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Farthest North Paperback – February 10, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 798 pages
  • Publisher: Nabu Press (February 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1144153026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1144153029
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.6 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,207,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Modern Library has unearthed a classic. The long out-of-print Farthest North, one of the first titles in the library's Exploration series, recounts Dr. Fridtjof Nansen's epic 1893 pursuit of the North Pole. Like Jon Krakauer, the series' editor, Nansen was the chronicler of one his age's most sensational adventures. But he was also much more: statesman and explorer, scientist and sex symbol, Nansen's singular character and remarkable spirit demand attention and respect. It's hard to fathom how a story with such an alluring hero was forgotten in the first place.

The good doctor entered the limelight after his landmark first crossing of Greenland in 1888. Shortly after, he concocted a brilliant (or lunatic, depending on whom you asked) scheme to conquer the pole. He and a small crew would freeze a specially designed boat in the ice and drift with the Arctic current, which he believed would carry him from the coast of Siberia northwest to the pole. In mid-voyage, he realized that the current would not carry him far enough. Undaunted, he and a companion set out across the ice with a dogsled. Nansen was left for dead, but when he stumbled upon another exploration team more than a year later--having reached farther north than anyone before him--he returned to Norway an international sensation.

This book, the chronicle of that journey, was hurriedly written to capitalize on that sensation. Penned in only two months, it lacks literary polish, but Nansen's eye for detail and indomitable spirit shine through. Because he wrote while still thawing from his adventures, his story has an exciting immediacy, one that the passing of a century has done little to diminish. As a historical document, as an epic adventure, and as a revival of a worthy hero long forgotten, Farthest North is a tale well worth remembering. --Andrew Nieland --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


'One of the great epics of polar exploration' -- Fergus Fleming, author of Barrow's Boys

'The most sensational expedition of the period.' -- Max Jones, The Times Higher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book is a must for readers interested in polar exploration.
Thomas G. Chasteen
I've just been skipping through the book again whilst writing this review and it makes me want to read it once more.
Etienne Jackson
Modern exploration really began with Fridtjof Nansen and his Norwegian Polar Expedition.
Dr. Jack Stuster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Thomas G. Chasteen on January 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This review is in reference to the original two volume set of Nansen's "Farthest North" published in 1897. The Modern Library abridged edition is drawn from that set.
Nansen and 12 colleagues left Norway and sailed north in the Arctic Ocean above Siberia in 1893. Their purpose was to become frozen in the ice as it formed farther and farther south in the fall. Based on historical evidence from other attempts at far-north Arctic Ocean exploration, Nansen had decided that the flow of currents and winds in the Arctic Ocean were such that a frozen-in vessel that began above the Siberian Islands would drift northward with the ice across the North Pole over the next year or so. His goal therefore was to be the first to the North Pole. He planned for a expedition of as long as three years.
These Arctic explorers' ship was a specially designed vessel, the Fram. Her construction was such that when trapped in the frozen ice, which had extremely variable depths and especially pressures, the ship would rise up above the swelling pack ice and avoid being crushed. The success of the ship's design was absolutely spectacular. This should be compared to the fate of the Endurance, Shackleton's ship (described in his book "South"), which was trapped in the Antarctic ice and crushed, more that 17 years after Nansen's memoir was published.
Nansen's great success with sled dogs and sled designs published in the original memoir in 1897 adds credence to the relatively recent indictment (see Huntford) of the English Explorer Robert Scott who still disregarded the intense use of sled dogs in his 1910-12 Antarctic effort to reach the South Pole.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John M. Roberts on April 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I will only state briefly, that I have an abiding interest inarctic exploration and I find that this edition, while very useful,does not do justice to the 1897 original in that the many engravings and esp the color prints are missing. One must purchase a used book to get the whole flavor of the original.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jack Stuster on January 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Modern exploration really began with Fridtjof Nansen and his Norwegian Polar Expedition. All who came after him benefited immensely from his experience. The primary characteristic that distinguished Nansen from most other explorers was that he approached all aspects of expedition planning with scientific precision. He started by reading accounts of previous expeditions in order to learn from the experiences of his predecessors. Nansen remarked in his diary that, to his surprise, most of the problems confronting him already had been addressed and, in many instances, solved by previous explorers: wear appropriate clothing, pay special attention to the food, select crew members who can get along, then keep them busy and entertained. In my book, Bold Endeavors: Lessons From Polar and Space Exploration, I suggest the Norwegian Polar Expedition as a model for modern space explorers. Nansen's systematic simulation, testing, and evaluation of every item of equipment and his meticulous attention to every detail and possible contingency set him apart from all previous and most subsequent explorers. But, most important, Nansen recognized that the physical and psychological well-being of his crew could make the difference between success and failure. Accordingly, he provided a well-designed habitat, insightful procedures, and exceptional leadership to a qualified and compatible crew. Roald Amundsen, the most successful of all explorers, wrote that, "The human factor is three quarters of any expedition." Before Amund-sen, Nansen knew that human factors were the critical components of any expedition; in Nansen's words, "It is the man that matters."
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Hal Lancer on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I share the wonder of others at Nansen's achievements in advancing the art of arctic exploration many important steps forward. This pioneer recognized that the "North Pole" was neither frozen land nor solid ice but rather, slowly moving ice. Nansen designed his ship the "Fram" to not only withstand the movement of ice but to use it to his advantage. He planned for several years of drift in arctic ice with no hope of rescue if things went badly. Before his voyage, he was dismissed (as other explorers before him) as a reckless nut case. On the trip, he occupied his crew with scientific study, ship maintenance, and occasional celebrations and treats. Nansen grew impatient with his plan, left the Fram to the care of his crew, and journeyed with one other crew member on a double-dogsled slog for the Pole. The two men mushed until blocked (300 miles from the Pole); heading home, they got lost when their watches stopped and they could no longer orient themselves on the map, GPS being unavailable at the time ;-). The two groups of explorers simultaneously arrived home by separate eventful journeys. This is a remarkable story of successes and misses.
"Farthest North" combines Nansen's post-trip narratives of events with many verbatim daily journal entries. These passages, as in most diaries, are understandably highly repetitive and at times lack focus. (It's easy enough to skim until finding something more engaging.) I found Nansen's descriptions of the polar darkness lasting many weeks each winter and its effects on morale particularly compelling. Also well recounted was the nerve-wracking grinding and pressure of the ice upon the "Fram" with the underlying danger of shipwreck in the Arctic.
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