Barrow's Boys - Fergus FlemingLondon: Granta Books, 1998, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper.
Contains: Chronological tables ; Black & white plates; Maps; List of sources; References;
From the cover: “To what purpose could a portion of our naval force be, at any one time, but more especially in time of profound peace, more honourably or more usefully employed than in completing those details of geographical and hydrographical science of which the grand outlines have been sketched in by Cook… and others of your own countrymen?
So wrote John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty, in 1816. At that time the atlas was littered with blanks. What was at the North Pole? Was there a North-West Passage? What lay at the heart of Africa? Did Antarctica exist? Barrow decided that these and other questions should be answered. To this end, he launched the most ambitious programme of exploration the world had ever seen. Between 1816 and 1845 his hand-picked teams of elite naval officers scoured the globe’s empty spaces. Often at odds with each other and working in utterly surreal conditions — cocked hats in the Arctic, frock coats in the Sahara, reindeer-drawn sledges at the North Pole — they entered a void and, with great hardship, either conquered it or died in the attempt. Their lack of preparation, allied to Barrow’s insouciant way with maps, makes this a tale of absurdly dangerous comedy as well as harrowing personal endeavour.
Fergus Fleming has written about tragic events with a gift for irony that draws the reader irresistibly into disaster again and again. He brings the map to life: Franklin, Ross, Parry and Crozier, all names of desolate places — and all placed there at great cost.”