In 1906, from the ice fields northwest of Greenland, Commander Robert E. Peary spotted an unknown land in the distance. He called it "Crocker Land". Scientists and explorers agreed that Peary had found a new continent. Several years later, two of his disciples, George Borup and Donald MacMillan-with the sponsorship of the American Museum of Natural History-assembled a team to investigate. They pitched their two-year mission as a scientific tour de force to fill in the last blank space on the globe. But the Crocker Land Expedition became a five-year ordeal that endured a fatal boating accident, a drunken captain, a shipwreck, marooned rescue parties, disease, dissension and a crewman-turned-murderer. Based on a trove of unpublished letters, diaries and field notes, A Wretched and Precarious Situation is a harrowing adventure.
David Welky is the author of The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937, The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II, and other books. He is a professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas.