'In the Kingdom of Ice,' by Hampton Sides | Star Tribune

August 2, 2014 7:02 PM

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'In the Kingdom of Ice,' by Hampton Sides | Star Tribune

In the late 19th century the North Pole was the subject of much interest and mystery, proposed by even eminent geographers to be a temperate paradise warmed by air expelled from the core of the Earth or by tropical currents. In search of this Shangri-La, or at least a polar shortcut from the Americas to Eastern Europe, the USS Jeannette set out in 1879, backed by the sensationalistic New York Herald, aided by the U.S. Navy and captivating public interest. This expedition is the subject of “In the Kingdom of Ice,” a fascinating new book by Hampton Sides.

Sides preludes the voyage with an exuberant depiction of America’s Gilded Age, an era that belongs to men with big ideas, stout hearts and deep pockets. We get to know Augustus Petermann, whose theory of an open Polar Sea catches the public imagination; newspaper tycoon James Gordon Bennett, who kno...

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