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Fatal Passage: The Story of John Rae, the Arctic Hero Time Forgot (2001)
by Ken McGoogan
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786711566, Paperback)In the spring of 1854, John Rae, a Scottish immigrant to Canada, led a small party of explorers across the Boothia Peninsula to map the missing link in the fabled Northwest Passage. That signal accomplishment, along with Rae's other contributions to Canadian and world geography, should have earned him glory. Instead, Ken McGoogan tells us, Rae faded from the record.
Rae's trouble, McGoogan writes, came from unpleasant reports that he filed about the fate of an earlier expedition, led by Sir John Franklin, whose remains he discovered along the way. Lost "in a hummocky wasteland of yawning crevasses and ten-foot pressure ridges assailed by blizzards and blowing snow," the unfortunate party--or so Inuit hunters reported to Rae--resorted to eating the dead. The news scandalized Victorian society, drawing vigorous objections from none other than Charles Dickens, who argued that proper British heroes were incapable of such acts and had to have been done in by the Inuit themselves. Rae, the messenger, was effectively killed by the tidings he brought, and written out of the history books. In this insightful and adventure-packed book, McGoogan restores Rae's name to the long roster of heroes of Arctic exploration. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:44 -0400)
Rae (1813-93) was the only major British Arctic explorer never to receive a knighthood. His error, says Calgary-based novelist McGoogan, was that when he returned to London in the middle 1850s, from his explorations across what would become northern Canada, he brought tragic news of the long-lost expedition led by Sir John Franklin and so brought on his head the vilification of such powers as Lady Franklin and Charles Dickens.
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