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(p.1) Introduction
The Coldest Crucible
University of Chicago Press

The book describes Arctic exploration as an activity that unfolded not only in the Arctic but also in America. It presents the story of Arctic exploration during the heyday of its popularity in the United States, from 1850 to 1910. During this period, more than two dozen expeditions entered the Arctic on the voyages of discovery to rescue missing explorers, find the Northwest Passage, and stand at the North Pole. The book focuses on the perils confronting explorers south of the Arctic Circle: the struggles to build support for their expeditions before departure, defend their claims on their return, and cast themselves as men worthy of the nation's full attention. It paints a portrait of these explorers—one that removes them from the icy backdrop of the Arctic and sets them within the local tempests of American cultural life.

Keywords:   Arctic exploration, United States, Northwest Passage, North Pole, Arctic Circle, American cultural life

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