Race to the Polar Sea

Race to the Polar Sea

The Heroic Adventures and Romantic Obsessions of Elisha Kent Kane

Book - 2008 | First edition.
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Elisha Kent Kane, scion of a wealthy and influential Philadelphia family, became a legend of 19th-century America. Before he was 30, he had descended into a volcano in the Philippines, infiltrated a company of slave traders in West Africa and narrowly survived hand-to-hand combat in the Sierra Madre while carrying a secret message from the president of the United States.
    Yet Kane would achieve his greatest fame by exploring the High Arctic, an adventure that began when he sailed in search of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin and the open water of an alleged "polar sea" around the North Pole. In the mid-1850s, Kane pushed farther north than any other voyager, then spent two years trapped in the ice before leading a desperate but heroic retreat that only added to his legend. Kane also enjoyed a secret love affair with a young Canadian-born spiritualist named Maggie Fox, a celebrated "spirit rapper" deemed unsuitable by his family. How this relationship combined with Kane's tragic early death to deny him his rightful place in history is one of the most dramatic aspects of the book.
    Race to the Polar Sea tells the story of a romantic adventurer driven by dreams of glory. It is a tale of heroism, courage and conspiracy that evokes an age when the Arctic seemed a white, booming emptiness, beautiful and unknowable.

Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : HarperCollins, [2008]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9780002007764
Branch Call Number: 910.92 KAN MCG
Characteristics: 380 pages :,illustrations, map ;,4 3/4 in.


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Apr 29, 2010

About 75% of this book is about early Arctic exploration done by Elisha Kane and his crew and I found it extremely interesting. The story covers the two years that Kane and his crew are trapped by ice in the deep North and their daily struggle for survival. However, the other 25% of the book is about Elisha Kane's family and love affairs and I had to force my way through these chapters. Even though I loved sections of this book, I was still glad to get to the last chapter, especially since the last 60 pages of the book were about his domestic affairs and his death and they were very anti-climatic compared to his arctic voyage. (

Jan 03, 2009

Giller prize winner.

Presented this book at the Oakville Bookers Brunch.

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