I loved this book; Henson has a wonderful, gentlemanly style with flashes of understated wit-- some of this humorous passages remind me of Mark Twain. From what I've gathered reading numerous other works on polar exploration, Henson also understates the incredible difficulties & challenges of life in Arctic climates. I really enjoyed his recounting of the efforts involved, and really did wish the book were longer or that I could read more by Matthew Henson (I've since seen references that he wrote an article a few years after this book, but haven't gotten it yet). His interactions with & attitudes toward the Eskimos are fascinating to read.
From an historical perspective, it's illuminating to realize just how invisible this man has been. I have read dozens of polar exploration books, seeing references to the 'big' names-- Peary, Greely, Brainard, Franklin, etc, along with their many, many assistants. But I never heard of Matthew Henson until I stumbled across this book while wandering in the forest of Google. It is deeply sad that this intelligent, highly capable man has been largely lost to history because of his race... as have thousands of others.
We have come a ways from then, thankfully. I'm glad Matthew Henson had been able to explore all his capabilities, instead of fading into clerking & obscurity after reaching the Arctic.
Aug 2, 2007
Henson Book is Wonderful
The book was great. It was a wonderful first hand account of an important time in American history. His descriptions of the arctic conditions and its hardships, gave me a much greater appreciation for his courage and intellect. Henson was a first class explorer and a first class man that has only recently received his due.
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