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A Wretched and Precarious Situation

In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier

David Welky (Author)

Overview | Formats
 

A Booklist Best Literary Travel Book (2017) and Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book (2016)
“A penetrating study of human character in a challenging environment. . . . [David Welky’s] seamless narrative, chilling at times and always thought-provoking, transports the reader to a time when the Arctic was virtually as harsh and inaccessible a place as the Moon or Mars.” —Natural History

From a snow-swept hill in the ice fields northwest of Greenland, famed Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary spots a line of mysterious peaks dotting the horizon. In 1906, he names that distant, uncharted territory “Crocker Land.” Years later, two of Peary’s disciples, George Borup and Donald MacMillan, take the brave steps Peary never did: with a team of amateur adventurers and intrepid native guides, they endeavor to reach this unknown land and fill in the last blank space on the globe. What follows is hardship and mishap the likes of which none of the explorers could possibly have imagined. From howling blizzards and desperate food shortages to crime and tragedy, the explorers experience a remarkable journey of endurance, courage, and hope. Set in one of the world’s most inhospitable places, A Wretched and Precarious Situation is an Arctic tale unlike any other.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • November 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35482-9
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 528 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverA Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier

    Hardcover

Endorsements & Reviews

“Welky is a superb writer, and he mines the interpersonal relationships of the expedition’s participants – the loyalties, the friendships grown or torn asunder, the cultural insensitivities – as effectively as he describes the travel, the exploration into unknown territory, and the constant flirtation with death at the hands of the elements.” — The Arctic Book Review

“What a book!....Excellent writing that combines some of the serious novelist’s techniques with information that can only come from hundreds of hours with long-forgotten diaries, letters and newspaper accounts.” — Bill Streever, Dallas Morning News

“Polar historians…will be grateful to have the Crocker Land expedition properly documented.” — New York Times Book Review

“Unravels the strange story of one of the world’s greatest discoveries that never was.” — Simon Worrall, National Geographic

“A penetrating study of human character in a challenging environment....His seamless narrative, chilling at times and always thought-provoking, transports the reader to a time when the Arctic was virtually as harsh and inaccessible a place as the Moon or Mars.” — Natural History

“Welky's fast-moving, evocative narrative paints a vivid portrait of the men who, along with their Inuit companions, risked their lives for ‘dreams of lost continents awaiting discovery.’” — Explorer’s Journal

“"Drawing on extensive expedition diaries....This is a classic explorer’s narrative, pitting ambition against the limits of endurance."” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Making magnificent use of documents and recreating the years-long Arctic sojourn with the drama and immediacy of a tension-filled adventure novel, [Welky] conjures a romantic quest emblematic of the rugged manliness of the time…vastly entertaining.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“David Welky reveals in this engrossing account....the classic litany of illness, privation and howling blizzards, [and] a singularly bizarre finding about [polar explorer Robert] Peary's original sighting.” — Nature

“Evenhanded and thoroughly researched….This book fills a significant and often overlooked piece of the Arctic exploration puzzle. Arctic enthusiasts, armchair adventurers, and dreamers of lost worlds will find much to appreciate.” — Library Journal