Synopses & Reviews
The epic history of the explorers and adventurers who risked -- and sometimes lost -- their lives in the quest to conquer and claim the Arctic.
Ever since approximately 325 BC, the Arctic has been the backdrop for tales of triumph and disaster, of hardship and horrors endured by those who were drawn to the northern latitudes. For centuries the major world powers sponsored teams of explorers seeking trade routes as well as the chance to claim new territories. These commercial interests brought them into contact with natives, who at first saw white crews die in the forbidding landscape they called home only to later succumb to disease, alcohol, and the drastic environmental changes wrought by global trade.
At a time when global warming is drastically altering the region, Arctic Obsession chronicles an age when the Arctic remained one of the last unconquered places on Earth.
"Feeding the public's unquenchable need for stories of adventure and exploration, Troubetzkoy brings a historian's touch to his chronicle of 2,000 years of forays into the Great White North. Sticking with a chronological review, Troubetzkoy (Imperial Legend; A Brief History of the Crimean War) gives accounts of countless Arctic quests, from fourth century Greek explorer Pytheas' mysterious trip to the unchartered land of 'Thule' to the 2007 Russian submarine voyage that planted a flag underwater 'at the precise terrestrial point of the North Pole.' Along the way, the author covers all the major Arctic explorers: the father-son Viking duo of Erik the Red and Leif Eriksson; the ill-fated Brit Henry Hudson; William Seward, the man who purchased Alaska from Russia for 'less than two cents an acre'; and Scandinavian Roald Amundsen, the first man to 'traverse' the Northwest Passage. But most striking are the amazing tales of life and death about lesser-known figures, such as the four Russian hunters who weathered six years stranded on an icy island that truly show off Troubetzkoy's ability as a researcher and a storyteller. But as harrowing as past tales of shipwrecks, blizzards, and starvation can be, it is in the book's penultimate chapter, which deals with the effect of global climate change on the Arctic, that the author truly unveils some haunting images of our future. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
More than an account of the human delusion and fortitude in penetrating one of the most inhospitable areas of the world, Arctic Obsession goes beyond the gripping history of northern exploration, of the searches for the Northwest and Northeast Passages. From early medieval times to the twenty-first century, what has been the beguiling attraction of the North? What manner of men were they who boldly ventured into those hostile and unpredictable regions, scores never to return home, swallowed up by the merciless north. Today x2019;s Arctic is developing into tomorrow x2019;s hot spot. Arctic Obsession dwells on contemporary issues besetting the most fragile part of our globe x2014; global warming and environmental, ecological and geo-political concerns. The book also provides an overview of the entire Arctic region, from Canada, Russia, and Alaska to Greenland, Iceland, and the North Sea.
About the Author
ALEXIS S. TROUBETZKOY was born in Paris, France of a Russian princely family. He is the author of Imperial Legend and of A Brief History of the Crimean War. He is a member of Association of Russian-American Scholars in the U.S.A. He resides in Toronto.