wiped from the historical record, and his wikipedia entry shortened simply to, "Colossal D-Bag." His unwillingness to transport the equipment, journals, and evidence of a fellow explorer (Cook) is, in a word, unforgivable. Anyone interested in exploration and/or the Arctic should consider reading this book. This book was excellent! However, it left me with the opinion that Peary's "achievements" should be wiped from the historical record, and his wikipedia entry shortened simply to, "Colossal D-Bag." His unwillingness to transport the equipment, journals, and evidence of a fellow explorer (Cook) is, in a word, unforgivable. Anyone interested in exploration and/or the Arctic should consider reading this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Frank Taranto

    A fascinating look at the race to the North Pole. Who got there first, Peary or Cook? The author doesn't say, but insuates that Cook got there first, and Peary probably didn't make it at all. The difficulty of Artic travel is well described, and the arrogance of the white man, especially Peary is shown throughout. These were brave men trying to do something no one had ever done before. A fascinating look at the race to the North Pole. Who got there first, Peary or Cook? The author doesn't say, but insuates that Cook got there first, and Peary probably didn't make it at all. The difficulty of Artic travel is well described, and the arrogance of the white man, especially Peary is shown throughout. These were brave men trying to do something no one had ever done before.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Riva

    A sad commentary on the politics of exploration but a good read. A good book that made me want to bash Peary on the head. Cook is a new hero of mine - a man of honor, adventure and integrity. I just might think of his journeys every time I stare at the north star.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Valorie

