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White Eskimo

Knud Rasmussen’s Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic


Stephen R. Bown
Douglas & McIntyre, October 2015

Born and raised in Greenland, and part Inuit on his mother’s side, Knud Rasmussen could shoot a gun and harness a team of sled dogs by the time he was eight. Nevertheless he was well versed in the civilized arts and came to exploration after failing to make a career as an opera singer in Europe. He was obviously more at home on the ice floes than the stage, and undertook some of the most astounding feats of endurance in the annals of polar exploration including his record-setting 18,000-mile “Great Sled Journey”— the first to traverse the Northwest Passage by dogsled. Rasmussen was also one of the most intellectual of the great early 20th century explorers, more interested in scientific study than glamorous feats, producing (among many other works) a 10-volume account documenting Inuit spirituality and culture that earned him the title, “the father of Eskimology.” In this first, full-length biography, Stephen R. Bown gives Rasmussen’s White Eskimo the readability of a good novel.