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Exerting a magnetic pull our imaginations, the poles have been the object of many gripping first-hand accounts of exploration – literally, journeys to the ends of the earth

A passport to the last wildnernesses of Earth, this is the definitive collection of first-hand accounts of polar exploration – 50 true stories of intrepid travel through the desolate and dangerous regions of both Arctic and Antarctic.

Beginning with Sir John Franklin’s starvation trek through Alaska in 1821 and ending with Vassilli Gorshkovsky’s northern expedition aboard a creaking ice-breaker in 2005, these true stories encompass every kind of triumph and disaster.

The inspired but doomed courage of Captain Scott, and the marvellous leadership of Shackleton are well known, but here are many other stories including:

The Bear, by Frederick A. Cook, 1908

Meeting with Polar Eskimos by Knud Rasmussen, 1932

By Dog-Sledge to the Top of the World, by Wally Herbert, 1968

Hell on Earth by Reinhold Messner, 1989-90

Solo by Pen Haddow, 2003

And many more.