“True Adventure Thrills” Indeed!
Ever a fan of arctic and polar exploration, the first chapters of this book, while captivating, had me wondering when we’d get to the “good stuff”. Of course, the descriptions of Wilkins’ work as a war photographer were harrowing stories of the unique ability the man in escaping danger and staying alive.
But then we get to “Ultima Thule”, and my eyes rarely strayed from the pages of this book, which translated into one long sleepless night! Nasht skillfully describes Wilkins and Eielson’s survival in the arctic, fashioning sleds from parts of their shattered plane. Where most explorers would have called it day, Wilkins returned back to the arctic in a plane, being the first to cross the wide ocean in a plane. What is amazing is that they went 2,200 miles and crossed ten time zones!
Wilkins had also crossed paths with many more well-known explorers: Byrd, Amundsen, Shackelton, Stefansson. In so doing, we get a glimpse as the age of explorers slowly faded away, as more and more of the map was filled in. But in his explorations, Wilkins also opened the door to deep-sea exploration, and the study of weather (especially how the poles affect global climate). His forays into ESP is pure bunk and a waste of ink in my opinion.
This book did drag from time to time, as mentioned above. But yet I wanted to read more, to discover what the man would do next, and to read with a smile how he was finally delivered posthumously to his ultimate goal, the north pole.
Terrific book, highly recommended for fans of arctic exploration and survival.