THE NORTH POLE/ROBERT E. PEARY


Historians  still ponder the question of whether either explorers Robert E. Peary or Dr. Frederick A. Cook reached the North Pole! It remains a debatable point among scientists and historians  but after reading Peary’s unabridged personal account, The NORTH POLE first published in 1910, I am in no mood to quibble. Peary’s detailed narrative and the presence of his esteemed scientific team is most convincing. The volume includes his own multiple detailed calculations of April 6, 1909 offering his proof of success.

The NORTH POLE is more than a story of the attainment itself but offers insight into the determination of a man who on four previous attempts failed to reach his goal. Then in 1908 at age fifty-two, he again set forth for the Arctic aboard the Roosevelt, a specifically designed ship for approaching the Polar Ice Cap.  The expedition was backed by a group of  wealthy supporters under the banner of the Peary Arctic Club with the full-throated endorsement of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Peary’s detailed narrative offers the reader great  insight into the Inuit natives of northern Greenland. By befriending the Inuits on his previous four sojourns to the north he  acquired the expertise to survive in the Arctic. Attaining the pole would never have been possible without  the knowledge of the Inuit and their dogs.  Four Inuits were with Peary when the prize was won. Dozens of others made up the advance support parties establishing igloo supply camps across nearly 400 miles of  treacherous ice under the most formidable conditions anywhere on planet earth.

The controversy surrounding Peary’s conquering the North Pole remains. You may  draw your own conclusions. However, for the reader of this epic story of man against nature,  standing upon actual true north is almost irrelevant to the complexities and heroism of the journey.

If Arctic exploration is of interest to you I also highly recommend another book on an earlier North Pole attempt, Hampton Sides Into The Kingdom of Ice.  ( See gordonsgoodreads.com) If you travel to Maine and seek further insight into Peary, a trip to Peary’s home on Eagle Island, reached by ferry-boat from Freeport, is a very worthwhile visit. Peary is a Bowdoin College graduate and moved to Maine from Pennsylvania in his youth.  There is also an excellent Peary Museum on the Bowdoin Campus.

Note: While reading The NORTH POLE I found it most helpful to Google a detailed map of  Ellesmere Island and Northern Greenland. A map, which is not included in the book, adds tremendous perspective to Peary’s narrative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT/ HEMINGWAY

Playing catch-up on some of my overlooked Hemingway reads.  To Have and Have Not is quick and worthwhile.  A classic example of the use of dialogue as the story telling vehicle.  Set in the Florida Keys and Cuba, so much a part of the Hemingway lifestyle. Little wonder he tells the story  so well. Smuggling is not a good business or a lifestyle with a future.  Few happy endings.

Enjoy this short fiction.  No more than a lengthy one or two sitting read.

Search gordonsgoodreads for other Hemingway classics. It is the most sought after subject on this blog.

 

 

 

EAST TO THE DAWN/ AMELIA EARHART BIOGRAPHY/A VERY DIFFERENT STORY

Forget for a moment the doomed 1937 round the world flight and all of the continuing speculation that continues to this day.  Set aside temporarily that Earhart was the first woman to solo across the Atlantic. Put in perspective all of her pioneering accomplishments as the world’s most prominent woman in aviation. Then settle in to read this marvelous perspective of a truly remarkable person.

Biographer Susan Butler got the Amelia Earhart story right in 1997 when she completed ten years of research and published EAST to the Dawn, The Life of Amelia Earhart. It was the sixtieth anniversary of Earhart’s fateful last flight. Of course the aviation story is extremely well told but the real story is how Amelia Earhart used her celebrity and incredible energy to universally advance the cause of women during the 1920s and 1930s.

Amelia the social worker, the world-wide lecturer on behalf of women’s rights and the establishment at Perdue University of a permanent foundation designed to advance women in the profession of aviation engineering and development.   One can only imagine her further impact had not her life ended in tragedy somewhere in the Pacific trying desperately to find tiny Howland Island  on the next to last leg of her round the world flight.

