Ninety Degrees North | Granta

  • Published: 11/10/2002
  • ISBN: 9781862075351
  • 131x20mm
  • 496 pages

Ninety Degrees North

Fergus Fleming

In the mid-nineteenth century the North Pole was a mystery. Some believed that it was an island of basalt in a warm crystal sea. Explorers who tried to penetrate the icy wastes failed or died. But after Sir John Franklin disappeared with all his men in 1845, serious efforts began to be made to find the true northernmost point of the globe. Fergus Fleming’s book is a vivid, witty history of the disasters that ensued. The new explorers included Elisha Kane, a sickly man and useless commander, who led his team close to death in 1854, and Charles Hall, a printer from Ohio. Hall made the mistake of taking an experienced crew, who refused to commit suicide for him. Their mutiny so enraged Hall that he died of a stroke, and some of his crew escaped south on an ice floe. They were followed by the Germans, newly united and eager for their place in the ice, the Austro-Hungarians and the British, who in 1876 managed to get further than any other expedition, travelling over terrain later explorers considered impassable. They left the field to the Norwegians, to expeditions organized by the American tabloid press, Swedish baloonists, aristocratic Italians and finally to the obsessive Robert Peary, who on one trip took his pregnant wife with him in order to set a record for the most northerly birth in history. He finally made it in 1909.

Barrow's Boys, Fergus Fleming's history of British exploration in the first half of the 19th century was an excellent book. Ninety Degrees North ... is an even better one

Sunday Telegraph

This is the sort of book you want to read in front of a blazing fire. It is immensely enjoyable

Daily Telegraph

Fleming gives us a wonderful story, and tells it exceptionally well

Guardian

The Author

Fergus Fleming is a freelance writer living in London and Gloucestershire. Educated at Oxford University and City University, London, he trained as an accountant and barrister and has worked as a furniture maker. Fergus is also the author of Amaryllis, a portrait of his aunt, and of several children’s books. His non-fiction books Barrow’s Boys and Killing Dragons are published by Granta Books.

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From the Same Author

Fergus Fleming on Granta.com