Roland Huntford

The Icemen Cometh

Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage

By

Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 439pp £25 order from our bookshop

In British Arctic exploration, the hunt for the Northwest Passage became a repository of sentimental heroics, which masked its prosaic origin. It began as the search for a short cut from the Atlantic to the Pacific through North America in order to break the Spanish and Portuguese grip on trade with the Orient along southerly routes. Eventually it became a fabled quest. It produced a literature of its own, to which Arctic Labyrinth is the most recent addition.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He has 'raised his country’s international influence to unprecedented heights, while at the same time jailing hundr… ,
    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,