10 Best Books about Early Polar Explorers

September 10, 2020 Special Guest Author

—Guest post by David Burton

In my recent webinar featured on  Quark Expeditions’ Polar Learning Channel, I presented my Top 10 Books about Polar explorers. As a History Presenter and Assistant Expedition Leader with Quark Expeditions, I’ve read endless books on the Polar Regions—especially books about the heroic individuals who explored the Arctic and Antarctic so long ago.

Here, in descending order, are my Top 10 Best Books about Polar Explorers. While "best" is a subjective term, I can assure you these are all brilliant books to read, especially if you're considering a trip to the Polar Regions. Be sure to listen to the Webinar recording to hear my full discussion—and learn a few little-known facts about these polar heroes.

My List of Ten Brilliant Polar Books: 

10.  No Man's Land: A History of Spitsbergen from its Discovery in 1596 to the Beginning of the Scientific Exploration of the Country, by Sir Martin Conway (available hardback and paperback) 

9. The Last Viking: The Life of Road Amundsen, by  Stephen Brown (available EPub/Kindle, hardback and paperback)

8.  The First Crossing of Greenland, by Fridtjof Nansen (available EPub/Kindle, hardback and paperback). 

7. Ancient People of the Arctic, by Robert McGhee (available in hardback and paperback)

6. The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery and Adventure in Antarctica's Peninsula Region, by Joan Boothe (available hardback and paperback)

5. Erebus: The Story of a Ship, by Michael Palin (available EPub/Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible Audiobook)

4. Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written, by  Lennard Bickel (available hardback and paperback)

3. In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic, by Valerian Albanov  (available EPub/Kindle, hardback and paperback)

2. Shackleton's Boat Journey, by Frank Worsley (available EPub/Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible Audiobook)

1. The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (available EPub/Kindle, hardback, paperback and Audible Audiobook).

Some listeners who tuned into the Webinar shared their own favourite books about polar explorers. Here they are:

  • Recommended by Susan Reid: Shackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Tragedy of the Endurance Epic, by Lennard Bickel 
  • Recommended by Lydia Romer: In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette Kindle, by Hampton Sides
  • Recommended by Beverly Sperry: An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor, by Michael Smith
  • Recommended by Maartijn Subtle: A History of Polar Exploration, by David Mountfield
  • Recommended by Harichand Tharwani: Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas, by Matt Lewis

Remember you can watch and listen to my webinar discussion of these books—learn more about the feats, challenges and tragedies experienced by the Polar heroes of yesteryear.

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