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This bibliography and reading list consists of primary sources, scholarly literature, and popular literature about the history of polar exploration from its earliest days to the twenty-first century. The books on this annotated bibliography will broaden the imagination and scholarly intrigue of avid and casual readers of maritime history, environmental history, scientific discoveries, and the lasting legacy of polar exploration.
Compiled by Nicholas J. Pisano
Breum, Martin. Cold Rush: the astonishing true story of the new quest for the Polar North 1st edition. Montreal:: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2018.
This work examines modern global interests in the polar regions, particularly the competitiveness among contemporary states to control polar territory. Through individual, historical case studies and blended narratives of arctic exploration and research, Martin Breum illuminates the modern geographic, scientific, economic and political intrigue humanity still possesses regarding the arctic regions.
Leane, Elizabeth. Antarctica in fiction: Imaginative Narratives of the Far South. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012
Elizabeth Leane links the influence and popularity of polar exploration in Antarctica to contemporary fictional literature in this work. Leane examines how authors have depicted Antarctica in popular literature as a world of mystery, fascination, adventure, danger, and peril.
Forster, Georg. A Voyage Round the World. Nicholas Thomas and Oliver Berghof, eds. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000
This primary source was composed by the German naturalist and geographer Georg Forster. Forster accompanied James Cook and the crew of Resolution on Cook’s second voyage to identify and chart the southernmost landmass. Forster’s work contains the logs and observations of Resolution as they navigated the Atlantic and Antarctic to the west of Cape Horn to Polynesia.
Jones, Huw Lewis. Imagining the Arctic: Heroism, Spectacle and Polar Exploration. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.
This book marks the intersection of practical polar exploration and the cultural heroism attributed to polar explorers. Blending the true stories and the heroic legacy of arctic explorers, Huw Lewis Jones delivers a scholarly approach to arctic exploration, the historiography of the many phases and periods of polar expeditions, and the popular imagination of the larger-than-life figures that shaped our image of the arctic.
Pennington, Piers. The Great Explorers: Stories of Men Who Discovered & Mapped the Unknown Areas of the World. Mitzi Bales, ed. London: Bloomsbury Books, 1979.
This general source and historical survey of explorers from throughout history celebrates the achievements in maritime and polar exploration from the age of sail to the early-20th century. This source introduces popular readers of maritime history, environmental history, and polar exploration to the famous names and expeditions that have shaped our understanding of the world through navigation, cartography, and scientific research.
McCann, Joy. Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020
Environmental historian Joy McCann takes us on a remarkable journey through the human understanding and comprehension of the Southern Ocean from Antarctica to the southern coasts of Australia, South America, and Africa. McCann emphasizes the cultural intrigue and cartography of the Southern Ocean and humanity’s ongoing struggle to understand its unpredictable transformation through the years.
Wallace, Sandra Neil, Rich Wallace, and Baron Specter. Bound by Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story. First edition. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2017.
A book for enthusiasts of polar exploration across all ages, Sandra and Rich Wallace recount the journey of the USS Jeannette on the 1879 expedition to the North Pole. This popular history is a story of survival, hardship, and determination, the foundations for the grit and grandeur embodied in the world of polar exploration.
Wright, Helen Saunders Smith. The Great White North: The Story of Polar Exploration from the Earliest Times to the Discovery of the Pole. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1910
One of the earliest twentieth-century sources and surveys of polar exploration documenting expeditions to polar regions from even before the age of sail through 1909. This source contextualizes how far we have come in the world of polar exploration and will enable readers to reflect on the challenges of our ancestral explorers and where we are in the world of polar exploration today.
John Savage Aboard Glacier in his dental office circa 1960-61
"It is several months after he graduates from dental school in 1959 when Johnny Savage reads Robert Rourke's book, Poor No More, while on Navy ship USS Glacier headed for Antarctica. Inspired to learn more about the secret to success, he embarks on a decades-long journey of self-discovery to find wealth, love, and happiness where his path eventually becomes intertwined with that of a black houseboy, Otis Ikner. After exploring the freezing land of Antarctica, Johnny takes a political stand fighting for equal rights on hot, sultry days in Atlanta, Georgia as he and his sidekick, Otis, endure dangerous and near-death challenges."
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