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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.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-04-23 Robert Peary is remembered as the intrepid explorer who successfully reached the North Pole in 1909. Far less celebrated is his companion, Matthew Henson, a black man from Maryland. A Negro Explorer at the North Pole: The Autobiography of Matthew Henson, first published in 1912 and now re-issued, tells this unsung hero's story in his own words. Henson, who was paid only minimum wages throughout two decades of his association with Peary, was indispensable to the famous explorer's journey; he learned the language of the Eskimos, was an expert dog-sled driver and even built the sleds. But after they reached the North Pole, Peary stole the black man's photographs, barely spoke to him and refused to recognize his importance to the expedition. This edition contains rare photos of the journey and an introduction by S. Allen Counter, author of North Pole Legacy: Black, White, and Eskimo ( May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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