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BOOK REVIEW

CAPTAIN CROZIER -LAST MAN STANDING?

Author Michael Smith

 

I'm grateful to Carol Crozier, a member in Northern Ireland , for bringing this book to my notice, answering the call for articles and explaining the Fraser connection. Carol wrote to say, “Michael Smith, in his new book, tells the story brilliantly of Captain Crozier who joined the RN at the age of 13 and had his last voyage to find the North West Passage from which no one ever returned. However, he has eight points in the globe named after him and 240,000 miles away, a crater on the moon in Mare Fecunditatis. His Great Grandmother was Mary Fraser who came from the Highlands and married a John Crozier on 14 th October 1698, records state she was a Lovat Fraser and a close cousin of Simon Lord Lovat, known as The Fox.” Thus he joined the many fellow members of Clan Fraser who explored and developed the extreme regions of Canada. Carol also sent some newspaper clippings about the new book.

We are very grateful to The Collins Press in Cork in Ireland, who we're extremely helpful in sending through their press release, reproduced below with permission to use, so many thanks to Carol Crozier and Collins Press.

Published in hardback in July 2006 by the Collins Press, price €23.99/£17.99

This is the story of one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 19th century era of polar exploration. It is also a story of heroism and cold passion, of survival, and of the failure to survive. Francis Crozier, the stalwart Irish adventurer from Banbridge, County Down , was a major figure in the epic quests of 19th century Polar exploration -navigating the North West Passage, reaching the North Pole and mapping Antarctica . His remarkable story, which is now told for the first time, embraces six daring voyages of discovery to the world's most hostile regions and extraordinary feats of endurance, tragedy and failed romance. And the last taboo -cannibalism.

The ground-breaking expeditions of Crozier with legendary explorers like Parry, Ross and Franklin lifted the veil from the frozen Arctic and Antarctic wastes and were crucial to the exploits of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton in the 20th century. The four-year expedition to the Antarctic by Crozier and Ross was the last great journey of discovery made under sail and the icy Cape Crozier was immortalised in The Worst Journey in the World. Crozier's personal tragedy was an unhappy love affair with Franklin 's beguiling niece which drove him back to the ice for one last time and the leading role in exploration's greatest disaster - Franklin 's ill-fated North West Passage expedition in 1845. Desperate to please, Crozier sailed as second-in-command on her uncle's catastrophic venture to solve the 300-years old mystery of the North West Passage. All 129 men vanished in the ice.

Scraps of information retrieved from the ice show that Crozier took command when their ships were crushed by the ice and expedition was on the brink of disaster. For several years Crozier led a courageous battle to survive, trying to lead his men to safety by finding a path out of the icy labyrinth. Crozier's desperate struggle to survive may have finally unlocked the secrets of the North West Passage. According to legend, Crozier was the last man to die -the last man standing. But Captain Francis Crozier never received full recognition for his great feats and he drifted into obscurity to become another of exploration's unsung heroes. With the aid of important new research and a modern perspective on historic events, it is now possible to piece together the first comprehensive biography of the man from County Down who was at the centre of Polar exploration in the pioneering age of the 19th century.

Michael Smith is author of the best-selling biography of Tom Crean, An Unsung Hero, which has sold 65,000 copies, and is an established authority on Polar exploration. His other books are I Am Just Going Outside, a biography of Captain Oates (2002) and Polar Crusader about Sir James Wordie (2004). Michael has also written two books for children, Iceman about Tom Crean and The Boss, a biography of Ernest Shackleton. Editor

 

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