“Larson writes in an engaging and fast-moving manner in reacquainting us with those heroes of yesterday who’ve slipped into the historical shadows.”


This is the latest offering by the Pulitzer Prize winning author for History for The Summer of the Gods. The year 1909 offers 3 great explorations being conducted on the farthest and highest regions of our planet. The race to be the first to the North and South Poles, plus the magnetic poles, and the quest to climb the highest mountains, which is referred to as the third pole are the subject here.

In this year Peary and Crook are both competing to be the first to the North Pole, in the south it is Ernest Shackleton, and the Italian Duke of the Abruzzi, who also had previously attempted the North Pole, has now set his sights on the Himalayas, the roof of the world, to climb higher than anyone has before.

The book details all the efforts, and the success at the magnetic and geographic North poles along with all the controversy surrounding who actually reached the geographic pole first, Shackleton achieving the record for furthest South while Australian Douglas Mawson will reach the magnetic South Pole and the fascinating Duke of the Abruzzi who will begin the attempt to reach the roof of the world.

A final chapter will fill in the final outcomes of the attempts at the South Pole, including the tragedy of Scott, and the amazing trip of Shackleton on his ship the Endurance, and the final first steps on the top,of the world.

While at times the story is slowed down by the extensive attention to detail, it is a great window into the spirit of adventure and scientific inquiry, which led men to achieve things which at the time were thought to be impossible.

A fascinating history.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 31st May 2018

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Richard Franco