Read White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen's Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic by Stephen R. Bown Online


Among the explorers made famous for revealing hitherto impenetrable cultures-T. E. Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger in the Middle East, Richard Burton in Africa-Knud Rasmussen stands out not only for his physical bravery but also for the beauty of his writing. Part Danish, part Inuit, Rasmussen made a courageous three-year journey by dog sled from Greenland to Alaska to reveaAmong the explorers made famous for revealing hitherto impenetrable cultures-T. E. Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger in the Middle East, Richard Burton in Africa-Knud Rasmussen stands out not only for his physical bravery but also for the beauty of his writing. Part Danish, part Inuit, Rasmussen made a courageous three-year journey by dog sled from Greenland to Alaska to reveal the common origins of all circumpolar peoples. Lovers of Arctic adventure, exotic cultures, and timeless legend will relish this gripping tale by Stephen R. Bown, known as "Canada's Simon Winchester."...

Title : White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen's Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic
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ISBN : 9780306822827
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 339 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen's Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic Reviews

  • Michael
    2019-05-28 17:30

    This book satisfied my craving to learn more about the life and accomplishments of Rasmussen after getting pumped up about him with Ehrlich’s wonderful memoir “Seven Seasons in Greenland.” While a fever of public attention has and still does attend to the race to reach the North Pole, the amazing work of this Dane in the early 20th century is little known. Raised in Greenland among the Inuit, this son of a missionary rector was perfect in personality and skills for what could be called ethnographic exploration. Starting with Greenland itself, which is over three times the size of Texas or France, he travelled by dogsled seeking out all known groups and tribes of Inuits and documented their way of life, their stories and songs, and their myths and spirituality. In his most significant expedition, he led a group of Danes and Greenlanders from Hudson’s Bay through Canada and Alaska all the way to Siberia along the icy waterway of the Northwest Passage. His books on the Intuit (or Eskimo in the older appellation) represent an unparalleled accomplishment and important source material on the varieties and commonalities of a culture that was even then rapidly being transformed by contact with modern civilization.The author introduction sums up why Rasmussen was uniquely suited for his avocation:The skills Rasmussen acquired as a child—his facility in spoken and written languages, his hunting ability, his familiarity with travel by dogsled, his early exposure to Greenlandic and Norse myths and legends—all combined to create a unique personality ideally suited not only to geographical but also cultural Arctic exploration. His later journeys “were like happy continuances of my childhood and youth … the most strenuous sledge-trips became pleasant routine for me”.Where Knud grew up in northwest Greenland was a village of a few hundred Inuit containing four Danish families. Their language was spoken in his home, and he constantly played with native children, directly imbibing their culture and learning their skills in hunting and dogsled travel. His father, Christian, was a liberal humanist who respected native culture and beliefs despite the overall thrust of the Lutheran mission. When he made his rounds to various settlements in his 600-mile long territory, he often took Knud along. While his father attended to marriages, christenings, and funerals, Knud homed in on the shamans and female elders for their stories. Because his mother was part Inuit, he was more accepted as an equal. When he was 12, he was sent to private school in Denmark, where through much struggle came to be accepted as an exotic outsider. By the time he completed school, his parents had moved to Copenhagen, and Knud yearned to go back. After a period of hanging out in intellectual circles, womanizing, and dabbling with ambitions to become an opera singer, he drifted into journalism to make a living. He talked his way into an assignment on the status of the Laplander Sami people of Arctic Scandanavia. His delving into the Sami way life made him realize how much their culture was being destroyed by modernity, and through his book he tried to inspire efforts to preserve it as much as possible: In the end, he was concerned that to achieve understanding and acceptance, people needed to overlook the Sami’s apparent material poverty and see their rich inner life. It was the forstimpression of an idea that would so powerfully inform his own life—that social culture, not its architecture or mode of locomotion or diet or clothing was the true mark of a society’s soul. “There was once a time on earth,” Rasmussen wrote, “when there was less wisdom and more happiness. Men were more simple, more reasonable than now, and we are told they lived life for life’s sake.” Here he expressed a philosophy that would accompany him all his life, a vision that led him to his great interest in the mythical world of the Arctic native peoples.Eventually he infected other Danes with his dream of studying the Inuit and promoting ways to preserve their culture. Through funding of a foundation, he led a two and a half year expedition around northern Greenland, called the Danish Literary Expedition. By making use of hunting along the way, such expeditions could be achieved with a small party of Danes and Greenlanders and only a few sleds. His leadership and inspiration to others were remarkable. He would sing to his crew, make a game of imagining all the wonderful food they didn’t have, play Mozart in camp on his portable gramophone, and use any excuse to make a celebration of feasting and dancing at any settlement they contacted. However, the inevitable jealousy from other Danes who had inflated egos sometimes caused major problems. Two deaths on one foray of the expedition reflected just how close to the edge of survival these