"Nansen was the Chuck Yeager of polar exploration."
—The New York Times Book Review
In 1893 Fridtjof Nansen set sail for the North Pole in the Fram, a ship specially designed to be frozen into the polar ice cap, withstand its crush-ing pressures, and travel north with the sea’s drift. Experts said that such a ship couldn’t be built and that the mission was tantamount to suicide. Farthest North, first published in 1897 to great popular appeal, is the stirring first-person account of the Fram and her historic voyage. Nansen tells of his expedition’s struggle against snowdrifts, ice floes, polar bears, scurvy, gnawing hunger, and the seemingly endless polar night that transformed the Fram into a "cold prison of loneliness." Once it became clear that the Fram could drift no farther, Nansen and crew member Hjalmar Johansen set out on a harrowing fifteen-month sledge journey to reach their destination by foot, which required them to share a sleeping bag of rotting reindeer fur and to feed the weaker sled dogs to the stronger ones. In the end, they traveled 146 miles farther north than any Westerner had gone before, representing the greatest single gain in polar exploration in four centuries. Farthest North is an unforgettable story that marks the beginning of the modern age of exploration and is a must-read for the armchair adventurer.
Born in Norway in 1861, Fridtjof Nansen was a renowned explorer, author, artist, athlete, oceanographer, and statesman. In 1922 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He died, a national hero, in 1930.
Jon Krakauer is the author of Into Thin Air, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Into the Wild. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Outside, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. He chose the books in the Modern Library Exploration series for their literary merit and historical significance—-and because he found them such a pleasure to read.