The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration And American Culture

Paperback | October 24, 2014

byMichael F. Robinson

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In the late 1800s, “Arctic Fever” swept across the nation as dozens of American expeditions sailed north to the Arctic to find a sea route to Asia and, ultimately, to stand at the North Pole. Few of these missions were successful, and many men lost their lives en route. Yet failure did little to dampen the enthusiasm of new explorers or the crowds at home that cheered them on. Arctic exploration, Michael F. Robinson argues, was an activity that unfolded in America as much as it did in the wintry hinterland. Paying particular attention to the perils facing explorers at home, The Coldest Crucible examines their struggles to build support for the expeditions before departure, defend their claims upon their return, and cast themselves as men worthy of the nation’s full attention. In so doing, this book paints a new portrait of polar voyagers, one that removes them from the icy backdrop of the Arctic and sets them within the tempests of American cultural life. 

With chronological chapters featuring emblematic Arctic explorers—including Elisha Kent Kane, Charles Hall, and Robert Peary—The Coldest Crucible reveals why the North Pole, a region so geographically removed from Americans, became an iconic destination for discovery.

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In the late 1800s, “Arctic Fever” swept across the nation as dozens of American expeditions sailed north to the Arctic to find a sea route to Asia and, ultimately, to stand at the North Pole. Few of these missions were successful, and many men lost their lives en route. Yet failure did little to dampen the enthusiasm of new explorers o...

Michael F. Robinson is associate professor of history at the University of Hartford.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:October 24, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022621415X

ISBN - 13:9780226214153

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgements xi

Introduction 1

Chapter One 15
  Building and Arcitc Traditon

Chapter Two 31
  A Man of Science and Humanity
  Elisha Kent Kane

Chapter Three 55
  An Arctic Divided
  Isaac Hayes and Charles Hall

Chapter Four 83
  Dying Like Men
  Adolphus Greely

Chapter Five 107
  The New Machines
  Walter Wellman and Robert Peary

Chapter Six 133
  Savage Campaigns
  Robert Peary and Frederick Cook

Conclusion 159

Notes 165
Bibliography 181
 Index 199

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Winner of the 2008 Book Prize by the Forum for the History of Science in America