trips involved. After the early success, he established in 1910 a trading post at Thule in northwest Greenland with his friend Peter Freuchen, a cartographer and zoologist, which provided an income source and starting base for a series of subsequent expeditions. On one foray, they established contact with an Inuit group that had been lost to knowledge by the southern tribe for generations. This part of the book was quite moving and uplifting. Another trip 600 miles across the Greenland icecap made for remarkable reading, an accomplishment previously made only by the Norwegian Nansen and an inspiration during Knud’s childhood . The account of ascending glaciers to 7,000 feet and crossing such a vast desert of cold and dead is mind boggling. They ran out of food and had to eat the walrus hide used for sled runners and eventually some of the dogs. I always hate to hear that, especially given the deep bonds explorers have to make with their dogs. Rasmussen had a special way with the dogs, and some said he could look into their eyes and inspire extra feats of endurance by some kind of hypnotism. The trip, ostensibly to search for survivors of a polar expedition, accomplished little for Knud’s agenda but the joy of adventure. Some ancient stone ruins were found that hinted at much older habitation. On the eastern shore they ran out of bullets, so Knud improvised a spear from a stick and a knife, by which he succeeded in killing dangerous musk oxen for their survival. Bown's writing is often quite eloquent, as in these samples where he tries to account for Rasmussen's fundamental attractions to the people and life on the fragile edge of existence: In this rich narrative tradition of the Inuit, where wisdom was expressed as story and metaphor, the inspiration perhaps came from the brooding darkness that permeates the land during half the year. Inuit oral traditions reveal the intricate system of beliefs in spirits, strange beings and magic, in which souls can travel between humans and animals and between inanimate and animate objects; giants roam the land and terrifying flesh-eating monsters deceive and attack lone travelers. ...The distance between life and death was very narrow here, and this raw and elemental aspect of life in the North appealed to Rasmussen. It mirrored the land itself, where the rocky bones of the earth were laid bare, where animals were eaten raw right after their killing, where shelter consisted of rudimentary huts, caves, or snow houses, and danger and death were never far away.The major four-year journey to the Pacific didn’t come about until 1921. In the years preceding that, Knud married the aristocratic Copenhagen beauty Dagmar. She made one extended visit to Greenland, but the usual pattern was long waiting in Denmark for his periodic returns. Somehow she came to accept that her husband’s gregarious nature and allure would always be associated with affairs during their separation. Knud’s friend Freuchen married an Inuit woman who accompanied them on some of their trips. Her death from the Spanish flu was a particularly sad part of this book. This book really doesn’t get into details of Inuit religion and mythology, though some wonderful passages from their songs and some of the stories are provided. Nor does it delve into the more recent history of the Inuit and the impact of global warming. I came away with quite a bit of respect for Denmark in restricting for a long time the access of outsiders to the Inuit settlements as far back as the early 18th century. The Norse had settled southern Greenland in the 10th century, a colony that peaked at about 5,000 residents and lasted until the 15th century (profiled in Diamond’s wonderful book, “Collapse”, and part of the oral saga of Erik the Red). The movement of Inuit into Greenland from Ellsmere Island in the 13th century led to some conflicts with the Norse. While global cooling led to their abandonment of their colony, the Inuits survived through their innovation of dogsled travel, kayaks, and harpoon hunting of seal and walrus. Thus, they were encountered when a second wave of Scandanavians arrived in the 1720s for whaling and seal hunting, accompanied with their missionaries. Soon Denmark achieved sovereignity and kept incursions to a minimum. Given that harbors are frozen for all but a brief window in summer, the tough life living there obviously contributed. I must admit to looking down on the eating of raw or fermented meats as a mainstay of diet. And the prospect of months without sun seems horrifying to contemplate. But reading this helped me overcome some of these negative attitudes. I was previously inspired by Diamond at the beginning of his “Guns, Germs, and Steel” where he comes to the epiphany that the so-called primitive New Guinea tribesmen he befriended were just as intelligent, fully human, and invested in creative life careers as hunter-gatherers as him in his “civilized” lifestyle. It was so uplifting to gather in Rasmussen’s love of these people, almost with the sense of nobility we feel about Bronze Age Greeks: Rasmussen’s view of the Inuit was so different from that of other people at the time because he had a window into their rich inner world. He was not put off by their shabby, often rough external image. When he was inhabiting this inner world, a bubble of awe enveloped him, and he saw the Inuit in a heroic mold.Living so close to the edge of death, it is no wonder that their poetry and songs are not carefree tales of adventure and obstacles overcome: Frequently they are preoccupied with darker, more disturbing themes of death, starvation, murder, evil spirits, hunger, disease, cannibalism, intertribal conflict and suicide by elders.The author conveys Rasmussen’s simplistic understanding and forgiveness for some of these baser elements, refraining from any deeper forays into sociology and anthropology to account for them: The shortage of women led to fights over wives and polyandry, or husband sharing, which also led to murder. These seemingly brutal practices resulted from the requirements of the harsh land the people occupied.In sum, this is a wonderful window into a magnetic, gifted character, a stark and beautiful land, and a resilient native culture he sought to preserve and protect from inevitable change from the end of their isolation. The narrative is supported by great set of maps and photographs.

