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Across the Top of the World: The Quest for the Northwest Passage Hardcover – October, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Facts on File; First Edition edition (October 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816041245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816041244
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,633,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

After Columbus found his voyage to Asia unexpectedly blocked by the New World, one driving goal of explorers was to find a way around it. To the south, the Strait of Magellan is one of the most difficult journeys in the world; it seemed only reasonable to expect that a more comfortable alternative would lie to the north.

In the event, of course, the world is not designed for human comfort, and the Northwest Passage is incredibly arduous and not particularly useful. But the search motivated Arctic exploration and adventure for hundreds of years, and inspired many gripping or tragic adventures. Arctic archeologist James Delgado relates these tales--the voyages of the Norsemen, Henry Hudson, Sir John Franklin, and others--with a rare combination of verve, historical context, and lots of illustrations. Maps, photos, and images from different eras make Across the Top of the World a fascinating book for browsing or for concentrated reading. It's an invaluable companion--reference, atlas, and history--to any other book about polar exploration and adventure. --Mary Ellen Curtin

From Publishers Weekly

Like George Mallory, Sir John Franklin died at an icy extreme of the globe. The cumulative efforts of those who followed Franklin (1786-1847) into the Arctic in order to discover what became of him eventually led to the charting of the Northwest Passage, a sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the coast of North America. The history of the European quest for the Passage is full of dramatic stories of men at their best and worst in harsh conditions. Delgado's workmanlike history stretches from Martin Frobisher's voyages (1576-1578) through the doomed expedition of Franklin (1845-1847) to Norwegian Roald Amundsen's successful voyage through the Passage in 1906. The saga is filled with cannibalism, lack of foresight, heroism, resourcefulness, greed and the stiff upper lips of 19th-century British naval officers weathering the rigors of Arctic winters. Delgado, executive director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum, gives blow-by-blow accounts of all the major voyages, noting those commanders, such as William Parry (1790-1855), who exhibited good judgment and a respect for the Arctic natives and those who, like Frobisher, confronted both the landscape and its inhabitants with imperial contempt. Delgado clearly did thorough research in an effort to place as many pertinent facts as possible between two covers. The result is an account of the European encounter with the Arctic that is stronger on detail than on drama. But the book is a spectacular reference. Readers who wish to read further about the Arctic would do well to have Delgado's book handy as they read Parry's journals or Barry Lopez's beautiful Arctic Dreams. 80 full-color photos; 100 b&w illus.; 6 maps; bibliography; index. BOMC and History Book Club alternates. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The moment I picked up the book I couldn't put it down! It is truly a story of adventure, courage, tragedy, and triump.I am currently reading Endurance and this book with all of it's woderful photographs,and illustrations has given me insight into what it must have been like to have been there.I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the Arctic and it's courageous explorer's. Mr Delgado I give your book five stars!!!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I really loved this book. Delgado's writing is so vivid and clear that you really feel like you are there! Everyone should read this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Norsemen may have been the first to attempt this passage but they were certainly not the last. Over 300 years of trials and bitter, freezing failures were to come and go before Norwegian Roald Amundsen finally conquered the passage in the early 20th century. It is not a coincidence that the only other undiscovered lands and the last of the remaining great adventures was also in a snowy, bitter climate - Shackleton's voyage to the Antarctic on the 'Endurance' was taking place at about the same time.
Disimilar to other 'popular history' books, this one does not have the same easy, flowing, narrative style but what it does differently and better than other pop histories is give details. Here you learn all that you could possibly want to know about every unfortunate mission that unsuccessfully sought the Nortwest passage. Crammed with maps, photos and illustrations it's all here. The little sidebar descriptions - mini biographies- of many of the explorers is a nice feature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By UnkWot on July 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book has the capacity to touch you intellectually and emotionally. It is a well written book on explorers and exploration. This book brings to life those searching for the Northwest Passage. Their struggles and hardships are well documented.
I loaned this book to a friend, who is somewhat of a stoic, and inquired how he liked it. He responded the book brought tears to his eyes. He was able to clearly envision the hardships these people endured. Amazingly, they willingly faced those hardships again to assist others.
This book takes you to a time when extrodinary hardships were dealt with as a fact of life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lauren S. Kahn on March 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book a very interesting read. The photos were wonderful. It covers the varied expeditions on the quest for the Northwest Passage. Lots of people lost their lives and ultimately it was not, of course, a really usable shipping route.
The Franklin expedition and the various search parties is well covered. The one existing daguerotype of Franklin, which I had not seen, is included, as are the recent discoveries and theories about what happened.
At a bargain price, this is a nice gift book. Mine came without the tell tale black "bargain stripe" on the spine.
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