    True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole by Bruce Henderson places itself within the longstanding debate of who reached the North Pole first: Dr. Frederick A. Cook or Navy Officer Robert E. Peary. Both claimed to have reached it within one year of each other, Cook in April of 1908 and Peary in April of 1909. Historically, credit for the North Pole discovery has gone to Peary, and much criticism has been aimed at Cook for fabricating his story. Henderson addresses the possibility that Co True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race to the Pole by Bruce Henderson places itself within the longstanding debate of who reached the North Pole first: Dr. Frederick A. Cook or Navy Officer Robert E. Peary. Both claimed to have reached it within one year of each other, Cook in April of 1908 and Peary in April of 1909. Historically, credit for the North Pole discovery has gone to Peary, and much criticism has been aimed at Cook for fabricating his story. Henderson addresses the possibility that Cook may have reached the Pole first and has thus been cheated of his acclamation. A reexamination of evidence, Henderson hopes, will shed more light on the controversy because recent history has charged that Peary lied about the distances he travelled while Cook has gained merit due to his accurate descriptions of the northern regions verified by later explorers. Henderson begins True North when the two are just children, setting up a foundation to help readers understand the two men and what may have motivated their drive to reach the pole. It is not until the middle of the book, in fact, that the race to the North Pole becomes the focus. Cook and Peary initially worked together to cross and map the Greenland ice cap. Due to conflict during the expedition, Cook decided not to work with Peary again when called upon to do so, instead choosing to lead Greenland expeditions of his own. Peary returned to Greenland to collect iron meteorites sacred to the native people while Cook returned to take up tourist groups of hunters and explorers. Beginning in 1898, Peary made a few failed attempts to reach the North Pole and Cook ventured to the South Pole (1897-1899) and to the summit of Mt. McKinley (1906). During the years in Greenland he spent to achieve his goal, Henderson describes in detail how Peary abused the native people of Greenland, cheated on his wife, and grew increasingly obsessed with fame. Contrasted against this was Cooks modest desire to explore and record. It was not until 1907 that Cook secretly decided to try to reach the North Pole, setting out with two natives and one white man in early 1908, covering the 500 miles in just two months. During the return trip, the Cook explorers got trapped over winter and did not return until 1909. Over the course of this delay, Peary reached the North Pole and claimed the discovery for himself, though he had yet to announce it by the time Cook returned from his expedition. Before Peary was even back from his mission, Cook sent off his own story to a newspaper and proclaimed to the world that he had discovered the North Pole. After Peary declared that he had discovered the North Pole first, it had to be decided who had really done it first, if at all. Back at home, the controversy began when Cook, challenged to produce his data, could not because Peary refused to bring it home on his ship. Embroiled in a smear campaign against his honor, Cook was soon denied notoriety and credit for the discovery of the North Pole, which was given to Peary despite his own questionable data. Though Henderson never explicitly states who he believes discovered the pole and does not take sides throughout the book, it is clear that he believes the honor of the discovery should go to Cook, since it appears from record that he got the closest to the pole. Evident in his depictions of Cook versus Peary, Henderson’s motive is to prove that Cook was indeed cheated out of a victory that was rightfully his. Through Henderson’s descriptions, Peary is shown to be an egotistical and hard-handed man concerned only with fame, with a boisterous attitude and little respect for other people. In opposition, Cook is portrayed as being very humble and quiet, an inventive man who is content to share victory. When the events of the contested pole discovery come about, Henderson details how Cook was thwarted his due by Peary’s sabotage, and raises suspicion for Peary’s claim by pointing out that Peary would not hand over his own notes for inspection before Cook released a statement, insinuating that Peary was getting information from Cook to use in his own dubious notes. As told by Henderson, Cook’s evidence, though he produced no notes as proof and with only a diary and the statements of him and his Eskimo companions to back him up, is still more credible than Peary and the incomplete notes he supplies. It is even insinuated that Peary was responsible for Cook later going to prison for mail fraud because the judge trying the case was a friend of the family. Henderson finishes up his assessment by listing all of the ways in which Cook was right or credible in both his pole and Mt McKinley claims. So, despite Henderson never explicitly stating to support Cook, it comes through in his presentation of facts and their evident bias. Whether or not the facts are true as stated, Henderson clearly wants us to see things a certain way. Henderson’s source usage raises concerns over his presentation of facts and how they support his central purpose. True North is rich in detail and follows the separate and intertwining paths of Cook and Peary closely, even to minute detail. Yet the background provided, including an array of personal stories and emotions too intimate to be part of common knowledge, is given no footnoted documentation, which calls into question the validity of the information, its truthfulness, and whether or not Henderson is being true to the facts and portraying them accurately. A reader would have a difficult time verifying many of the things said and claimed to have happened by Henderson. Henderson does provide a selection of source notes at the end of the book, which serve the purpose of explaining where some of the specific personal statements come from. These are actually very informative and valuable to the credibility of the story because they are all primary sources, sources that come direct from people involved or in the time- they are the words of Cook, of Peary, of people witness to the events in question. There is included a bibliography at the back, but without the aid of footnotes, one cannot tell if the books listed at the end are indeed used and where. True North is a very well written and engaging book, not at all difficult to read and follow. Bruce Henderson is a writer by career with over 20 nonfiction books in his catalog, and he instructs writing classes at Stanford University. Though very skilled at writing, capable of writing a book that is as informative as it is entertaining, it is important to keep in mind that Henderson is not a trained historian and therefore may have approached his subjects with an eye for writing a good story rather than telling balanced fact based history, which would explain his treatment of sources and clear bias. Even with Henderson’s notable favoritism, however, the book does present a complete story and sequence of events for both camps. Additionally, the book is full of information about ice travel, geography, and Eskimo culture. For anyone interested in the lives of Cook and Peary, in Arctic travel, or in exploration in general, True North would be well worth the read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sugarpuss O'Shea

    Well, this is my 7th book on the North Pole and my opinion is still the same: Peary is a major league SOB & Cook is a likable, sympathetic guy. What I still don't know is if either one of them actually made it to the Pole. I still don't believe Peary did. There is NO WAY Peary covered the mileage he said he did once Captain Bartlett turned back. No. Bleeping. Way. But what about Cook? After reading as much as I have about this subject, I understand the desire to 'rehabilitate' Dr Cook. Lord knows Well, this is my 7th book on the North Pole and my opinion is still the same: Peary is a major league SOB & Cook is a likable, sympathetic guy. What I still don't know is if either one of them actually made it to the Pole. I still don't believe Peary did. There is NO WAY Peary covered the mileage he said he did once Captain Bartlett turned back. No. Bleeping. Way. But what about Cook? After reading as much as I have about this subject, I understand the desire to 'rehabilitate' Dr Cook. Lord knows he was unmercifully harassed by Peary & his crew of men in high places--and Mr Henderson does a good job of telling a balanced story here--but what I really want to know is..... Did Cook actually make it to the Pole? I want to believe he did, but who knows. One thing I can say..... If Cook didn't have to overwinter in the Arctic and was able to get back to civilization in 1908, I think things would've taken a much different turn. Cook would've had an entire year to get his story out. Instead, Cook had 5 short days before Peary claimed the same feat. Cook didn't stand a chance going toe-to-toe with a unscrupulous rogue such as Peary. And keep this in mind..... When Amundsen claimed to have been first to the South Pole, no one believed him either. It wasn't until Scott's diary was discovered, confirming Amundsen was there first, that people finally came around. And since the North Pole isn't a static, set point, what was the North Pole on Monday, isn't the same point on Tuesday. I don't think I'll ever get the answers I'm looking for, but one thing is clear.... These 2 men didn't have GPS, Gortex, Doppler Radar or any of the other state-of-the-art things we take for granted today. They had no idea what the weather would be like, and they did all their navigational calculations by hand. On top of all that, they walked the whole way! (Well Cook did at least.) You've got to tip your hat to both of them. Controversy & personalities aside, what they did was truly remarkable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick Virgil

