Wednesday, December 24, 2008

by Ken McGoogan

Not willing to stay at home, hang up a shingle and practice medicine, Elisha Kent Kane was more interested in adventuring around the world. Even though he had heart problems, he had already been involved in death-defying experiences: being dropped in a volcano in the Philippines and almost getting stabbed in a fight in the Sierra Madre. But, when he went on an expedition, serving as the assistant surgeon on a ship, searching for the lost British explorer Sir John Franklin, in the Arctic, he knew he had found his calling.
In 1853, Kane sailed with his own men to look for the Open Polar Sea and Franklin. Eventually, they would be trapped in the ice, but Kane's enduring friendship with the Inuits taught him how to survive in the extreme cold.
Kane and his team would abandon the ship and escape by sledge, dogsled and then open boats, traveling 1,300 miles in eighty-three days.
Who would have thought that a young, thirty-three year old man, from a prominent Philadelphian family, would return home not only as a hero, but as America's greatest explorer.
In Race to the Polar Sea Ken McGoogan has written a fantastic thriller. From the Prologue to the last page, you are caught up in the story. What is really amazing is that Kane's manuscripts were lost for 150 years. A friend of the author, who owns an antiquarian bookstore, acquired Kane's collection from the descendants of his brother.
There are photographs and drawings (Kane did all of his own illustrations).
A book not to be missed.
Highly recommended.