'My Attainment': same response to both reprints 

Same endorsements and reviews for both reprints on the Internet

The Polar Publishing Co. edition sponsored by the F.A. Cook Society Bryce's cover:  First it was 'North Pole' then just 'Pole' reflecting the mixed agenda

While it may not be the first instance of "copycat publishing," it has without a doubt introduced confusion into the world of internet book buyers, with special emphasis on those who follow the new and reprint editions dealing with classic polar exploration.

My Attainment of the Pole, Frederick A. Cook's account of his 190709 North Pole Expedition, was published in 1911 by Mitchell Kennerley, a respected New York publisher. While Robert E. Peary's book, The North Pole, had come out a year earlier, the "Cook book" soon gained a popular audience on the explorer's Chatauqua lecture circuit and eventually would surpass his rival with three editions in the United States. Editions in the United Kingdom and Germany soon followed and Cook's book has long been considered one of the out-standing accounts of exploration, discovery and survival in the polar regions.

In June 2000 the Frederick A. Cook Society announced in its newsletter that through the Polar Publishing Company, the book would be reprinted with more than 100 pages of new material. Included in the new edition was a new index, special analytical contributions by polar historians V.S. Koryakin, Sheldon S.R. Cook and Ted Heckathorn, a compilation of the "Verdict of History" which quoted outstanding polar explorers and scholars throughout the century about their assessment of Cook and his claims, and a 32-page photo section. The 90th anniversary edition was to be 600 pages.

Within months, Cooper Square Press, a New York reprint house, announced that it was also bringing out a new edition titled My Attainment of the North Pole. The title remained on the internet for prospective buyers, but when it was issued in April of this year, it had reverted to the original title. The book introduction was written by Robert M. Bryce, whose 1997 book Cook & Peary: The Polar Controversy, Resolved was turning up on the remainder shelves at a drastic reduction.

Understandably, Bryce termed the original Cook volume as a "polemic" but acknowledged that "it was one of the greatest of all Arctic survival stories." The reprint house was more generous, calling the book "vividly written, much disputed and [an] invaluable clue to solving the riddle of the polar controversy."

Ironically, the internet endorsements and reviews of the Polar Publishing Company reprint have also been accorded to the Bryce introduction reprint as well. The reviews by two acknowledged polar historians were listed for both reprints: Raimund Goerler, Archivist of the Byrd Polar Research Center and author of To the Pole and Jean Malaurie, author of The Last Kings of Thule, explorer and director of the Centre de'Etrade Arctique:

"This book in which Cook explained his accomplishment will no doubt rekindle the embers of the 90-year-old Cook/Peary controversy," writes Goerler. "Cook must be considered an extraordinary personality in polar historyhe was a Bonaparte on the ice to his rival" writes Malaurie, an explorer and researcher.

Two reviews on amazon.com were also included, reflective of the interest among readers, one being titled "I believe he made it": "Although the Cook/Peary North Pole controversy still rages after over 90 years, I believe that this republication of Frederick A. Cook's My Attainment of the Pole should help immeasurably in eliminating all doubt about Cook's accomplishment.

"The book not only is a faithful, easy-to-read republication of Cook's 1911 opus, it contains up-to-date data from well-established polar explorers and historians that validate Cook's original observations. It also confronts the Peary arguments (and what appear to be "dirty tricks") head-on, and emerges victorious. After reading the book, I was convinced that Cook was the first to attain the Pole and believe you will reach the same conclusions."

Another review concentrated on all three of the Cook reprints: "Here's another new edition from the great explorer, writer, photographer and unique personality, Dr. Frederick Cook. This book, To the Top of the Continent, joins Through the First Antarctic Night and My Attainment of the Pole as welcome re-reads for some of us and will hopefully draw new readers who are interested in exploration. As usual, Cook's writing and photography are both very good and the story of the approach and climb of Mount McKinley in Alaska (unbelievably difficult to approach, let alone climb at that time) is a great read. Descriptions of both terrain and his climbing companions are vivid and memorable.

"The new material included in these books give some added ammunition in support of Cook's claims, but will probably not change many minds among those who have been involved in this debate. For the most part, opinions have become totally polarized and even nasty over the years. Best bet? Enjoy these books and make up your own mind. Whatever the truth, Cook as an explorer, writer and personality is well worth knowing."

 



Copyright 2005 - The Frederick A. Cook Society