    I work in Denali where we mention Cook and his fake peak. After reading this I have a better understanding of these two men and what legacy they left behind.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Put this rating well on the plus side of 3 stars. As a fan of polar exploration books I found "True North" a clear step below, say, Roland Huntford's work but still quite good. Bruce Henderson examines the race for the North Pole between Robert Peary and Frederick Cook. Henderson clearly thinks Cook was wronged when Peary was ultimately credited with "discovering" the North Pole; not a new argument, and the evidence is pretty overwhelming that, at worst, Cook deserved the balance tipped in his f Put this rating well on the plus side of 3 stars. As a fan of polar exploration books I found "True North" a clear step below, say, Roland Huntford's work but still quite good. Bruce Henderson examines the race for the North Pole between Robert Peary and Frederick Cook. Henderson clearly thinks Cook was wronged when Peary was ultimately credited with "discovering" the North Pole; not a new argument, and the evidence is pretty overwhelming that, at worst, Cook deserved the balance tipped in his favor. Henderson generally brings us a readable, exciting, well-written chronicle of the race for the pole, but it seems there's a lot missing here. For starters, the actual dual expeditions that led to the discovery of the pole (or did they?) only take up the last third of the book. Henderson should have provided more detail. And that's not my only such gripe. Early on, when Cook and Peary first explored Greenland together, Peary's drive into the wasteland -- certainly the point of the whole endeavor -- is summed up in a couple paragraphs, while Cook and his interactions back at base with Eskimos is given detailed treatment. Odd. Actually, the relationships with native peoples is one of the highlights of the book. Henderson brilliantly details the life of these people so vital in the chase for the pole. Henderson occasionally isn't very specific about just what the various expeditions were setting out to accomplish, and I found some of his descriptions less clear than Huntford's. Ultimately, Henderson's masterful treatment of the actual race for the pole, though only about 100 pages, valiantly saves the day. It's well-written, makes its case well, and is quite moving. Henderson is unsparing in presenting Peary's faults, and clearly presents a chronology of what some would consider outright treachery.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    An enjoyable read. As a listen, not bad, although Mr. Henderson should perhaps not read his own books. He's not bad, but a bit lifeless. As for the book, it's a nice slice of an age when explorers were "rock stars." The book is definitely sympathetic to Frederick Cook, as the author paints a portrait of Robert Peary as a vain, pompous, glory-seeker, who cynically used everyone around him to further his ambition to reach the pole. The book doesn't quite posit that either explorer actually reached An enjoyable read. As a listen, not bad, although Mr. Henderson should perhaps not read his own books. He's not bad, but a bit lifeless. As for the book, it's a nice slice of an age when explorers were "rock stars." The book is definitely sympathetic to Frederick Cook, as the author paints a portrait of Robert Peary as a vain, pompous, glory-seeker, who cynically used everyone around him to further his ambition to reach the pole. The book doesn't quite posit that either explorer actually reached the pole although the author gives a bit more credence to Cook than the historical record actually agrees. Cook gets points for his application of scientific principles to a number of solutions to problems posed by polar exploration of the time. He also is credited with decent treatment of the native peoples of Greenland, who were crucial to North Pole exploration. All in all, a good quick read, and a wonderful look at a time long past but not a comprehensive scholarly history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica López-Barkl

