Smith - Sir James Wordie. Polar crusader
Sir James Mann Wordie was the elder statesman of Polar
exploration - the durable link between the Heroic Age of
Scott and Shackleton and the mechanised age which opened
up the Arctic and Antarctic regions.
Wordie was trapped on Elephant Island during Shackleton's
epic Endurance expedition (1914-16) and his previously
unpublished diary of the ordeal (edited extracts are incorporated)
provides an intriguing new insight into the greatest story
of survival ever told. Wordie launched another eight expeditions
to the Polar territories while well into his forties; he
pioneered a new style of exploration in the '20s and '30s,
and nurtured a new generation of explorers like Fuchs and
Wordie, born in Glasgow in 1889, was a hugely influential
explorer and academic who, as President of the Royal Geographical
Society and Chairman of the Scott Polar Research Institute,
dominated British exploration for almost 40 years. He was
also Master of St John's College, Cambridge.
Wordie was a central figure in war-time intelligence, shaping
British policy in the Falklands, and played a pivotal role
in the conquest of Everest in 1953. Wordie's last major
act was to help mastermind the first coast-to-coast crossing
of Antarctica with Fuchs in 1956, the feat which eluded
him on Shackleton's Endurance expedition.
This is the first biography of Wordie, and it draws on
his extensive and unpublished papers and diaries, a wide
range of official sources and personal recollections of
family, friends and colleagues. In providing an all-round
portrait of a fascinating man and his achievements, Michael
Smith's book places Sir James Wordie in his rightful place
in the pantheon of great British explorers.
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