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Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest…
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Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and… (utgåvan 2008)

av Martin W. Sandler

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
212498,569 (3.82)6
A riveting true adventure story.... An award-winning, bestselling author... A page-turner that’s impossible to put down.   Almost everyone knows the photo of John F. Kennedy, Jr., as a young boy, peering out from under his father’s desk in the Oval Office. But few realize that the desk itself plays a part in one of the world’s most extraordinary mysteries--a dramatic tale that has never before been told in its full scope. Acclaimed historian Martin Sandler--a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, winner of seven Emmy#65533; Awards, and author of more than 50 books--finally brings the entire story to light. This amazing high-seas adventure encompasses the search for the Northwest Passage in the early 1800s; a renowned explorer and his crew of 128 men who vanish during an 1845 expedition; 39 incredible, heroic attempted rescue missions; a ghost ship that drifts for more than 1,200 miles; a queen’s gratitude; and that famous desk. Fascinating rare photographs, paintings, engravings, and maps illustrate the book throughout. It all began when, in one of the biggest news stories of the 19th century, Sir John Franklin and his ships the Erebus and the Terror disappeared while attempting to locate the fabled Northwest Passage. At the request of Franklin’s wife, Lady Jane, the first mission set out from England in hopes of finding him; many others followed in its wake, none successful. Among these was the Resolute, the finest vessel in Queen Victoria’s Navy. But in 1854 it became locked in Arctic ice and was abandoned by its captain. A year later, a Connecticut whaler discovered it 1,200 miles away--drifting and deserted, a 600-ton ghost ship. He and his small crew boarded the Resolute, and steered it through a ferocious hurricane back to New London, Connecticut. The United States government then reoutfitted the ship and returned it to the thankful Queen. In 1879, when the Resolute was finally retired, she had the best timbers made into a desk for then-President Rutherford B. Hayes. It is still used by U.S. presidents today...one of the most celebrated pieces of furniture in the White House.… (mer)
Medlem:wanderweg
Titel:Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship
Författare:Martin W. Sandler
Info:Sterling (2008), Paperback, 320 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship av Martin W. Sandler

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Although it covers the entire 19th century history of Canadian Arctic exploration, given the title Resolute author Martin Sandler must start in medias res. Thus we start with the 1855 recovery of the abandoned HMS Resolute by the American whaler George Henry before covering the numerous searches for the Northwest Passage that came before and after.


At least, the initial explorers were searching for the Northwest Passage. Subsequent explorers were usually searching for earlier explorers. From the very first attempts in 1818 (there had been previous Artic explorers, of course, but a five vessel mission in that year was the first official Royal Navy expedition) the Royal Navy showed of mix of poor planning and muddling through. Advice from whalers and sealers who had frequented Arctic waters for years and the customs and technology of the Inuit, who had been living there for millennia was ignored and disregarded. The centerpiece of this was the 1845 mission of John Franklin, commanding the Erebus and Terror.


The ships, at least, were reasonably well chosen. They were mortar vessels (in fact, bot had contributed bombs bursting in air to the siege of Fort McHenry) and thus heavily built. There were five years’ worth of provisions on board, including newly-invented canned meat and vegetables. However, the commander might not have been the best choice. Although Franklin had been to the Arctic before he hadn’t had great success; his nickname was “the man who ate his boots” after an 1820 overland trek from Hudson Bay to the Arctic Ocean ended with 11 men dead. Franklin was portly, a Hudson Bay Company manager noted he “…has not the physical powers required for the labor of moderate Voyaging in this country; he must have three meals per diem, Tea is indispensable, and with the utmost exertion he cannot walk Eight miles in one day.” He was also cognizant of his rank; on the land expedition the sailors under his command were always required to build a shelter for him before fabricating their own.


However, he also had a young, beautiful and wealthy wife with considerable political influence. After her husband and his ships vanished, Lady Jane Franklin pulled all her strings to get rescue expeditions sent out, sometimes financing them herself, and giving each expedition commander letters to be delivered to her husband when he was found. That’s where the Resolute comes in; she was part of a five ship expedition – Resolute, Intrepid, Assistance, Pioneer, and North Star – under the command of Sir Edward Belcher sent to look for Franklin in 1852. Belcher turned out to be a poor choice; he was a petty martinet, hated by his officers and men; and he really didn’t want to be an Arctic explorer. His expedition was successfully to a certain extent; he didn’t find Franklin but he did find the survivors of one of the other Arctic exploring ships, the Investigator under Captain Robert M’Clure. M’Clure and his crew had been locked in the ice for two years when a sledging party from the Investigator heading east encountered a sledging party from the Resolute heading west. Upon getting everybody back together, Belcher decided he had accomplished enough; he abandoned four of his ships (over the vehement protests of the captains), sledged everybody overland to the ice-free North Star, and sailed for home.


When he got back to England, Captain M’Clure put in a claim for the discovery of the Northwest Passage. The trick was he and his crew had entered the Arctic Ocean from the Pacific, through the Bering Strait, and they’d left it through the Davis Strait to the Atlantic as passengers on the North Star. Admittedly, a good part of the trip had been done on foot hauling sledges, which isn’t exactly what the Royal Navy had in mind – but he received credit.