    I read this book for the preparation for the musical based on the novel RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow. I thought it was a very fun book to read and learned lots of crazy things, in regards to famous people that became famous because Hearst/Pulitzer and the yellow papers... I (also) am fascinated by the fact that Cook probably found it first, but the proof is buried somewhere in Greenland. I was so taken by the book that I've checked out some others on the subject (and...the bonus is that it still app I read this book for the preparation for the musical based on the novel RAGTIME by E.L. Doctorow. I thought it was a very fun book to read and learned lots of crazy things, in regards to famous people that became famous because Hearst/Pulitzer and the yellow papers... I (also) am fascinated by the fact that Cook probably found it first, but the proof is buried somewhere in Greenland. I was so taken by the book that I've checked out some others on the subject (and...the bonus is that it still applies to the prep I'm doing), especially in regards to Matthew Henson, the African-American that "discovered" the North Pole alongside Peary. I love reading about people that are the unsung heroes of American History, and he has his own autobiography that I will read soon, time permitting, of course.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I really enjoyed this because I love all of the adventuring details. There are some comparisons that could be made that the Peary v Cook debate is quite similar to our current political landscape. I am not going to bore anyone with that line of thinking in this review but will instead say that if you were to read the book (which is firmly in the Cook/evidence camp), it would not surprise you in the least to know that I am a Democrat... I mean, pro-Cook's claim of reaching the North Pole or summi I really enjoyed this because I love all of the adventuring details. There are some comparisons that could be made that the Peary v Cook debate is quite similar to our current political landscape. I am not going to bore anyone with that line of thinking in this review but will instead say that if you were to read the book (which is firmly in the Cook/evidence camp), it would not surprise you in the least to know that I am a Democrat... I mean, pro-Cook's claim of reaching the North Pole or summitting Mount McKinley or being an awesome explorer. The speed with which I read this can be only somewhat attributed to the interesting, well researched materials and mostly to a touch of insomnia.

  16. 4 out of 5

    RH Walters

    A devastating account of the race to the North Pole, a place that once inspired so much mystery and romance. Henderson cleanly and meticulously presents the case that Cook was much more likely the first man to attain the pole, and had greater merits as an explorer and scientist. Peary acts abominably on so many occasions, including his relentless efforts to discredit and destroy Cook, that his ultimate victory is sickening. Henderson indicates the fineness of Cook's character by quoting the dedi A devastating account of the race to the North Pole, a place that once inspired so much mystery and romance. Henderson cleanly and meticulously presents the case that Cook was much more likely the first man to attain the pole, and had greater merits as an explorer and scientist. Peary acts abominably on so many occasions, including his relentless efforts to discredit and destroy Cook, that his ultimate victory is sickening. Henderson indicates the fineness of Cook's character by quoting the dedication of his book: To the Indian who invented pemmican and snowshoes; To the Eskimo who gave the art of sled traveling; To this twin family of wild folk who have no flag Goes the first credit.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shibashis

    The narrative style is not the very best to begin with, it will seem more like a factual report occasionally disturbed by some literary devices, but as you go through the pages the pace picks up. And the chaste and benign prose gives way to actual adventure, struggle and appreciation of human resolution. Wonderful read till the end. There is little rhetoric but you will still feel the pull of the wild north and wide white horizon. A good read for any one who loves the unknown, falls short of a g The narrative style is not the very best to begin with, it will seem more like a factual report occasionally disturbed by some literary devices, but as you go through the pages the pace picks up. And the chaste and benign prose gives way to actual adventure, struggle and appreciation of human resolution. Wonderful read till the end. There is little rhetoric but you will still feel the pull of the wild north and wide white horizon. A good read for any one who loves the unknown, falls short of a great read but still worth my time most definitely.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark Penzkover

    Decidedly one-sided (in favor of Cook), but a good account of the historical arctic exploration efforts. Based on the book, Peary was not someone to admire. Like Tesla, it appears that some history and recognition need to be revised as it applies to Cook. I never like to form an opinion based on one source (this book was pro-Cook). If anyone has suggestions on a differently slanted book on actic explorers, please let me know.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Manuksharma

