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To the Pole: The Diary and Notebook of Richard E. Byrd, 1925-1927 (1998)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0814208002, Hardcover)Around the turn of the 20th century, polar exploration became the symbol of national pride and individual worth. Ernest Shackleton, Robert Scott, Roald Amundsen, and Robert Peary, among others, ensured themselves a place in history for their daring assaults on two of the most inhospitable regions on earth: the North and South Poles. In the course of their explorations, these men pitted themselves against a merciless landscape--Shackleton's ship was crushed in Antarctic ice; Scott and four companions died in a howling blizzard on their way back from the South Pole. If walking to the Poles was difficult, flying there presented its own set of problems. Yet, in 1926 Admiral Richard E. Byrd and his pilot, Floyd Bennett, set out to fly over the North Pole. According to Byrd, they succeeded. In the decades since this feat, a shadow of doubt has crept over Byrd's claim. Critics question whether Byrd could have flown to the Pole and back in the amount of time that actually elapsed between his takeoff and return to Spitsbergen, Greenland; allegations that Byrd's calculations were incorrect bolstered hearsay gossip that Bennett had told another pilot that they'd never reached the Pole.
More than 70 years later, new evidence, in the form of a rediscovered diary of Admiral Byrd, throws fresh fuel on the flames of controversy. Raimund E. Goerler, an archivist at Ohio State University, discovered Byrd's handwritten account of the flight in 1996, but rather than laying all doubt to rest once and for all, the diary only serves to further muddy the waters. There are, for example, the suspicious erasures of calculations--innocent errors or a deliberate attempt to fudge the data? In To the Pole, Goerler offers up both Byrd's journal and the opinions of experts on both sides of the controversy in this evenhanded treatment of a historical puzzle.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -0400)
On May 9, 1926, Richard E. Byrd announced to the world that he and copilot Floyd Bennett were the first to fly an airplane over the North Pole. Documents published here for the first time provide new insights into this most controversial accomplishment of Byrd's career. To the Pole presents transcriptions of Byrd's handwritten diary and notebook, which were discovered by Ohio State University archivist Raimund Goerler in 1996 when he was cataloging Byrd's papers for the university. In his diary Byrd recorded his preparations for the North Pole flight, and he used it as a message pad to communicate with his pilot when the deafening noise from the plane's engines rendered verbal communication impossible. Byrd also wrote his navigational calculations on the leaves of his diary, and photographs of these crucial pages are presented in the book as well, along with a copy of Byrd's official report on the expedition to the National Geographic Society.Also included in the book are portions of the diary dealing with Byrd's earlier expedition to Greenland and his flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Goerler has written an introduction and epilogue providing historical context for Byrd's achievements and biographical information on the rest of his extraordinary career. The volume is illustrated with maps and a number of photographs from the Byrd archive.
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