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Weird and Tragic Shores: The Story of Charles Francis Hall, Explorer (Modern Library Exploration) Paperback – April 4, 2000
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"One of the best Arctic narratives ever written."--David Roberts
From the Inside Flap
Ninety-seven years later, Chauncey Loomis headed an expedition to Hall's grave in northwestern Greenland. He exhumed Hall's frozen body and performed an autopsy. His findings suggest that the investigators of Hall's death nervously sidestepped the damning evidence. Loomis has written a masterful biography-cum-mystery that brilliantly evokes the lure of the Arctic and the brutal contest between man and nature.
With a new Introduction by Andrea Barrett, author of "The Voyage of the Narwhal
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Top Customer Reviews
While Cook's experience with his Inuit contracts proved ultimately frustrating to him, subsequent analysis of what he heard may provide genuine information on what went on with the Franklin expedition (and what went wrong).
The book is well written, interesting, and contains high drama and Artic adventure all its own. I would emphatically read it in concert with David Woodman's "Strangers Among Us," a careful analysis of the Inuit testimony received by Hall that provides what may be the last word on the fate of the Franklin expedition from the descendants of people who made periodic contact with the men from the Erebus and Terror at various points during the painful deterioration of ships and crew.
This book, now back in print, should not be missed by people with an interest in nineteenth century British and U.S. experiences in the Arctic. It has drama and human interest all its own, and deserves its place in the literature of Polar exploration in general, John Franklin's last expedition in particular.
The author Loomis trys to convey the environment of thought that created the appeal the Arctic had for Hall. The sentiment was much more pervasively Christian during the 1860-1870s when Hall made his 3 trips to the north and was able to get farther north than any Westerner had until then. In the Afterword, Loomis describes some of the appeal the vast, unexplored Artic must have had for Westerners. The Artic was both magnificent and terrifying, it was as Byron wrote "All that expands the spirit, yet appals." Loomis explains that the public had an asthetic of the sublime and this went a long way to explain to me the attraction Polar exploration must have had for Hall. But as a modern day mountaineer Fred Beckey said, "Man is not always a welcome visitor in a kingdom he cannot control."
The American explorer Kane, who died at age 36 was so revered by the American public for his exploits, that when his body was brought to New Orleans and then went up the Mississippi to it's ultimate burial location, people lined the river the entire way to bid him farewell. This helps explain the regard the public had for explorers (especially the ones who wrote accessible books).
Hall leads the first two expeditions in search of one of the overriding mysteries of the time, what happened to the members of the British expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The last and fatal voyage was in search of the North Pole. However, because of the funding by the US government of the expedition, the loss of Hall and loss of the ship itself, there was a US Naval inquiry.Read more ›
It may be an indication that I've spent too much time reading Polar Exploration books, but Loomis leaves out some things that not only came out in other books about Hall's expidition (esp. the third), but came out in his chapter on the investigation after the survivors came home. As an example, Budington's drinking. Other books have gone into considerably more detail about that, and Loomis describes how it came out in the investigation, but as he writes about the expedition as it happens, it rates barely a mention. It's almost as if Loomis didn't know about it until it came out in the queries, which is ridiculous. Whatever the conclusion of what really killed Hall, the fact that the 2nd in command was a drunken sot surely should be mentioned, especially in the incredibly confined, madness-inducing "world" of a people locked into the Arctic ice.
Other glaring gaps come in the form of statements he makes but does nothing to explain or back up. One example; when, on the last expedition, the ship is anchored to a berg, a storm comes up & yanks it off, setting it adrift. Now, the ship was carefully anchored to the berg when they realized they were stuck for the winter; the captain & crew put it there with care & aforethought. When it comes off, however, Loomis states that "[the ship] could not be steered" & talks about them being frantic, drifting helplessly amongst the menacing ice. Why?? He never mentions anything being broken except the anchoring ropes. Why all of a sudden was the ship helpless, when everything was fine when they settled down? Is this some sort of literary license to make it more exciting?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating book, well written. A view into the life and psychology of an intrepid arctic explorer. Made me cold just reading it.Published 2 months ago by R
A detailed biography of certainly the oddest and easily the most fascinating of the 19th century polar explorers. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Steffan B. Aletti
C.F. Hall deserves a higher place in the pantheon of 19th century Arctic explorers. Hall had no experience as a sailor, navigator or explorer yet he made 3 excursions into the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by TigVI
Very intriguing story. Charles Francis Hall was an American original, and the authors does honor the man well. Read morePublished on November 25, 2013 by Ivan Serov
This story illustrates the compulsion of people attracted to places they are not equipped to deal with and die trying. Read morePublished on September 20, 2013 by R. Denley
starting out slow but gets better, enjoying it as, much as i read about the adventures to the arctic,still not on my bucket list
Mike Horns book is what got me started on this... Read more
Charles Hall is the most extravagant figure in arctic exploration. His life is a poem. His biography is excellent. But, I have read a lot about arctic and antarctic exploration. Read morePublished on January 27, 2008 by Stanislaw Herman
What causes a merely modestly successful, married middle class businessman during the American civil war era to suddenly decide to head up an artic rescue mission (and then return... Read morePublished on November 7, 2003 by Bill King