  • Nancy
    2019-06-04 19:06

    "Even before I knew what traveling meant I determined that one day I would go and find these people, whom my fancy pictured different from all others. I must go and see 'the New people' as the old story-teller called them." Knud RasmussenEnthralling. Thrilling.Every time I picked up White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen's Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic those words popped into my head. I had to put the book aside for a few weeks. I SO was eager to return to it.Rasmussen endured treacherous journeys across the Arctic, driven by his need to discover and document people who had rarely, if ever, seen Europeans. He was fully aware that 'civilization' was already ending the Eskimo way of life.Charismatic, with high social intelligence, ruggedly handsome and fun loving, Rasmussen could charm his way into any society. The Inuit called him the White Eskimo for he lived fully as one of them; he could drive a team of sled dogs, hunt, relish rotten meat and green liver, talk the language and walk the walk.Rasmussen was born in Greenland in 1879. His father was a Danish missionary. His mother's people had lived in Greenland for over a century and she was one-fourth Inuit. Rasmussen loved the Arctic; there were great hardships but there was also great freedom.When he was twelve the family returned to Denmark, a shocking transition for the boy. At boarding school he mourned the loss of his old life and was an indifferent student. He became a heart-breaker and the 'king' of social gatherings. He dropped out of university and considered acting and opera. He socialized with the intelligentsia. In 1900 he decided on a travel writing as a career.Rasmussen charmed his way into expeditions to Iceland and Lapland, writing articles as a freelance journalist. The Danish Literary Expedition finally brought him back to his beloved Greenland. He was able to reach the Thule people who lived farther north than any other people on earth. Rasmussen had finally found a new people, with different customs, in an unknown land. Thule became his home base for most of his life, With Peter Freuchen he established a trading base there. He became part of the community listened to the stories, memorized them, then wrote them down. He loved the artistry of the Inuit poetry and folklore.Rasmussen went on seven expeditions, journeys that took him from Greenland to cross Arctic Canada. Rasmussen endured what many other could not: starvation, frozen limbs, pushing himself past exhaustion. He noted the similarities of the cultures, language and mythology and developed a theory of their interconnectivity through migration eastward.He accepted the Eskimo culture and peoples without European judgment. He knew their life was harsh and they did what they needed to do to survive. The killing of girl children or the voluntary suicide of the elderly prevented a community from growing bigger than their food sources could maintain. Cached meat spoiled in the summer warmth, but Rasmussen enjoyed mildewed blubber or green liver with the locals. Cannibalism happened in starvation times. Since men outnumbered women, husband sharing occurred.Rasmussen's private life is not well documented. He never wrote about himself, never made himself into the hero of his own story. He had numerous lovers, and married and had children although his family rarely saw him. In later years he returned to his family to write. Promoting his books meant visiting populated cities like New York but he never felt at home anywhere but in the Arctic. His final journey to that hostile land, to film a movie that showed the true character of the Inuit, he became ill and never recovered.Stephen R. Bown has written the first biography of the Danish Arctic explorer and ethnologist Rasmussen in English, which may be why few recognize his name. Since Rasmussen's extensive writings have not been translated into English, Bown was required to buy books, take them apart and tediously print them, scan them into a computer, then use software to translate them into English.The book has charming black and white illustrations, maps, and photographs.I had never heard of Rasmussen before. I am thrilled by this book and now want to read his book The People of The Polar North.I thank the publisher and NetGalley for a free ebook in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • Kristen
    2019-06-11 18:11

