Tuesday, December 20, 2016

by David Welky

Navy Commander Robert E. Peary was considered to be the world's most famous explorer. His claim to fame was the North Pole. Over a twenty-year span, Peary took four trips to the Arctic but never quite reached his destination (detractors would say that he was nowhere near it). He spent most of that time trying to get benefactors to finance his trips.
In 1906 (which would be his last adventure), Peary tried again and after climbing up a 2,000-foot peak that he named Cape Colgate after one of his financial backers (these monuments to his supporters were all over the place), he saw through his binoculars some snow-clad hills. Oh, boy, undiscovered land! How he wanted to find and explore it, but he no longer had the strength. Peary would name it Crocker Land after a San Francisco banker (George Crocker) who donated $50,000toward the expedition. Somebody else would have to investigate.
A few years later, one of Peary's acolytes (Donald MacMillan) would do just that. Macmillan revered Peary and had actually been on one of his expeditions. He would be the leader of six amateur adventurers who would also do scientific exploration and bring back unheard of specimens.
There have been so many books written about the history of polar expeditions and every one that I have read have been tremendous. A Wretched and Precarious Situation is just as fantastic as the others. Author David Welky is a fabulous writer. He definitely knows how to keep your interest riveted. Welky is very good with details especially in the characterizations of the men, whether they were the native Inuit who accompanied them or his fellow comrades who were along for the journey. The story is compelling and suspenseful. At over four hundred pages, you never feel as if the book is a slog and you want it to end already. Nothing of the sort. I couldn't put it down. If you want to know what happened, get a copy and hunker down. A truly, phenomenal read.
Very highly recommended.