—Guest post by David Burton
In a webinar featured on Quark Expeditions’ Polar Learning Channel, I presented my Top 10 Books about Polar explorers.
As a History Presenter and Assistant Expedition Leader with Quark Expeditions, I’ve read endless books on the Polar Regions—especially books about the heroic individuals who explored the North Pole and South Pole so long ago.
Here, in descending order, are my Top 10 Best Books about Polar Explorers.
While "best" is a subjective term, I can assure you these are all brilliant books to read, especially if you're considering a trip to the Arctic or Antarctic.
Be sure to listen to the Webinar recording to hear my full discussion—and learn a few little-known facts about these polar heroes.
My List of Ten Brilliant Books About Arctic Exploration:
10. No Man's Land: A History of Spitsbergen from its Discovery in 1596 to the Beginning of the Scientific Exploration of the Country, by Sir Martin Conway
This book follows the history of Spitsbergen, the largest island on the Svalbard archipelago, from its discovery to the start of its scientific exploration.
Discover Spitsbergen on the Spitsbergen in Depth: Big Islands, Big Adventure expedition.
9. The Last Viking: The Life of Road Amundsen, by Stephen Brown
Not only was Amundsen the first explorer to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage by boat, he also famously beat Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole.
You can discover the Northwest Passage for yourself on the Arctic Express Canada: Heart of the Northwest Passage expedition.
8. The First Crossing of Greenland, by Fridtjof Nansen
This is Fridtjof Nansen's account, in his own words, of his journey across Greenland's inland.
7. Ancient People of the Arctic, by Robert McGhee
This book examines the lives of the first Arctic explorers, the Palaeo-Eskimos.
6. The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery and Adventure in Antarctica's Peninsula Region, by Joan Boothe
This book recounts the Antarctic history, from Magellan's antarctic expedition to the 21st century.
5. Erebus: The Story of a Ship, by Michael Palin
Michael Palin brings to life the story of a ship that traveled further south than any human had ever before ventured before later disappearing into the depths of the Arctic waters.
4. Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written, by Lennard Bickel
The story of Mawson's incredible solo journey through Antarctica and his survival against all odds.
3. In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic, by Valerian Albanov
A Russian exploration team becomes ice bound when their ship is frozen into the polar ice cap for over a year, battling starvation, snowblindness, and polar bears.
2. Shackleton's Boat Journey, by Frank Worsley
Frank Worsley was the captain of the H.M.S. Endurance, the ship used for Shackleton's incredible voyage to Antarctica. When the ship was trapped and destroyed in the ice, Shackleton, Worsley, and the rest of their party survived for months on an ice floe before reaching a small island and sailing to safety.
1. The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Written by one of only three men to survive Robert Falcon Scott's notorious winter journey, this first-hand account tells the story of the fateful expedition.
Webinar Viewers' Favorite Books About Exploring the North and South Poles
Some listeners who tuned into the Webinar shared their own favorite books about polar explorers. Here they are:
- Recommended by Susan Reid: Shackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Tragedy of the Endurance Epic, by Lennard Bickel
- Recommended by Lydia Romer: In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette Kindle, by Hampton Sides
- Recommended by Beverly Sperry: An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor, by Michael Smith
- Recommended by Maartijn Subtle: A History of Polar Exploration, by David Mountfield
- Recommended by Harichand Tharwani: Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas, by Matt Lewis
Remember you can watch and listen to my webinar discussion of these books—learn more about the feats, challenges and tragedies experienced by the Polar heroes of yesteryear.