Elisha Kent Kane, scion of a wealthy and influential Philadelphia family, became a legend of 19th-century America. Before he was 30, he had descended into a volcano in the Philippines, infiltrated a company of slave traders in West Africa and narrowly survived hand-to-hand combat in the Sierra Madre while carrying a secret message from the president of the United States.
Yet Kane would achieve his greatest fame by exploring the High Arctic, an adventure that began when he sailed in search of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin and the open water of an alleged “polar sea” around the North Pole. In the mid-1850s, Kane pushed farther north than any other voyager, then spent two years trapped in the ice before leading a desperate but heroic retreat that only added to his legend. Kane also enjoyed a secret love affair with a young Canadian-born spiritualist named Maggie Fox, a celebrated “spirit rapper” deemed unsuitable by his family. How this relationship combined with Kane’s tragic early death to deny him his rightful place in history is one of the most dramatic aspects of the book.
Race to the Polar Sea tells the story of a romantic adventurer driven by dreams of glory. It is a tale of heroism, courage and conspiracy that evokes an age when the Arctic seemed a white, booming emptiness, beautiful and unknowable.
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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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Book Description Harpercollins Canada, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2007762
Book Description Phyllis Bruce Books, 2008. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002007762