Beyond the Barrier: The Story of Byrd's First Expedition to Antarctica

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Overview


When this book originally appeared in 1990, it was hailed as an important new work because of the author's access to Adm. Richard E. Byrd's just-released private papers. Previous books on the legendary polar explorer had to rely on sources subject to the admiral's vigilant censorship or the control of his heirs and friends. With this study Eugene Rodgers provides a scrupulously honest and objective account of Byrd's 1929 expedition to Antarctica.

Without discrediting the expedition's success or Byrd's leadership, Rodgers shows that the admiral was not the saintly hero he and the press depicted. Nor was the expedition without its problems. Interviews with surviving members of the expedition together with a wealth of other new material indicate that Byrd, contrary to his claims, was not a good navigator--his pilots usually had to find their way by dead reckoning--and that he was not on the actual flight that discovered Marie Byrd Land. The book further reveals a crisis over drunkenness among the men (including Byrd), the admiral's fear of mutiny, and his rewriting of news stories from the pole to embellish his own image.

Without discrediting the expedition's success or Admiral Richard Byrd's leadership, this book makes clear for the first time that the admiral was not the saintly hero he and the press depicted. A provocative reassessment of an American hero, but a scrupulously objective book that makes a major contribution to history. Photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The ``plaster saint'' image of American polar explorer Richard E. Byrd, one of the great icons of the hero-worshipping 1920s, has been chipped away at in such books as Finn Ronne's Antarctica, My Destiny ( LJ 12/15/79) and David Roberts's Great Exploration Hoaxes (LJ 11/1/82). Now it has been shattered by free-lance author and Antarctica veteran Rodgers. Byrd was a man who ``measured against other leaders . . . comes out well,'' but who failed to live up to the image of perfection that he himself created. Byrd's demytholization shouldn't distract readers from the well-researched account of his 1928-31 Antarctic expedition, a notable achievement recounted in serviceable if uninspired prose. For readers of detailed accounts of polar exploration.-- J.F. Husband, Framingham State Coll. Lib., Mass.
School Library Journal
For those who thrill to the courage and foolhardiness of exploits on the ice caps, there is a new adventure waiting. Rodgers had access to recently opened private papers and utilizes these sources to bring immediacy and insight to his subject. Admiral Byrd is revealed as a much more complex character than the saint who wooed the nation for support for his explorations. Not all the Byrd inconsistencies are resolved, but the story is nevertheless fascinating. Collections that admit only one arctic adventure should have Roland Huntford's Scott and Amundsen (Atheneum, 1984; o.p.), but this is a good addition. --Cathy Chauvette, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557507136
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2012
  • Series: Bluejacket Books Series
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,144,593
  • Product dimensions: 6.17 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.99 (d)

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