    A great adventure story that is well told. This is the stuff of legends. The tragedies that Peary’s accomplishments become has to break your heart. My only problem with the book is that is relegates Cook to almost a buffoon like statue, while making Peary into a demigod. Having researched the subject after being enthralled by the book, I discovered that it was not as obvious as the book had made it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linda Harkins

    Which American, a civil engineer in the U.S. Navy with friends in high places or a self-effacing medical doctor and loner, actually was the first to set foot on the North Pole? Robert Peary, a civil engineer, and Frederick Cook, a physician, made rival claims in 1909 to having arrived at the North Pole. Author Bruce Henderson's gripping account of both explorers' experiences generates as many questions as it answers. Which American, a civil engineer in the U.S. Navy with friends in high places or a self-effacing medical doctor and loner, actually was the first to set foot on the North Pole? Robert Peary, a civil engineer, and Frederick Cook, a physician, made rival claims in 1909 to having arrived at the North Pole. Author Bruce Henderson's gripping account of both explorers' experiences generates as many questions as it answers.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Doug Cornelius

    I learned that Peary had discovered the North Pole. Turns out that may not be true. Bruce Hendeson tells the story of Cook and Peary both trying to be the first to reach the North Pole. Both men had worked together on an earlier norther expedition. Cook had parted ways and explored Alaska. Then took a shot at reaching the North Pole. At the same time Peary was organizing another attempt at the unexplored top of the world.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    I finished this book feeling angry at Peary world and the injustices it caused. It made me want to learn more about Cook, and so far my cursory searches have turned up a lot of pro-Peary, Cook-was-a-liar-and-a-polar-noob information. I'm thankful for Henderson's seemingly heretic account; can't wait to find more books with this perspective. I finished this book feeling angry at Peary world and the injustices it caused. It made me want to learn more about Cook, and so far my cursory searches have turned up a lot of pro-Peary, Cook-was-a-liar-and-a-polar-noob information. I'm thankful for Henderson's seemingly heretic account; can't wait to find more books with this perspective.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    This was the perfect book to read after Wayne Johnson's novel "Navigator of New York". Both books describe Peary's and Cook's attempts to be the first person to reach the North Pole. Johnson's novel is a great introduction. Henderson's non-fiction account is a fascinating followup. I came away with great admiration and sadness for Dr. Cook. This was the perfect book to read after Wayne Johnson's novel "Navigator of New York". Both books describe Peary's and Cook's attempts to be the first person to reach the North Pole. Johnson's novel is a great introduction. Henderson's non-fiction account is a fascinating followup. I came away with great admiration and sadness for Dr. Cook.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    Very informative on the race to the north pole and the history around that. Also revealed what an utterly reprehensible character Peary was and how he and a coterie of rich friends conspired to deny Dr. Cook his rightful place in history and even deny him his other accomplishment of being the first to summit Mt. McKinley (Denali). But overall, a great read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    I didn't know much about the Cook/Peary controversy and this book is a good introduction. However, it is clearly pro-Cook so by the end I was ready to anoint Cook to sainthood and go to Arlington Cemetery to spit on Peary's grave. Further research reveals that things aren't so black and white. I didn't know much about the Cook/Peary controversy and this book is a good introduction. However, it is clearly pro-Cook so by the end I was ready to anoint Cook to sainthood and go to Arlington Cemetery to spit on Peary's grave. Further research reveals that things aren't so black and white.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    Had no clue about the backgrounds of these explorers and onlyl vaguely knew about the rivalry. Was fascinated that Cook also was a pioneer in climbing Mt.McKinley too; that personality as much as skill played such a role in their competing expeditions. Well written and worth reading!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dean Parry

    Very satisfying read This story of the conquest of the North Pole by Cook and Peary held my interest to the end. It's an all too common tale of human conquest and jealousy. A well-told story. Very satisfying read This story of the conquest of the North Pole by Cook and Peary held my interest to the end. It's an all too common tale of human conquest and jealousy. A well-told story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Great adventure read. One of my favorites for the year.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Loved this book. Great story, well told. I just wish it had more maps.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    Nonfiction that reads like a novel. Learned a great deal about Peary and Cook. Truly a great read and is among the best adventure works that I have ever read whether fiction or nonfiction.

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