A genuine attempt at an objective assessment of Peary and his North Pole claim, which Herbert eventually concludes to have been off the mark, probably by 50 miles. He carefully avoids anything that might be prejudicial against Peary, but he doesn’t seem to, the same restraint re Cook (but that itself might be prejudicial on my part). In the end he does seem to vindicate Peary as national hero (see Lisa Bloom).
p. 53-56, says that Peary had a childhood fascination dating back to reading Elisha Kent Kane’s “wonderful book. What follows is a synopsis of much of Peary’s reading of Polar literature, a brief history of Arctic exploration from Parry to Greely.
p. 74, Herbert asks why such an experienced polar traveler failed to reach the North Pole on his earlier expeditions: But where are we to go in search of answers? His published accounts covering these three expeditions offer some of the most fascinating reading in the history of exploration, but they are incomplete. His original diaries are more revealing, and some of the letters deeply moving. But his written words are guarded and we will not find the answers here, only the shape of the missing pieces and perhaps, from the uncompleted picture, an impression which may be true.
p. 104, in a letter to his wife Josephine Peary how he had hidden sensitive objects such as keys and guns. March 31, 1895: Should I not return [from his next expedition] the rest of the house [Anniversary Lodge] should go back on the ship. Put on exhibition it will make you independent. All the keys I have put back of the books on the very top shelf.
p. 125-26, December 1900 at Fort Conger, Peary describes his daily routine, including evenings writing, reading, and planning. Herbert notes that this Fort Conger stretch of June 1900 to May 1901 “is almost inexplicably blank.”
p. 159, mentions three papers Cook gave at the Eighth International Geographic Congress in NY (14 Sept 1904) on his attempt to climb Mount McKinley, the second an explorer’s ‘comparative view’ of the Arctic and the Antarctic, and the third on his experience as surgeon on the Belgica (see New York Sun Sept 14 and 15, 1904).
p. 224-25, before the 1909 attempt to reach the Pole: Peary spent his last winter in the Arctic planning and reading while his eager crew worked, trained, blazed the trails and prepared the way for their master. Finally, one by one, his “divisions” set out for Cape Columbia until, by the 21st of February, 1809, Peary alone of the polar party was left on board the ship.
p. 238, short section on Peary’s ghostwriter, A. E. Thomas.