cover image Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search

Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search

Russell A. Potter. McGill-Queen’s Univ. (CDC, U.S. dist.; Georgetown Terminal Warehouses, Canadian dist.), $34.95 (255p) ISBN 978-0-7735-4784-1

With ambitious scope and profound depth, Potter (Arctic Spectacles) deftly demonstrates that truth can indeed be stranger and more fascinating than fiction. The book chronicles the ill-fated attempt of Sir John Franklin and his crew to navigate an uncharted expanse of the Arctic and discover an “Arctic passage.” Arguably as captivating are the events of the 165 years after their disappearance, in which the expedition passed from current event to history to legend, cementing itself more firmly in the popular imagination with each passing year, each new discovery, and each question left unanswered. Potter addresses every aspect of the mystery: the historical and cultural context of the expedition, the cultural legacy of its disappearance, lead testing gathered in the lab, Inuit testimony gathered on the tundra, the first makeshift graves found in 1851, and the momentous discovery of the wreck of one of the ships in 2014. Using beautiful language and keen insight, Potter delivers the narrative in thematic chapters, such as “Bones,” “Hall,” and “Ice,” yet, as a whole, the story remains comfortably chronological. This seamless blend of research and captivating storytelling showcases the curiosity, frailty, and endurance of the human spirit. (Sept.)