    Several years ago, I readThe Ends Of The Earth: An Anthology Of The Finest Writing About The Arctic And The Antarctic (The ends of the earth #1)which is where I believe I first heard of Knud Rasmussen. I must confess that I don't specifically recall which writing of his was selected for the anthology, but I plan to go back and look for it. Rasmussen was one of the few polar explorers who was not involved in a race to discover either of the poles or claim new lands. He was an adventurer and a chronicler of people. Born and raised in his formative years in Greenland before being sent to Denmark for his formal education, he straddled two worlds. After a period of drifting in Denmark and searching for a purpose, he returned to Greenland and made it his mission to document the disappearing Inuit traditions and way of life. Unlike other arctic explorers, his expeditions adopted the native Inuit ways and lived off of the land to the maximum extent possible. He undertook trips that had never been tried before and that were thought to be impossible. His intent was to collect as many stories, songs and information about the traditions of the isolated people he found on his journeys. He wrote volumes about what he found and his work was still being collected published posthumously after his untimely death from pneumonia and food poisoning at age 54. While one of the lesser known (at least in America) polar explorers, he probably made the greatest contribution to our understanding of the arctic peoples. The book was an interesting look at the man as well as a engrossing tale of his journeys. Full disclosure: I won this copy in a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

  • Joanne-in-Canada
    2019-06-19 11:26

    During my course work on the Inuit, I keep coming across references to Knud Rasmussen and the Fifth Thule Expedition but don't know anything about it. So I decided to read this for my book club's topic of Canadian history in celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial. (Given what I'm learning in my studies in Indigenous languages I'm not sure how much I feel like celebrating, but I digress.)If you like tales of wild and crazy dangerous exploration by a larger-than-life Greenlander who valued the language and culture of the Inuit people and made an incredible effort to record their stories, poems, songs and spiritual practices, this is the book for you! Sadly, Rasmussen didn't get to Canada until page 200, and then the coverage of the Fifth Thule Expedition was fairly short given that he spent three years crossing the northern coast, but was interesting nonetheless.Check out:

  • Jenna Kathleen
    2019-05-26 12:17

    I would never have picked up this book for myself so I am delighted to have received an ARC from Goodreads Giveaways!This is a great book to pick up even if you have little to no knowledge of Greenland, the Inuit or polar expedition. Rasmussen is a fascinating character to follow as he embarks on the journey of a lifetime through Greenland, northern Canada and Alaska. If I wasn't such a picky eater (rotten Eskimo meat doesn't sound too appetizing to me), I would be all suited up to go on a polar adventure. The expedition is ambitious and inspiring, scientific and social. Rasmussen is daring and maintains a good humour in any environment he encounters, keeping his comrades in high spirits and inspiring readers to chase after their own adventure.

  • Polly Krize
    2019-05-29 17:04

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.Beautifully written, this book brings the amazing story of Knud Rasmussen and his life history with the Inuit people. Although not one of them, he was raised to run dogs, hunt and live as the Eskimo people do. Well prepared to feel at home in extreme conditions, his numerous expeditions to Lapland and Arctic Canada documented the similarities of the people inhabiting these diverse locations. Mr. Bown has written the fascinating story of an unknown hero and his contributions to our understanding of the northern people. Recommended.

