Book ID: CBB695538374

Polaris: The Chief Scientist's Recollections of the American North Pole Expedition, 1871-73 (2016)


Bessels, Emil (Author)
Barr, William (Translator)

Barr, William
University of Calgary Press

Publication Date: 2016
Physical Details: 672
Language: English

Emil Bessels was chief scientist and medical officer on George Francis Hall's ill-fated American North Pole Expedition of 1871-73 on board the ship Polaris. Bessels' book, translated from the German in its entirety for the first time, is one of only two first-hand accounts of the voyage, and it is the only first-hand account of the experiences of the group which stayed with the ship after it ran afoul of arctic ice, leaving some of its crew stranded on an ice floe. Bessels and the others spent a second winter on shore in Northwest Greenland, where the drifting, disabled ship ran aground. Hall died suspiciously during the first winter, and Bessels is widely suspected of having poisoned him. Bill Barr has uncovered new evidence of a possible motive. Polaris includes considerable detail which does not appear elsewhere. It is the only account of the expedition which includes rich scientific information about anthropology, geology, flora and fauna. It provides much more information than other accounts on the Greenland settlements Polaris visited on her way north. Bessels' is the only published first-hand account of the second wintering of part of the ship's complement on shore at Polaris House, near Littleton Island, and of that party's attempt at travelling south by boat until picked up by the Scottish whaler Ravenscraig. The same applies to the cruise aboard the whaler, Arctic, after Bessels and his companions transferred to that ship. Essential reading for researchers and students of arctic exploration history, this book is also a compelling read for the interested general reader.

Reviewed By

Review Martin P. M. Weiss (2020) Review of "Polaris: The Chief Scientist's Recollections of the American North Pole Expedition, 1871-73". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 193-194). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Cronon, William
Staley, Richard A.
Loo, Tina
Keller, Richard C.
Morgan, Philip
Brush, Grace
Journal of Medical Biography
Journal of Historical Geography
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Journal for Maritime Research: Britian, the Sea and Global History
Book History
University of Wisconsin at Madison
University of Oklahoma Press
Scarecrow Press
University of Oklahoma
Johns Hopkins University
Museum Tusculanum Press
Travel; exploration
Scientific expeditions
Franklin, John
Winchell, Newton Horace
Custer, George Armstrong
Wied, Maximilian, Prinz von
Koettlitz, Reginald
Hell, Maximilian
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century
21st century
Arctic regions
United States
North America
Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk
International Polar Year (1882-1883)

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