Farthest North (Paperback)

By Fridtjof Nansen, Roland Huntford (Introduction by)

Modern Library, 9780375754722, 544pp.

Publication Date: August 1, 1999



In 1893, Fridjtof Nansen set sail in the Fram, a ship specially designed and built to be frozen into the polar ice cap, withstand its crushing pressures, and travel with the sea's drift closer to the North Pole than anyone had ever gone before. Experts said such a ship couldn't be built and that the voyage was tantamount to suicide.

This brilliant first-person account, originally published in 1897, marks the beginning of the modern age of exploration. Nansen vividly describes the dangerous voyage and his 15-month-long dash to the North Pole by sledge. Farthest North is an unforgettable tale and a must-read for any armchair explorer.

About the Author

Fridjtof Nansen (1861-1930) was an Arctic explorer, scientist, diplomat, and humanitarian. Born in Norway in 1861, Nansen studied zoology at the University of Christiania (now Oslo). He led the first expedition to cross the Greenland ice cap in 1888, and in 1893 undertook a new adventure to sail to the New Siberian Islands from Norway. The journey took him and colleague Frederik Hjalmar Johansen farther north than anyone in recorded history, a three-year voyage documented in his 1897 book Farthest North. In 1922, Nansen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts following World War I: heading Norway's delegation to the League of Nations, overseeing the repatriation of war prisoners, advocating for refugees, and many more humanitarian causes. In addition to writing several accounts of his experiences in oceanography, he also wrote books dealing with affairs of the state, including Norway and the Union with Sweden, Russia and Peace, Armenia and the Near East, and Through the Caucasus to the Volga. Roland Huntford is the former Scandinavian correspondent for the London Observer. He is the bestselling author of two critically acclaimed biographies of Ernest Shackleton and Fridtjof Nansen as well as the novel Sea of Darkness. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Praise For Farthest North

"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.