September 2017 brings number five . . . 

Dead Reckoning
The Untold Story
of the Northwest Passage

With Dead Reckoning, slated to appear in September, Ken McGoogan caps a quintet of works about Arctic exploration. 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.
Dead Reckoning 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, the book is a colorful, 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.
(Patrick Crean Editions / HarperCollins Canada will publish Dead Reckoning in September 2017. The image to your left is from 1999: In Gjoa Haven, Cameron Treleaven, Ken McGoogan and Louie Kamookak get set to cross Rae Strait in Louie's boat.)


The Untold Story of John Rae, the Arctic Adventurer Who Discovered the Fate of Franklin. HarperCollins Canada, Bantam/ Transworld/Bantam U.K., Carroll & Graf U.S., 2001.

Fatal Passage tells the story of John Rae, an unsung Arctic fur-trader who solved the two great mysteries of nineteenth-century Arctic exploration. Rae discovered both the final link in the Northwest Passage and the fate of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin, whose final survivors resorted to cannibalism.  Because he revealed that truth to Victorian England, Rae was vilified and virtually erased from history.

A national bestseller, Fatal Passage won the Writers’ Trust of Canada Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, the Canadian Authors’ Association Lela Common Award for Canadian History, the Grant MacEwan Author’s Award, and an American Christopher Award for a work of artistic excellence that “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” PTV Productions turned the book into a docudrama, called Passage, which aired on BBC and History Channel. 

". . . delightful reading.”
Andrea Barrett

". . . compulsively readable . . . ”
Quill & Quire

“. . . one of the most important books written on Canadian history in recent years”
Times Colonist (Victoria)

Interview with Linda Richards, January Magazine (link)

Review and interview by Paul van Peenen (link)

The Amazing Adventures of Samuel Hearne, the Sailor Who Walked to the Arctic Ocean. HarperCollins Canada, Bantam/ Transworld U.K., Carroll & Grad U.S., 2003.

In 1757, when twelve-year-old Samuel Hearne joined the Royal Navy as an apprentice to the famous Fighting Captain Samuel Hood, he embarked on a life of high adventure. This courageous young sailor would become the first European to reach the Arctic coast of North America, during an unprecedented, three-year odyssey in the forbidding Barren Lands.

In this colourful, real-life saga, Ken McGoogan paints a vivid word-picture of life in the eighteenth-century, taking readers on and off the wooden sailing ships, through Dr. Johnson’s London, a city of 5,000 coffee houses, and away to the farthest reaches of North America. After serving as a midshipman during the Seven Years War, Hearne joined the Hudson’s Bay Company and was posted to Prince of Wales Fort at Churchill on Hudson Bay. From there, the ambitious young man embarked on an overland quest for a fabled copper mine – and also to discover the Northwest Passage.

“Brisk, readable books about great Englishmen doing great things — let us call it the School of Longitude — don't come much better than this.”
The Observer (U.K.)

“. . . McGoogan’s study does relate an often brutal tale with a surprising amount of grace and poetry. . . . a swift epic in its own right.”
Publishers Weekly (U.S.)

“A brilliant book. . . a troubling and vivid account of Canada's bloody, pre-Confederation past . . . it thrills and terrifies while offering its history lessons.”
A True Story of Ambition, Obsession and the Remaking of Arctic History.
HarperCollins Canada, Bantam/Transworld U.K., 2005.

(This book won the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian History.
Soon after publishing it, Ken McGoogan was awarded the Pierre Berton Award for History)

Lady Franklin’s Revenge tells the story of a remarkable British woman who, denied a constructive role by the male-dominated society into which she was born, took her revenge in mid-life by seizing control of that most masculine of enterprises, Arctic exploration, and shaping its history to her own ends. Born into a world that decreed her place to be in the home, Jane Franklin (1791-1875) rebelled without ever declaring it. Arguably the greatest woman traveller of the age, she rode a donkey into Nazareth, sailed a rat-infested boat up the Nile River, and beat her way through the Tasmanian bush. She rode elephants in Rajasthan, scrambled up volcanoes in Hawaii, and, at age seventy, circumnavigated the globe in steamers and rough sailing ships.

When her husband, Sir John Franklin, disappeared into the Arctic in 1845 while searching for the Northwest Passage, the dauntless Jane launched an unprecedented, twelve-year search. She raised funds, organized expeditions, stipulated routes, appointed captains, and dispatched ships, so contributing more to the discovery and mapping of northern North America than any other individual. Having failed to rescue the ill-fated Franklin, Jane worked through powerful male surrogates – among them Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, and the American magnate Henry Grinnell – to eradicate inconvenient truths, create a legend of her hapless husband, and change the course of Arctic history.

“an exhaustive and scrupulously researched biography”
Sara Wheeler, The Times of London

“. . . belongs on the shelf next to such Arctic classics as Pierre Berton’s The Arctic Grail . . . this is an unforgettable book.”
 The Edmonton Journal

“an extraordinarily gripping book, and the best portrait we have had to date of the life of a woman who, whatever her faults, was by far the most compelling and durable figure in the great age of Arctic exploration.”
Arctic Book Review

Read a Question and Answer about this book
with publisher Phyllis Bruce

The Heroic Adventures and Romantic Obsessions of Elisha Kent Kane.
HarperCollins Canada / Counterpoint Press U.S. 2008

Race to the Polar Sea tells the true story of a remarkable American explorer who went in search of an Open Polar Sea at the top of the world, hoping to rescue survivors from the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin. In the 1850s, after sailing farther north than anyone else, Elisha Kent Kane got trapped in the pack ice off Greenland. Having discovered "the American route to the North Pole," he forged a unique, life-saving alliance with the Inuit. Over two years, he battled starvation, disease and a near mutiny before abandoning ship to lead an astounding escape in sleds and small boats. This is the fourth and final volume in The Fatal Passage Quartet. McGoogan celebrated its publication by sailing in Kane Basin with Adventure Canada, which inspired a travel article

. . . inspired a video as well as an interview and a travel article

“A terrifically accessible account of this wide-eyed, extraordinarily intrepid adventurer's thrilling and chilling exploits.”
Kirkus Reviews

“McGoogan's readable biography ensures Kane's place in the pantheon of
polar explorers. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal Review – Starred

“McGoogan's fascinating biography focuses on a neglected figure from the early era of polar exploration. . . .With his access to previously unknown Kane logbooks, McGoogan makes an impressive case for the bravery and importance of the explorer who first identified the Greenland ice sheet.”
Publisher’s Weekly