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Publisher's Summary

The enthralling and often harrowing history of the adventurers who searched for the Northwest Passage, the holy grail of 19th-century British exploration.

After the triumphant end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the British took it upon themselves to complete something they had been trying to do since the 16th century: find the fabled Northwest Passage, a shortcut to the Orient via a sea route over northern Canada. For the next 35 years, the British Admiralty sent out expedition after expedition to probe the ice-bound waters of the Canadian Arctic in search of a route, and then, after 1845, to find Sir John Franklin, the Royal Navy hero who led the last of these Admiralty expeditions and vanished into the maze of channels, sounds, and icy seas with two ships and 128 officers and men.

In The Man Who Ate His Boots, Anthony Brandt tells the whole story of the search for the Northwest Passage, from its beginnings early in the age of exploration through its development into a British national obsession to the final sordid, terrible descent into scurvy, starvation, and cannibalism. Sir John Franklin is the focus of the book but it covers all the major expeditions and a number of fascinating characters, including Franklin's extraordinary wife, Lady Jane, in vivid detail.

The Man Who Ate His Boots is a rich and engaging work of narrative history that captures the glory and the folly of this ultimately tragic enterprise.

©2010 Anthony Brandt (P)2010 Random House

Critic Reviews

“Tony Brandt is a superb and profound writer who leads us through a tale of such hardship you feel as if you've been aboard ship with them. It’s no small feat to use a bit of history to illuminate the future, but Brandt pulls it off. This is narrative history at its absolute gripping best.” (Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm)
“Heroism tinged with scandal, high adventure beset by unbearable suffering...A sterling examination of a national obsession that tracks the finds as well as the futilities of more than 60 years of harrowing Arctic exploration.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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They don't get any better than this

This book is amazing. This is the best audiobook I have ever owned, out of roughly 200. I have listened to it 20 times because there is so much there. Listen to it while looking at a map of Northern Canada.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Good, but not great

Having just finished Kingdom of Ice, I was on an arctic exploration kick, so I got this one. It was a good enough book, and the narrator did a great job. It was just hard to follow much of it due to not being able to see the maps they were talking about. I think a hard copy would be better for this one because you could see the islands, straights, and other areas being explored.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 03-20-10

lots of very cold winters

Informative survey of the British Empire's drive to find the Northwest Passage. Good detail on the personalities as well as the travails of exploration in the Arctic. Terrific British narration by Simon Vance.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Starts off slow.

probably the first quarter of the book is a very general description of the English navy of the late 1700's. it describes very many journeys in no great detail, to include when the "man ate his own boots". as the book moves on it gains focus and the stories go into more detail.
its overall not as good as Shackleton's book Endurance, but not many books can be that good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Arctic quest

This is a book that gives you all you can need about arctic Exploration with Franklin focus. Really interesting and more exciting than any novel. Great! Listen to it and you will want to know even more about British explorers .

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A good listen

Just finished Endurance then this book. A good pairing. I would recomend both and one on the Caribbean Naval exploits and Pirates.

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harrowing

without a map it's hard to follow, so you're looking at Google maps most of the time