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Documenting more than 2500 years of Arctic exploration, from the earliest seafarers of antiquity and the great naval and mercantile voyages in search of the Northwest and Northeast Passages, to the conquest of the North Pole and even beyond, A History of Arctic Exploration is the definitive account of expeditions made throughout the great Northern polar expanse. For the first time, it brings together the major explorers from both East and West to present one of the most detailed and beautifully illustrated surveys of the region's history ever published.
Drawing on many previously unseen charts, artworks and maps from major European museums, the extensive holdings of the Nurminen Foundation as well as private collections and archives, A History of Arctic Exploration reveals how this remote region was gradually explored and charted by men of supreme skill, courage and initiative, overcoming extreme conditions in almost incredible feats of endurance. Key figures such as Barents, Franklin, Nordenskiöld, Peary, Nansen, Stefánsson and Amundsen are discussed in depth, together with an evaluation of their achievements, showing how each contributed to our understanding of the Arctic. Many perished as the North defiantly held on to its secrets. ultimately proving that success could only be achieved by adapting to the extreme conditions, following the example of the indigenous peoples who had successfiilly inhabited the North for hundreds of years.
Today, the future of the Arctic is of global concern. In recent years, climate change and sovereignty disputes over territory have highlighted this worrying reality, drawing much attention to the region. Yet the Arctic has always been an inspiring and fascinating place, as well as a source of much human drama due to its harsh landscape and demanding conditions. Arctic expeditions were motivated by many different factors. including the pursuit of trade and commerce, knowledge, international dominance, individual fame, natural resources and scientific endeavour, but they can all be characterised by the uniquely human desire to push back frontiers. Collectively the accounts of such epic journeys form an absorbing and complex historical narrative, fiilly presented in this insightful and deeply resonant book.
Matti Lainema has travelled in Arctic regions, and collects literature concerning expeditions.
Juha Nurminen is head of the Nurminen Foundation in Helsinki. He has published several maritime works, and put on related exhibitions. He has been a co-writer of The History of Seafaring, The Routes of the Sea, The Northeast Passage, and Mare Balticum.