  • Noelle Walsh
    2019-05-31 15:13

    This isn't a book I would have picked for myself. I am glad I've had the chance to read this book as I have become very curious about learning about the Arctic and Knud Rasmussen thanks to this book. For any fan of biographies and exploration, this book is worth picking up. It's very good.*won on GoodReads First Reads*

  • Sharon
    2019-06-22 15:27

    Outstanding description of an Arctic explorer's journey. I very much enjoyed it.this was a goodreads giveaway

  • Max Carmichael
    2019-05-30 13:20

    For better or for worse, this admirable yet frustrating book has been my introduction to the world of the Inuit, after reading other accounts of Arctic explorers that focused on their putative European heroes and treated natives as mere passing scenery.You can envy Rasmussen for his integration into native life, or you can idolize him as a European hero, but if Bown is painting an accurate picture, it's likely that Rasmussen himself fully grasped the irony and inadequacy of the role he both sought and found himself in. Every story can be told from many perspectives; reading between the lines of this biography, I repeated struggled to see the Europeans in the eyes of their native companions or the remote communities they visited.A hundred years ago Rasmussen advocated for the Greenland Inuit with the Danish government and advised the Canadian government on behalf of its native citizens; two generations later the Canadian government was kidnapping Inuits and exiling them to harsh conditions on Ellesmere Island with false promises, and today, Rasmussen's childhood hunting village of Ilulissat has been transformed into a high-end resort for affluent Danes. And the native stories and artifacts that he shipped back to Denmark by the thousands, ostensibly for the benefit of "science", could also be said to have been appropriated for the edification of the imperial power.In his book, Bown often unfairly lumps Rasmussen in with the Polar explorers, who were antisocial adrenaline junkies and egomaniacs, best forgotten. But even well-intentioned advocates like Rasmussen come and go, while native communities have no choice but to endure, and their story of adaptation to changing environments and dominant cultures is the truly great adventure of our times, the yet-to-be-told story that Bown's book leaves me yearning for.

  • Tom Johnson
    2019-06-05 15:09

    Knud Rasmussen, an Arctic name i was unfamiliar with which is a shame as Knud deserves to be better known - Knud's obsession was preserving the cultural heritage of the Inuit peoples - no doubt the reason for his obscurity - as always organized religion seeks to destroy all that is unlike their own - much of interest is presented - the book reminds me of The Uttermost Part of the Earth as the story is presented by a progressive mindset of Good missionaries, father & son sets, religion can be a force for Good but first they must get their collective nose out of their collective butt. Did not know this, pg. 36/37, "Although his Sami companion was experienced at managing the notoriously unpredictable animals, one of the larger reindeer went berserk, turned around and charged the sled, and attacked the passengers--apparently a not-uncommon occurrence." The adventures of old-timey travel. From page 242, a goodly summation of white people's history, "Rasmussen asked about the meaning of the story. "Hm, well," Netsit, the storyteller pondered. "We don't really trouble ourselves so much about the meaning of a story, as long as it is amusing. It is only the white men who must always have reasons and meanings in everything. And that is why our elders always say we should treat white men as children who always want their own way. If they don't get it, they make no end of a fuss." ... 'nuff said. The only troubling note; several times Bown mentions Stefansson as though his was a respected name in the annals of Arctic exploration. Please read "Ada Blackjack" by Jennifer Niven to set that matter straight.

  • Katie
    2019-06-23 11:08

    I am a sucker for travel stories in the arctic regions and so I picked up this biography and was hooked. Knud Rasmussen was a Danish Greenlander who spent his first 12 years in Greenland where his father was a missionary. He learned the language, customs, and survival skills of the native people and he used those skills to return to Greenland on multiple exploration treks throughout Greenland and eventually across the whole arctic region across Canada into Alaska. He was terrible at math, so he left the mapping to others, but he was intensely interested in the Eskimo people and was the first to carefully listen to their legends, beliefs, and traditions before they were forgotten and wiped away from exposure to other cultures. He eventually came to the conclusion that they were all derived from the same people who had originated from the west and expanded east. Knud Rasmussen was a really interesting character who loved adventure, dog-sledding, languages, and the native people in the North. He was very successful in straddling the Danish and Eskimo culture and could talk his way into the good graces of either society. I appreciated the detailed maps in this book. This book reminded me a little bit of the Farley Mowatt book "People of the Snow," which I now want to re-read. The descriptions of the rotten meat and festering seal blubber that the people loved were stomach-churning. This book made me feel guilty for wanting to turn up the heat in my California house.

