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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic follow up to "Barrow's Boys"
Having enjoyed Fergus Fleming's account of the British Admiralty's quest to find the North-West Passage that formed the central theme of his excellent "Barrow's Boys", I was not disappointed by this brilliant follow up that takes from it's starting point the attempt to find out what happened to Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition. Whilst the earlier book centred...
Published on 13 Mar 2004 by Ian Thumwood

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not light reading
I have to go against the flow here a little bit.

The book is technically excellent. The extent of Mr Fleming's research is impressive and he has mastered his sources. He clearly has a great passion for exploration and this shows through.

Unfortunately I just found it a depressing, heavy read. I nearly didn't bother finishing it the first time and...
Published on 17 Feb 2012 by Dev B


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic follow up to "Barrow's Boys", 13 Mar 2004
By 
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (Paperback)
Having enjoyed Fergus Fleming's account of the British Admiralty's quest to find the North-West Passage that formed the central theme of his excellent "Barrow's Boys", I was not disappointed by this brilliant follow up that takes from it's starting point the attempt to find out what happened to Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition. Whilst the earlier book centred around a host of intrepid and wonderfully eccentric British explorers, this book demonstrates that the next generation of American and European explorers were no less interesting. "Ninety Degrees North" describes the attempts to find the North Pole between the middle of the Nineteenth century up until the 1920's.
This book includes a cast of characters such as Peary (whose achievements come under scrutiny) and Strindberg who sought to reach the North Pole by balloon. The expeditions demonstrate both extraordinary human endurance as well as stupidity and are well told in Fleming's witty and ironic prose.
New readers to the works of Fergus Fleming should seek out the earlier "Barrow's Boys" before acquiring this as it is very much a sequel to the other. I would unreservedly recommend both books as being some of the most exciting and fascinating history I have read in recent years.I will guarantee that you will be unable to put both books down. "The sword and the cross" is also worth checking out.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent study of Arctic exploration, 2 Mar 2003
By 
P. Robson (Norwich, Norfolk United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (Paperback)
A word before I start. If you buy this you *must* buy Fleming's book "Barrows Boys" ; this is part 2 of 2, (even though you can't tell from the title)
This is an excellent book. It details Arctic history from 1848ish (Franklin search) through to Peary/Cook/Henson/no-ones discovery of the pole in 1908/9 (it does go on a little after that covering various flying expeditions).
Whereas Barrow's Boys (1818-1845) had a British focus, this book has a more American focus ; this is because of the explorers themselves, not Fleming himself.
Both books are basically sequential descriptions of each expedition - there is enough detail to get a good feel for each expedition (with the curious exceptions of Greely's expedition to Fort Conger and the Karluk expedition ?) in reasonable depth, and a bibliography for those who wish to read further.
The book deals with some detail wrt Cook and Peary, and concludes, basically, they both were not telling the truth about reaching 90 degrees, whilst praising their achievements.
It's slightly less humourous than Barrows Boys ; this is more than anything because the explorers had got a bit more competent by then and weren't going to the North Pole in swimsuits; and there are no digressions into African exploration.
This review probably sounds more critical than I feel ; the book is excellent, well researched and lively ; and both it and its companion volume are highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the Arctic, exploration, or just likes a jolly good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of the Antarctic's poor relation, 14 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Ninety Degrees North - The Quest for the North Pole, by Fergus Fleming
THE ARCTIC has always been the poor relation of its southern counterpart; the conquest of the North Pole never having grabbed the public imagination in the same way as its southern opposite.
In part it can largely be put down to the fact there was never, as such, a race to reach the North Pole, at least not one with a concrete result. The head to head charge for the South Pole conducted by rivals Scott and Amundsen in 1911/12, and its tragically glorious outcome, is well known to every attentive British schoolboy and girl, and no doubt to Norwegian ones also.
There is actually a great deal of debate over who first reached the North Pole. Grim obsessive Robert Peary's claim that he got there in 1909 is now widely discounted, and while Amundsen probably saw it first from an airship in 1926, the first who actually set foot on it are now held to be a party of Cold War Russians in 1948.
The Arctic appears starved of romance and heroic figures, with no Scott or Shackleton to call its own, but Fleming proves there were no lack of characters who gave it a go, in his fascinating one volume history.
His pacey and lively prose tells of Swedish balloonists, Italian aristocrats, press barons and others who all chanced their arms and failed miserably. His narrative starts with the fruitless searches for Sir John Franklin, who went missing in the mid-nineteenth century and was never seen again, and concludes at the end of the heroic age in the early twentieth century.
Yet characters are still attracted North; Fleming making note of the Japanese motorcyclist who reached the pole on a 200cc Yamaha in 1987.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nutters or Pioneers, read this and make your own mind up, 20 Jun 2004
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (Paperback)
The other reviews of this excellent book have laid its premise very well. A sequel of sorts to the superb "Barrows Boys" I too would recommend that you read that first as that way much of what is described in this book makes more sense. That's if you can make sense of men amputating their own toes or being so desperate for food that they are reduced to eating their own footwear or being reduced to cannibalism.
Fleming is a very engaging writer with a dry wit and he manages to convey the lunatic passion that drove these men into territory they had no real understanding of. It's also very informative without being too judgemental though he finds difficult to keep the tone of jaundiced disbelief out of his narrative at some of the shenanigans carried out in order to reach The North Pole. The attempt by the balloon The Eagle in particular is couched in terms of particular incredulity. Doubt is cast on some of the claims made by these explorers. Cook and Peary are both examined and found wanting.
This book unlike Barrows Boys centres more on attempts by the Americans and North European Countries because they were the nations primarily concerned in these adventures. It skirts over one resounding episode, namely that of The Karluck, but there is a book dedicated to that episode alone so in a way that's understandable.
Anyone with an interest in Polar exploration will love this. So will any one with a passion for adventure or the unquenchable desire of the human spirit to discover, to conquer and most importantly to survive. That's just about everyone then.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 5 Jun 2009
By 
Sean Chapple "The Business Adventurer" (Taunton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (Paperback)
For those interested in polar history this is one book that must be on your book shelf. The content is remarkable! Sean Chapple author of No Ordinary Tourist and Polar Quest.
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4.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, 1 Oct 2005
This review is from: Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (Paperback)
a a reader of barrows boys i was already a fan of mr flemming
and he didn't disapoint
the rivalry between cook and peary read great as this was all new to me
it even had the odd moment of humour,
when asked how some one had known they had reach the pole they had replied how did the questioner know he had crossed the equator
did they feel the keel bump?
i will buy anything this guy writes
it would be great to read a book based on one story like the ice master (niven) from fergus
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Account of Arctic Exploration, 19 April 2014
By 
Nico (Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (Paperback)
This book provided an excellent account of the history of Arctic exploration. It was very intreating reading about the various expeditions, national rivalries and wild dreams and schemes that propelled getting to the Pole into an absolute obsession. A very good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read history of the quest for the North Pole, 5 Oct 2013
By 
Colin Macaulay (Eyemouth, Berwickshire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This is by far the most readable and well-researched account of the quest to discover and conquer the Arctic regions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Anyone with an interest in that specific subject, anyone with an fascination for the great period of exploration, anyone with a love of well-written and insightful history will love this book.

