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.

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