  • John Benson
    2019-05-29 13:25

    Like myself, Knud Rasmussen was a Lutheran "missionary kid (MK)" who grew up in Greenland with his Danish father and a mother who was partially Inuit in the late 1800s and later went on to explore almost all the places where Inuits lived in Greenland, Canada and the US. The book brings out his exuberance for life, how he was able to cross over easily between the European Danish culture of his parents, and how he mixed easily with Inuits wherever he met them. The strengths of his MK cultural identity served him well as he wrote some of the most detailed ethnographic work on these people as he explored the western half of the North Polar regions. But the book does not shy away from his faults at abandoning his family for sometimes years at a time as he left them in Denmark and he explored Greenland and other places. Like many MKs, his ties were more to the land and culture of his childhood, rather than to his passport culture. I liked how Stephen Bown described him and I had liked his earlier book on Roald Amundsen. My only quibble with the book is that the maps he includes of Greenland and his trips could be more detailed. Many Greenland place names that are mentioned in the book never make it on to his maps. I am a geographer, as well, so these type of things bother me.

  • Michael McCue
    2019-06-10 18:11

    Everything I have ever read about Greenland has made me want to go see it. White Eskimo is a new biography of Knut Rasmussen by Stephen R. Brown. Rasmussen is usually considered a Danish explorer and ethnologist but he was born in Greenland and his mother was part Inuit. He grew up in Greenland speaking Greenlandic/Inuit as well as Danish. His ability as a native speaker of the Inuit language served him well in his many expeditions throughout the Arctic. Among other things Rasmussen determined that all the Inuit people from Greenland to the other side of the Bering Strait in Russia spoke the same language and shared a common culture. Rasmussen traveled across all of the Arctic inhabited by Inuit mostly by dogsled. His expeditions sometimes took years. Rasmussen was able to visit most of the Inuit peoples before their culture was changed by contact with civilization. Knut Rasmussen loved everything about the Inuit culture including the food. The author's recounting of Inuit delicacies was the one part of Inuit life I might not want to experience. Much of what Rasmussen called pickled was really rotten. One treat was a dead seal buried for a year and consumed when the meat and blubber was green. Other than the rotten meat I still want to go there.

  • San Diego Book Review
    2019-06-22 13:10

    In the early days of the twentieth century, there were still unknown regions and cultures. White Eskimo by Stephen R. Brown details the life of Knud Rasmussen. Rasmussen was half Danish, half Eskimo making him ideal to move in both cultures. He was born in Greenland with an early education of native language, culture and survival; then educated more formerly in Denmark. He was charming, energetic, and magnetic. Returning to Greenland he set off on an exploration to find out more about the world that no white men one knew. This was to be the pattern of his life; and at each iteration the exploration was longer, the resultant books more scholarly and his fame grew. Read the full review at my link textReviewed by Ralph Peterson

  • Jeremy
    2019-05-31 18:30

    I thought this was a fairly good book about a genuinely interesting subject. Rasmussen, often described as a "Danish" explorer was that, but he was also deeply rooted in Greenlandic and Inuit culture. He grew up in Greenland, was part Greenlandic, spoke Greenlandic at home. Much more sympathetic than most of the other polar explorers with their colonialist bravado, Rasmussen has an anthropological orientation and a deep desire to connect with the indigenous people and understand them and their beliefs.The book at times veers into hero worship, which I find very off-putting. I almost put it down reading the introduction, but ultimately was happy I didn't.

  • Dave Hoff
    2019-05-30 16:05

    Book gives an insight into the culture, stories, and languages of the Inuit people as recorded by Rasmussen, A Dane, 1/8th Inuit, who was born and raised in Greenland. He became a ethnographer explorer and journalist. He made 5 expeditions to the north end of Greenland, the last one, 20,000 miles by dogsled from Thule to Kotzebue, Alaska interviewing the different Inuit groups. He found they share a common language and closely related cultures. During these trips he lived as the Inuits do, hunting and fishing for food for his crew and the dogs. As he aged he came to realize the physical adventures he had done were no longer possible, he died at age 54.

  • Matk Vogler
    2019-06-06 13:09

    Could't put down is great english language biography of one of the most important, yet nearly forgotten in the US, early 20th century Danish Arctic explorer & ethnographer, the Greenland born Knud Rasmussen who, almost single handedly documented and preserved the stories, legends & culture of the Inuit people across the western hemisphere from East Greenland to Barrow, Alaska.