Thus it was that the abandoned Resolute eventually freed herself from the ice and sailed 1200 miles by herself to her encounter with the George Henry; Captain Buddington of the George Henry was hard pressed to get her to New London with half crews in both vessels, but he managed it. The Resolute was refitted at US expense and returned to Great Britain. When she was eventually broken up in 1880, a desk was made from her timbers and presented to the United States; it’s still in use in the White House.


In the meantime, the Hudson’s Bay Company had been sending out small expeditions on its own, with small parties based around whaleboats that could be rowed or sailed when the Arctic was ice-free and sledged when it wasn’t. One of these, under John Rae, came across a group of Inuit with artifacts that clearly belonged to the Franklin expedition. The Inuit reported that a group of white men had starved to death – after some cannibalized the others - on King William’s Island four years previously. As the winter was approaching, Rae didn’t have time to investigate the scene himself but recorded the Inuit story, took some of the artifacts as evidence, and returned to England. He report caused a sensation, because it included the term “cannibalism”; Lady Franklin was outraged, Charles Dickens wrote a letter to the editor denouncing Rae.


Unequivocal evidence of the fate of Franklin expedition was eventually found, though, and it did confirm Rae’s reports. This included graves, bones with cut marks, a whaleboat with two skeletons on board, and a cairn with a letter reporting Franklin’s death (Franklin himself was “buried at sea” – left in a grave on the ice near his ship). The whaleboat caused some consternation when it was discovered, as it was reportedly full of “useless” items such as cigars, crockery and books, and yet it had been hauled on a sledge by men near starvation. Twentieth century investigators speculated that the Franklin crew had lead poisoning from improperly canned food and were acting irrationally as a result.


Sandler has written extensively for television and it shows; a lot of his descriptions seem to come from film scripts. Nothing wrong with that. Given that the action takes place over almost 100 years, there’s an extensive cast of characters; Sandler ameliorates that by providing lists and capsule biographies at both the beginning and end of the book. There are no foot- or endnotes, but each chapter has an appendix section with sources and additional information (including, for example, the lyrics of an English ballad praising the US for returning the Resolute). The maps are good, but there could be more of them and there should be one overall map of the Canadian Arctic; it’s sometimes hard to see where the detail maps fit in. Illustrations are all period, and include engravings and photographs scattered through the text, and two color plate sections. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 17, 2017 |
There's just something about the British and their desire to explore the most inhospitable lands on Earth.
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
John Barrow, the Admiral of the British Navy, sent a number of expeditions to the Arctic to find the Northwest Passage. The most famous was one led by John Franklin. When his ship and crew came up missing, a number of rescue missions were sent with the loss of men and ships. Lady Jane Franklin then began funding search missions with no success, other than finding artifacts from the expedition. The book was a testament to the short-sightedness of the British, who at the time insisted that the men stay in uniform, even though the native populations dressed for the weather and knew how to hunt for game to survive the long dark winters. It was an OK book, but not as good as some of the other Polar stories I have read. ( )
  dickcraig | Jan 2, 2010 |
I just finished this book and loved it. Fascinating history that is well written; the author has a nice style, too. A perfect companion to this is Frozen in Time. ( )
  quackmd | Dec 15, 2008 |
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A riveting true adventure story.... An award-winning, bestselling author... A page-turner that’s impossible to put down.   Almost everyone knows the photo of John F. Kennedy, Jr., as a young boy, peering out from under his father’s desk in the Oval Office. But few realize that the desk itself plays a part in one of the world’s most extraordinary mysteries--a dramatic tale that has never before been told in its full scope. Acclaimed historian Martin Sandler--a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, winner of seven Emmy#65533; Awards, and author of more than 50 books--finally brings the entire story to light. This amazing high-seas adventure encompasses the search for the Northwest Passage in the early 1800s; a renowned explorer and his crew of 128 men who vanish during an 1845 expedition; 39 incredible, heroic attempted rescue missions; a ghost ship that drifts for more than 1,200 miles; a queen’s gratitude; and that famous desk. Fascinating rare photographs, paintings, engravings, and maps illustrate the book throughout. It all began when, in one of the biggest news stories of the 19th century, Sir John Franklin and his ships the Erebus and the Terror disappeared while attempting to locate the fabled Northwest Passage. At the request of Franklin’s wife, Lady Jane, the first mission set out from England in hopes of finding him; many others followed in its wake, none successful. Among these was the Resolute, the finest vessel in Queen Victoria’s Navy. But in 1854 it became locked in Arctic ice and was abandoned by its captain. A year later, a Connecticut whaler discovered it 1,200 miles away--drifting and deserted, a 600-ton ghost ship. He and his small crew boarded the Resolute, and steered it through a ferocious hurricane back to New London, Connecticut. The United States government then reoutfitted the ship and returned it to the thankful Queen. In 1879, when the Resolute was finally retired, she had the best timbers made into a desk for then-President Rutherford B. Hayes. It is still used by U.S. presidents today...one of the most celebrated pieces of furniture in the White House.

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