The Arctic Grail

The Quest for the North West Passage and the North Pole, 1818-1909

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Scores of nineteenth-century expeditions battled savage cold, relentless ice and winter darkness in pursuit of two great prizes: the quest for the elusive Passage linking the Atlantic and the Pacific and the international race to reach the North Pole. Pierre Berton's #1 best-selling book brings to life the great explorers: the pious and ambitious Edward Parry, the flawed hero John Franklin, ruthless Robert Peary and the cool Norwegian Roald Amundsen. He also credits the Inuit, whose tracking and hunting skills saved the lives of the adventurers and their men countless times.

These quests are peopled with remarkable figures full of passion and eccentricity. They include Charles Hall, an obscure printer who abandoned family and business to head to a frozen world of which he knew nothing; John Ross, whose naval career ended when he spotted a range of mountains that didn't exist; Frederick Cook, who faked reaching the North Pole; and Jane Franklin, who forced an expensive search for her missing husband upon a reluctant British government.

Pierre Berton, who won his first Governor General's award for The Mysterious North, here again gives us an important and fascinating history that reads like a novel as he examines the historic events of the golden age of Arctic exploration.


"There's enough riveting reading in The Arctic Grail to last until spring breakup."
The Globe and Mail

"A magnificent history…this should be the definitive study of Arctic exploration for years to come."
Kirkus Reviews

"Berton's book is a thoroughly gripping read."
The Province, Vancouver