She Went a-whaling: the Journal of Martha Smith Brewer Brown.

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An example of a whaling captain’s wife going to sea with him. Whaling wives were usually known for their New England piety amidst the rough-hewn crews of 19th-century whaling ships. This is the diary of one of them, Martha Brown, who sailed from Orient NY aboard the Lucy Ann on August 31, 1847, on an eastward voyage round the world that eventually passed Cape Horn:

Polar Extremes: The World of Lincoln Ellsworth.

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A sympathetic but not uncritical account of Ellsworth, his problem with his father, his relationship to Amundsen and Nobile on Svalberg, to Alaska flight, etc.

“Samuel Hearne’s Accounts of the Massacre at Bloody Fall, 17 July 1771”

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By comparing Hearne’s field notes to the posthumous published vision of Hearne’s Journey, Maclaren calls into question the later Hearne account of the young woman at Bloody Fall. George Back was the first to call it into question. The horrid elaboration comes in the published version, not before, and indicates a good deal of editorial meddling. In his notes Hearne is only a neutral onlooker; in publication he is a reluctant participant.

My Arctic Journal: A Year among Ice-fields and Eskimos….

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An account of Mrs. Peary’s Greenland journey accompanying her husband in 1891-92. She comes across as fairly demure but domineering over both Henson and the natives.

Band of Brothers: Boy Seamen in the Royal Navy.

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This is partly autobiographical, partly historical in its description of the training and service of boys in the Royal Navy, a system which did not end until 1956, amply demonstrating the RN’s vaunted conservatism. He attended the nautical school for boy seaman known as Ganges, and neatly compares its ancient traditions with those of his post-1950s education.

The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule.

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Joanna Kavenna went north in search of the Atlantis of the Arctic, the mythical land of Thule. Seen once by an Ancient Greek explorer and never found again, mysterious Thule came to represent the vast and empty spaces of the north. Fascinated for many years by Arctic places, Kavenna decided to travel through the lands that have been called Thule, from Shetland to Iceland, Norway, Estonia, and Greenland. On her journey, she found traces of earlier writers and travellers, all compelled by the idea of a land called Thule: Richard Francis Burton, William Morris, Anthony Trollope, as well as the Norwegian Polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen . . . The Ice Museum is a mesmerising story of idealism and ambition, wars and destruction, survival and memories, set against the haunting backdrop of the northern landscape. Bookseller Inventory #0670913952

Children of the Light: The Rise and Fall of New Bedford Whaling and the Death of the Arctic Fleet

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A somewhat elegiac tale of the decline of whaling and New Bedford, contrasted with descriptions of the life of the Inuit, before and after the coming of the whalers to the Beaufort Sea area. Main focus at end is on the disastrous season at Pt. Barrow of the whaling fleet which abandoned over 25 ships, but managed to rescue over 1200 whalemen.

In the Days of the Red River Rebellion.

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p. 26-27, winter of 1868-69 near Edmondton: Most of our reading was done by the time tallow dip or chimney fire; our literature was limited, and of the ancient type; one thousand miles to the nearest post gave us very little trouble with our mail.

Gentlemen and Tarpaulins: Officers and Men of the Restoration Navy.

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This is the first scholarly study of the Royal Navy during the reigns of Charles II and James II. Historians have long viewed the Restoration Navy through the eyes of Samuel Pepys, the greatest diarist and naval administrator of the age. Perceptive and intelligent as Pepys was, he presented only a one-sided view of the Navy, that of a bureaucrat attempting to reorganize it. Davies assesses this traditional picture of the Restoration Navy in the light of recent scholarship, using the evidence not only of Pepys but of his contemporaries. He examines the reactions of naval personnel to the demands imposed by Pepys, and analyzes the structure of the service. He also explores the lives and attitudes of the men (the "tarpaulins") and their officers - the quests for promotion, enrichment, and glory; the very different problems posed by peace and war; the nature of life at sea; and the role of the Navy in national life.

The Autobiography of a Seaman.

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This author is one very aristocratic sailor who had his troubles with the Royal Navy and the British government in the early nineteenth century. Suffice it to say that this is not a voice from the forecastle, but of petulant complaints concerning the “injustice and folly” of the government court (p. 493). There is nothing I could find in this book about polar reading, or any reading at all.

Skating to Antarctica: A Journey to the End of the World

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This largely autobiographical work using the hook of a voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula aboard the tourist ship, Academik Vavilov, to explore the pained relation of the author to her parents, and her own daughter’s efforts to explore those relationships. The somewhat mean-spirited passages on the sea voyage to South Georgia and the Peninsula are outweighed by the psychological exploration of troubled parental relations. In essence there is little about Antarctica beyond descriptions of tourists and penguins, nothing about reading, and a bit about boredom.

Journal of a Voyage with Bering, 1741-1742.

 Preview 

p. 189: Footnote: Among the essential items [on Bering’s expedition] were three quadrants, one chronometer, one compass, one spyglass, eleven books of navigation, one bundle of charts, two bundles of calculations, and seven maps. [See Bancroft 90: n 14.]