On 1 September 1909, American explorer Frederick Cook caused one of the biggest sensations in exploration history when, after a year with no word from him, news arrived that he had not only survived his Arctic expedition but had become the first person to ever reach the North Pole.
Cook was instantly transformed into one of the heroes of the age. With his boat due to arrive in Copenhagen a few days later, journalists from across Europe scrambled to get there in time to meet him.
One of them was Philip Gibbs, an obscure British reporter whose chance encounter in a Copenhagen cafe led to an exclusive interview with Cook before he reached land. But the interview left Gibbs doubting the explorer's story, and so he decided to gamble his career and credibility by making it clear he thought Cook was lying. And so began a frantic few days when Cook was showered with accolades while Gibbs tried to prove his claim was a fraud.
The Explorer and the Journalist is the extraordinary story of a high-stakes confrontation from which only one of Gibbs and Cook would emerge with their reputation intact.
Richard Evans is a former journalist, having written for The Times, the Guardian, the BBC, among others. He is the author of From the Frontline: The Extraordinary Life of Sir Basil Clarke (THP, 2013)
"A great story, with great characters, and beautifully told."
– Tim Harford, author of How to Make the World Add Up