But one person remained undaunted: Elisha Kent Kane, the unlikely captain of the ill-fated ship whose previous trip to the remote and mysterious Arctic had made him one of the most famous men in the United States. Small of stature, poetic, and sickly, Kane was nonetheless determined to fulfill his voyage’s mission: to find survivors of the celebrated Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin, and to prove the existence of a legendary Open Polar Sea that circled the North Pole. Before William Peary and Frederick Cook, there was Kane, the man who set the stage for the golden age of Arctic exploration that would follow. Under his calm yet unrelenting leadership, the crew of the Advance spent two years exploring the frozen realm of the Arctic Archipelago, going farther north than any expedition had before. But when it was finally time to return home, the ice had other ideas.
“Farthest North” tells the little-known story of one of the most gripping Arctic expeditions of all time. Despite sickness, mutiny, gnawing hunger, and the malevolent cold, Kane and his men made discoveries that influenced theories about the Ice Age and developed survival strategies that would be the model for generations of future explorers.
In the tradition of Apsley Cherry-Girard’s classic book “The Worst Journey in the World,” this tale of survival and discovery captures polar exploration at its best—which is to say, its most miserable. For them, the pain. For us, the pleasure.
* * *
Todd Balf is a former senior editor at “Outside” magazine and the author of “The Last River,” “Major,” and “The Darkest Jungle,” the bestselling account of a disastrous mid-nineteenth-century U.S. Navy expedition that was searching Panama’s Darién rainforest for a canal route to connect the Atlantic and Pacific.
* * *
Praise for "Farthest North":
“Before there was Amundsen, before there was Shackleton, Nansen, Peary, and a host of lesser ice-frosted glory hounds, there was Elisha Kent Kane, quite possibly the most colorful, literate, intelligent, and romantic explorer ever to walk the floes. Kane, a sensation in his day, has been all but forgotten. But here, in this brisk and engrossing survival narrative, Todd Balf restores Kane to his rightful place as one of America's most fascinating folk heroes.”
— Hampton Sides, bestselling author of "Blood and Thunder" and "Ghost Soldiers"
Move over, Shackleton: there’s a new Arctic-expedition hero in town, and his name is Elisha Kane. I couldn’t put down Todd Balf’s thrilling story of Kane’s adventure, not just because it’s a jaw-dropping chronicle of human toughness and ingenuity, but also because it provides rich lessons for us all about leadership, limits, and what it means to push the boundary of the possible. "Farthest North" is an instant classic, richly deserving of a place on the shelf beside "Endurance."
— Daniel Coyle, bestselling author of "Lance Armstrong’s War" and "Hardball"