Amelia Earhart’s  celebrity was earned.  She came from Atkinson Kansas, the daughter of an alcoholic father  whose many jobs took the family east and west.  Her formal education was thwarted but she persisted, became a social worker and by sheer chance became exposed to aviation. Once hooked she never looked back. All along her rise to unimaginable celebrity she never once forgot that she represented professional career opportunities for all women.

Amelia earned her just celebrity and acclaim as an aviator but had she lived, understanding her as Butler’s book reflects, her contributions to society and women’s advancement would have been far greater than being the first woman to fly around the globe.   Having read Butler’s book I am convinced Amelia Earhart would have  unquestionably made that her lasting legacy.

In 1932 the American Women’s Association presented Margaret Sanger its first annual award.  A year later the second annual award was presented to Amelia. The presentation to Amelia was made by Dr. Lillian Gilbreth, the renowned industrial psychologist.  In her closing remarks, Gilbreth chose these words: Miss Earhart has shown us that all God’s chillun got wings.

This is the 80th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s last flight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

POINT OF CONTACT/A JACK RYAN, JR. NOVEL/ MIKE MADEN

Author Mike Maden has stepped in to write the latest in the TOM  CLANCY series. Mark Greaney has written the majority of the books since Tom Clancy died in 2013. Greaney also co-wrote with Clancy LOCKED ON and THREAT VECTOR.

POINT OF CONTACT is right on target with the Clancy series timeliness. The story line incorporates North Korea and the illicit sale of technology and materials through the Chinese and other nefarious back alley characters including of course, Bulgarians!

As readers of this blog are well aware, I am a long time Clancy fan. However, POINT OF CONTACT is a little thin by comparison, but nonetheless, fans may wish to add it to their list. There is still plenty of action though you will find the gripping suspense a little lacking.

 

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW/ A MUST SUMMER READ

A friend recommended Amor Towles first novel Rules of Civility. I loved the book. (See gordonsgoodreads). She then alerted me to the release of Towle’s second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow.  To say I enjoyed the book would be a gross understatement of my enthusiasm for this author.

It  would be an  injustice to the reader if I even attempted to steal Towle’s story.  Let me simply  place a prominent Russian Count from the world of former privilege under house arrest in the elegant Metropol hotel in the center of Moscow. Now, a few lines of Towle’s prose:

For several days, in fact, he had been fending off a state of restlessness. On his regular descent to the lobby, he caught himself counting the steps. As he browsed the headlines in his favorite chair, he found that he was lifting his hands to twirl the tips of moustaches that were no longer there. He found that he was walking through the doors of the Piazza for a 12:01 lunch.  And at 1:35 he climbed the 110 steps to his room, calculating the minutes until he could come downstairs for a drink.

Then, the girl in the yellow dress appears and the Count’s world changes forever.

Enjoy. I promise you will to the fullest!

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TRAJECTORY/RICHARD RUSSO/SHORT FICTION

Trajectory, Richard Russo’s latest literary offering,  is not what the reader might expect after reading Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs or Everybody’s Fool.  In Trajectory Russo offers four separate works of short fiction all with unique characters in disparate plots. Of the four, I liked  Intervention best, perhaps because it is set in Russo’s familiar home state, Maine.

Short Fiction is an open-ended read as compared with the short story. Nice for Russo to demonstrate his talent in this genre but if I were picking up Russo for the first time I would  choose from among his stack of wonderful novels. (see gordonsgoodreads.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRISHAM/THE WHISTLER/ANOTHER SUMMER THRILLER

This may be the strangest whistle-blower case ever!  No problem for John Grisham in plotting THE WHISTLER. Lawyers(of course), rogues, Indian Casinos, and Florida.

A most worthy heroine pitted against a female corrupt judge.  The Florida Panhandle becomes the perfect setting for crime and corruption with a whistle-blower protected by tiers of wannabes in on the action of a big, big payout.   That’s enough  from me.  No one tells this tale better than Grisham.  Pair up with Grisham’s Camino Island ( see gordonsgoodreads.com) and you  can cover half the state of Florida and be off with two great fun summer reads.