Synopses & Reviews
Almost everyone knows the photo of John F. Kennedy, Jr., as a young boy, peering out from under his fathers desk in the Oval Office. But few realize that the desk itself plays a part in one of the worlds most extraordinary mysteriesa dramatic tale that has never before been told in its full scope. Acclaimed historian Martin Sandler, a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, winner of seven Emmy® Awards, and author of more than 50 books, finally brings the entire story to light. This amazing high-seas adventure encompasses the search for the Northwest Passage in the early 1800s; a renowned explorer and his crew of 128 men who vanish during an 1845 expedition; 39 incredible, heroic attempted rescue missions; a ghost ship that drifts for more than 1,200 miles; a queens gratitude; and that famous desk. Fascinating rare photographs, paintings, engravings, and maps illustrate the book throughout.
It all began when, in one of the biggest news stories of the 19th century, Sir John Franklin and his ships the Erebus and the Terror disappeared while attempting to locate the fabled Northwest Passage. At the request of Franklins wife, Lady Jane, the first mission set out from England in hopes of finding him; many others followed in its wake, none successful. Among these was the Resolute, the finest vessel in Queen Victorias Navy. But in 1854 it became locked in Arctic ice and was abandoned by its captain. A year later, a Connecticut whaler discovered it 1,200 miles away drifting and deserted, a 600-ton ghost ship. He and his small crew boarded the Resolute, and steered it through a ferocious hurricane back to New London, Connecticut. The United States government then reoutfitted the ship and returned it to the thankful Queen. In 1879, when the Resolute was finally retired, she had the best timbers made into a desk for then-President Rutherford B. Hayes. It is still used by U.S. presidents today...one of the most celebrated pieces of furniture in the White House.
"When Captain John Buddington of New London, Conn., set out on a whaling expedition in September 1855, he discovered the HMS Resolute, a British navy ship without a soul on board. How the Resolute made it from its British home port to Arctic Sea whaling territory to a central place in the White House's Oval Office makes up the core of this gripping historical adventure. Describing the explorers who set out to conquer the Arctic 'Otherworld' as the 'astronauts of their day,' Pulitzer nominee Sandler creates a taut, absorbing story and a multi-faceted portrait of heroism that encompasses the overwhelming missteps, hardships and almost irrational tenacity that sprung from British naval secretary John Barrow's decision that Britain would discover the fabled Northwest Passage around the new world-a task he believed would take no longer than 'a single season.' That decision would be followed by 40 years of failed search-and-rescue missions-of which the Resolute was just one-after the initial 1845 voyage, led by Captain John Franklin, disappeared. The discovery of the Resolute represented both a vital clue in Franklin's disappearance and a haunting symbol of its nation's inexhaustible determination to make navigating the passage a uniquely British triumph. Sandler eloquently illustrates how the expedition became a new quest for the Holy Grail and provides an adventure story worthy of that tradition. 20 photos, 30 b/w illustrations." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Almost everyone knows the photo of John F. Kennedy, Jr. as a young boy, peering out from under his father's desk in the Oval Office. But few realize that the desk itself plays a part in one of the world's most extraordinary mysteries--a dramatic tale that has never before been told in its full scope.