The author has not written a dry factual account of the various expeditions; instead the reader is drawn into each, meeting the explorers themselves and understanding their characters and the nature of their drive to succeed, living through the trials and horrors of these early probings into an unknown realm, sharing the shame of defeat with those who failed, the triumph of the successes, following the poisonous interplay of adversaries and rivals as they put lives on the line in their ambition to be first to reach an essentially ( at least in practical terms) worthless objective.

A fascinating insight into the forces that were at work in the story of the drive to conquer the last great unknown territory on Earth. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous stuff, 18 May 2013
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a wonderfully readable and colourful account of the heroic era of Arctic exploration from the mid nineteenth century until the early years of the twentieth century. It peters out after the bitter Frederick Cook v Robert Peary argument about which of them, if either, had reached the North Pole first in either 1908 or 1909 respectively. It seems clear that Cook was a fraud. Peary may well have been mistaken in his belief that he had reached it, though he almost certainly came extremely close, and the position is much more ambiguous than that of Cook. Peary was not a pleasant character, as witnessed by some of his activities towards the Eskimo community (stealing their only source of metal) and individual members of it (luring some with false promises then selling them to the Smithsonian Institution as curiosities); though, to be fair, he also inspired great devotion in many of them as well. Peary's extreme self-belief and utter conviction that he alone had the right almost physically to possess the entire Polar region, may well have distorted his judgement - the almost unbelievable speed at which he arrived there, and even more so, that at which he left makes it very difficult to believe he actually achieved 90 degrees north exactly. Before this, there was a rich cast of intrepid explorers like Fridtjof Nansen, scientists with very few leadership qualifications such as Elisha Kent Kane, amateur dreamers like the Verne-esque balloonist Salomon Andree and unscrupulous backers of expeditions such as James Gordon Bennett. There are gripping atmospheric accounts of struggling through snowdrifts and icefields, through months of darkness and battles with depression caused by the lack of light and activity during the winter and the extreme sameness of the landscape, debilitating attacks of scurvy, and frostbite leading to the loss of toes. It's marvellous stuff and a really great read. 5/5
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5.0 out of 5 stars North Pole, 23 Jan 2013
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Excellent, not quite finished, but enjoying every cold moment. Its great to feel part of the adventure without the frost bite.
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Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole
Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole by Fergus Fleming (Paperback - 11 Oct 2002)
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