  • Kyla
    2019-06-25 17:15

    Written with a respectful and admiring voice, this novel illuminates the importance of Knud Rasmussen's work to Anthropology in general and the study of Inuit culture in particular. I was fearing a "man versus the elements" epic tale and was instead delighted by the depth of analysis of Arctic culture.

  • Amber Griffith
    2019-06-07 16:01

    This is a fascinating read about living with the eskimo culture. If you enjoy learning about other cultures, you will love this book. I won this book on a goodreads giveaway. Thank you!

  • John
    2019-05-27 11:12

    Excellent read! Hard to put down. Amazing man he was. Don't think we will ever have another with as much love for life as Knud Rasmussen. Sad about his family life though.

  • Grant Godfrey
    2019-06-17 19:22

    This book was a gift, so I had no expectations. Bowen focuses on the Greenlandic side of Rasmussen, as well as his Arctic exploration. This really brings out the personal qualities that enabled his striking achievements. For someone who knew only that Rasmussen was an arctic adventurer, it was much more engaging than I expected of a biography.

  • Steve
    2019-06-17 17:23

    I came across this book while perusing books on Alaska. I was planning my next trip there and the reference to Alaska piqued my interest. I had absolutely no idea how vastly different a journey this book would lead me on. Stephen Brown's book, White Eskimo, places you alongside Knud Rasmussen on his many journeys across Greenland and much of the Arctic. Having a front row seat to these journeys not only provides the reader with an open window to a unique climate and landscape, but more importantly, introduces the reader to a people and culture with a rich history.Knud Rasmussen's role as an ethnographic specialist is well depicted in his masterful ability to connect with the Inuit people. From the onset, it is not difficult to see Rasmussen's genuine care and interest in the culture of the Inuit people. The book is filled with interesting stories, myths and legends which have been handed down through the generations. While Rasmussen clearly appreciated the importance of preserving the tradition of the Inuit people, he also understood the inevitability of integrating modernity into the daily lives of the Inuit. As Brown shares, "He lamented the passing of the old ways as traditional culture gave way to the Juggernaut of modernity, as tradition and myth were replaced by the soullessness of the market economy."For those adventurists interested in the excitement of the expedition, you will not be disappointed! (That was my interest initially). Brown does an exceptional job of taking the reader along with Knud on his expeditions across the arctic. As one might surmise, the expeditions are fraught with danger and at times, almost seemingly insurmountable obstacles. While my initial gravitation to this book was centered more on the expeditions themselves (especially the Fifth Thule Expedition which brought Knud to Alaska), I found the ethnographic aspects of the book enthralling. This captivation has led me to research more books on the Inuit and Knud and I look forward to expanding my understanding of the culture and tradition of those who live in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

  • Steven
    2019-06-04 14:12

    Picked this up on a whim when I found myself at a public library branch between books on my list. An excellent biography of a man who had all the right combination of skills, temperament and foresight to travel across the arctic, collecting ethnographic information about the Inuit or Greenland and the rest of North America before their culture began to be heavily influenced by the "civilized" world.With Inuit ancestry of his own, and having grown up in Greenland fluent in both Danish and Inuktitut, Rasmussen was never really considered an outsider by the Inuit. He genuinely love them, their culture, their attitudes, their strength and even their food. Bown highlights his activities in Denmark and the arctic and constant desire to learn more about the people and places of the frozen north. A large part of the book describes his 5th Thule Expedition (1921-1924) in which he and several Danish and Inuit companions traveled form Greenland to Alaska across North America's northern arctic coast, documenting the similarities and differences in the groups he encountered.It's a good book, written with much insight into Rasmussen's personality, and those of the people around him. I wish the maps hadn't been so rudimentary. Many communities mentioned didn't appear on the maps provides, nor did the actual paths of Rasmussen's many journeys. Also, the author often referred to photographs that didn't appear to be in the book, which was a little frustrating.

  • Leah
    2019-06-20 12:24

    A fascinating read - amazing contribution to our knowledge of Inuit culture - but amazing that we don't know more about his life and voyages. Anyone working on the Arctic (or having an interest in the Arctic) should read this book!

  • Hannah Cole
    2019-06-03 17:18

    Extremely well written. Great history on Knud, Inuit culture and heritage, and the Arctic.