by Ken McGoogan
With this book—his most ambitious yet—Ken McGoogan delivers a vivid, comprehensive recasting of Arctic-exploration history. Dead Reckoning challenges the conventional narrative, which emerged out of Victorian England and focused almost exclusively on Royal Navy officers. By integrating non-British and fur-trade explorers and, above all, Canada’s indigenous peoples, this work brings the story of Arctic discovery into the twenty-first century.
Orthodox history celebrates such naval figures as John Franklin, Edward Parry and James Clark Ross. Dead Reckoning tells their stories, but the book also encompasses such forgotten heroes as Thanadelthur, Akaitcho, Tattanoeuck, Ouligbuck, Tookoolito and Ebierbing, to name just a few. Without the assistance of the Inuit, Franklin’s recently discovered ships, Erebus and Terror, would still be lying undiscovered at the bottom of the polar sea.
The book ranges from the sixteenth century to the present day, looks at climate change and the politics of the Northwest Passage, and recognizes the cultural diversity of a centuries-old quest. Informed by the author’s own voyages and researches in the Arctic, and illustrated throughout, Dead Reckoning is a colourful, multi-dimensional saga that demolishes myths, exposes pretenders and celebrates unsung heroes. For international readers, it sets out a new story of Arctic discovery. For Canadians, it brings that story home.