Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship

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9781402758614: Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship

Almost everyone knows the photo of John F. Kennedy, Jr., as a young boy, peering out from under his father’s desk in the Oval Office. But few realize that the desk itself plays a part in one of the world’s most extraordinary mysteries a dramatic tale that has never before been told in its full scope. Acclaimed historian Martin Sandler, a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, winner of seven Emmy® Awards, and author of more than 50 books, finally brings the entire story to light. This amazing high-seas adventure encompasses the search for the Northwest Passage in the early 1800s; a renowned explorer and his crew of 128 men who vanish during an 1845 expedition; 39 incredible, heroic attempted rescue missions; a ghost ship that drifts for more than 1,200 miles; a queen’s gratitude; and that famous desk. Fascinating rare photographs, paintings, engravings, and maps illustrate the book throughout.
It all began when, in one of the biggest news stories of the 19th century, Sir John Franklin and his ships the Erebus and the Terror disappeared while attempting to locate the fabled Northwest Passage. At the request of Franklin’s wife, Lady Jane, the first mission set out from England in hopes of finding him; many others followed in its wake, none successful. Among these was the Resolute, the finest vessel in Queen Victoria’s Navy. But in 1854 it became locked in Arctic ice and was abandoned by its captain. A year later, a Connecticut whaler discovered it 1,200 miles away drifting and deserted, a 600-ton ghost ship. He and his small crew boarded the Resolute, and steered it through a ferocious hurricane back to New London, Connecticut. The United States government then reoutfitted the ship and returned it to the thankful Queen. In 1879, when the Resolute was finally retired, she had the best timbers made into a desk for then-President Rutherford B. Hayes. It is still used by U.S. presidents today...one of the most celebrated pieces of furniture in the White House.

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From Publishers Weekly :

When Captain John Buddington of New London, Conn., set out on a whaling expedition in September 1855, he discovered the HMS Resolute, a British navy ship without a soul on board. How the Resolute made it from its British home port to Arctic Sea whaling territory to a central place in the White House's Oval Office makes up the core of this gripping historical adventure. Describing the explorers who set out to conquer the Arctic "Otherworld" as the "astronauts of their day," Pulitzer nominee Sandler creates a taut, absorbing story and a multi-faceted portrait of heroism that encompasses the overwhelming missteps, hardships and almost irrational tenacity that sprung from British naval secretary John Barrow's decision that Britain would discover the fabled Northwest Passage around the new world-a task he believed would take no longer than "a single season." That decision would be followed by 40 years of failed search-and-rescue missions-of which the Resolute was just one-after the initial 1845 voyage, led by Captain John Franklin, disappeared. The discovery of the Resolute represented both a vital clue in Franklin's disappearance and a haunting symbol of its nation's inexhaustible determination to make navigating the passage a uniquely British triumph. Sandler eloquently illustrates how the expedition became a new quest for the Holy Grail and provides an adventure story worthy of that tradition. 20 photos, 30 b/w illustrations.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist :

Though there are plenty of detailed works about specific Arctic expeditions, a general history suffices for some readers. Sandler surveys the famous quest for the Northwest Passage, which the British navy actively pursued from 1818 to the early 1850s, when Robert McClure and crew made the first complete passage. But his renown was then and has ever since been eclipsed by the man he and several other commanders were dispatched to find: Sir John Franklin, whose disastrous fate is relayed in Ice Blink, by Scott Cookman (2000). Among the many stories Sandler tells, the strangest concerns a ship, the Resolute, which was abandoned by another of Franklin's would-be rescuers. Somehow, the Resolute drifted back to civilization, was discovered by an American whaling ship, and was returned to an appreciative Britain obsessed with any trace of Franklin. Later, Queen Victoria had a desk hewn from the Resolute and given to President Rutherford Hayes; it today occupies the Oval Office. Endowed with dozens of images, Sandler's enticement to a popular topic in exploration history is well suited to library requirements. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Martin W. Sandler
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