Race for the Pole.

Generally a whitewash of the Peary legend and legacy (mainly about the 1908-09 expedition) written as a homely narrative based according to Weems on thorough documentation. Although there is a decent bibliography one can’t find documentation for any given passage.

p. 13, describing Peary’s cabin on the Roosevelt when he showed it to Teddy: The cabin held a wide built-in bunk, an ordinary writing desk, several bookshelves holding an arctic library, a pianola, a wicker chair, an office chair, family photographs, and a chest of drawers.

p. 17: As a youth, always mature for his age, he read widely. He was especially fond of reading Elisha Kent Kane’s books on arctic exploration, and he spent many winter evenings sitting before the fireplace, reveling in Kane’s tales of adventure while a Maine blizzard whirled and shrieked outside.

p. 31-32: Shortly before departure, however, one seaman noticed the absence of reading matter. He became concerned enough to mention it to somebody else, and his remark eventually found its way into the columns of a New York newspaper.

Immediately the crew of the Roosevelt was swamped by gifts of books and magazines. In one morning alone 1,200 arrived. As they came aboard they were stowed wherever space was discovered. Eventually so much printed material had been dumped on the Roosevelt that Boatswain John Murphy, a nonreader himself, declared, ‘Books, books, and more books—till I’m thinkin’ we’ll be able to use paper as a substitute for coal. A great pity we can’t eat ‘em.’”

p. 53, re first sledge departure toward Pole: This was the departure day for Bartlett’s pioneer party, which had the job of breaking a trail. In preparation, Bartlett had discarded all of his plug tobacco, which he had first planned to carry on his person, for a copy of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.