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To the End of the Earth by Tom Avery

To the End of the Earth (2009)

by Tom Avery

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In 1909, Robert Peary led an expedition to the Arctic with the goal of becoming the first to reach the North Pole. After developing a system of resupply that allowed him to get a fresh team and dogs to a base camp with 100 miles of the Pole, he and Matthew Henson, along with four Inuit, did it. Of course, as soon as Peary got back, questions about Peary's record-keeping popped up and over the years, the belief that Peary cheated became conventional wisdom - mainly based on the idea that Peary just couldn't have covered territory as fast as he reported. Roll forward to 2005. Tom Avery, after a successful trek on foot to the South Pole, got the idea to duplicate Peary's trip to show that travel as fast as he reported is, in fact, possible. To The End of the Earth is the story of their expedition.

Avery's trip was certainly eventful, and at times downright horrifying. Avery and his team of four other explorers, 16 dogs and two sleds managed to beat Peary's time to the pole by 4 hours, lending credence to the idea that Peary did indeed make the journey he said he did - though not without a bit of controversy himself. It's an exciting story, one I was eager to read. Unfortunately, Avery's a much better explorer than writer. It's not that the book was bad, it's just that the main thing I got out of it was a sense of the size of Avery's ego. I know that it takes a strong personality to do the things explorers do, but it got to be a bit much. Avery adds a bit about Peary and the history of polar exploration. With more of this and a bit of toning down, To the End of the Earth could have been outstanding instead of just average. ( )
2 vote drneutron | Jul 9, 2011 |
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To my girls, Mary, Maud and Olive
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The barricade of gigantic ice boulders reared up ahead of us.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031255186X, Hardcover)

April 2009 is the one-hundredth anniversary of perhaps the greatest controversy in the history of exploration. Did U.S. Naval Commander Robert Peary and his team dogsled to the North Pole in thirty-seven days in 1909? Or, as has been challenged, was this speed impossible, and was he a cheat? In 2005, polar explorer Tom Avery and his team set out to recreate this 100-year-old journey, using the same equipment as Peary, to prove that Peary had indeed done what he had claimed and discovered the North Pole.

Navigating treacherous pressure ridges, deadly channels of open water, bitterly cold temperatures, and traveling in a similar style to Peary’s with dog teams and replica wooden sledges bound together with cord, Avery tells the story of how his team covered 413 nautical miles to the North Pole in thirty-six days and twenty-two hours—some four hours faster than Peary. Weaving fascinating polar exploration history with thrilling extreme adventure, this is Avery’s story of how he and his team nearly gave their lives proving Peary told the truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:46 -0400)

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A polar explorer describes his efforts to recreate Robert Peary's 1909 dogsled journey to the North Pole, describing the hardships and dangers he and his team faced and comparing their modern journey to Peary's trip one hundred years ago.

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