Total: $0 

Your shopping cart is empty.

Unchained Man: The Arctic Life and Times of Captain Robert Abram Bartlett

Unchained Man: The Arctic Life and Times of Captain Robert Abram Bartlett

Maura Hanrahan
Available In Stock


Based on archival research in four countries, Unchained Man is a biography of Robert Bartlett, one of the central figures in international polar exploration and Arctic history. Available now!
In February 1914, two men began a perilous 700 mile walk, across the barren ice of the Arctic Ocean from Alaska to Siberia, on a near-impossible rescue mission—to save the crew and passengers of the ship Karluk, which had been crushed and sunk by pack ice. One of the men making this heroic journey was the legendary Robert Bartlett, captain of the Karluk, who, four years earlier, had navigated the Arctic for Robert Peary’s disputed North Pole mission.   Bartlett’s epic 1914 endeavour, which resulted in the rescue of 20 men, women and children (of the 31 originally stranded) proved to be the greatest of his many voyages to the Arctic. His success was made possible by an intense willingness to learn vital survival skills from the Inuit. And like the Inuit, Bartlett only truly found peace in the frozen, barren limits of the far north.     Although Bartlett led a celebrated life, receiving international fame, awards and accolades for his achievements as an explorer, he was an enigmatic hero, despite receiving many fan letters, including one from President Teddy Roosevelt. Bartlett remained a loner who chased away his demons with liquor during his later life in New York City.   Indeed, Bartlett’s heroics are so celebrated that the man himself has been obscured by mythology, even as his exploits have been depicted in a recent film about the Karluk tragedy.  Based on archival research in four countries, Unchained Man explores the man behind the myth of Robert Bartlett, while celebrating the life of a central figure in international polar exploration and Arctic history.
Maura Hanrahan is a Board of Governors Research Chair and an associate professor of Geography at the University of Lethbridge. She is also an adjunct professor with Memorial University's Environmental Policy Institute. She is an acclaimed scholar and author or editor of eleven books in several genres, including the Canadian best-seller and winner of the NL History and Heritage Award Tsunami, the story of the 1929 catastrophe that killed numerous people in Newfoundland. Another book, Domino: The Eskimo Coast Disaster, recounts a devastating hurricane in Labrador in 1885. Hanrahan’s current research interests are water security, foodways and nutrition history, Indigenous health, Indigenous land-use, and Arctic exploration. She is the 2015 recipient of the Canadian Coast Guard Polaris Award in recognition for her work in preserving the maritime culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Praise for Unchained Man:
Maura Hanrahan has written a fine book about one of Newfoundland’s most famous seamen and arctic explorers, Bob Bartlett. In Unchained Man—meticulously researched and finely written—she has come closer than any writer yet to solving the enigma of the great Bob Bartlett. From the haunting sinking of the Karluk to the epic struggle to reach the North Pole with Admiral Peary, Hanrahan depicts Bartlett as a flawed but extraordinary human being. This book is unforgettable, a must read for lovers of the literature of exploration and the still uncharted region of the Arctic. — Wayne Johnston, author First Snow, Last Light and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
A riveting, comprehensive portrait of one of the most dynamic and enigmatic sea captains the Arctic has ever seen. Robert Abram Bartlett was larger than life, his adventures the stuff of legends. Maura Hanrahan expertly recounts the long overdue, very true story of this understated polar hero in engaging, dramatic prose. — New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Niven, The Ice Master
“Some might dismiss Bartlett as another of Newfoundland’s old salty dog types, only more famous,” she writes. “But Bartlett made major contributions to science, expanding the collections of numerous museums and universities, advancing the understanding of the Arctic environment, and mentoring noted scientists … he had a central place on the world stage and hobnobbed with aristocrats and presidents.” In Hanrahan’s characterization, “He had a rich inner life but was lonely, not as a result of circumstances but because that was his nature. He was smart, pragmatic, brave, and stoic. He was also insecure, isolated, given to petulance, and deeply spiritual.” Joan Sullivan, The Telegram, July 14, 2018
"Maura Hanrahan is an author to watch." Telegraph-Journal, Saint John, NB
Re Domino:  
  • "Maura Hanrahan's account blends fictional characters and real-life figures (including a youthful Bob Bartlett of later Arctic sailing fame) who paint a vivid picture of their involvement in a fishery beset with many dangers at the best of times." Canadian Book Review Annual
  • "Hanrahan's presentation of attenuated lives on a bleak and stone-grey shoreline are incredibly evocative and form the clothesline from which flap well-ordered and well-researched historic details." The Northern Mariner
  • "Domino: The Eskimo Coast Disaster is a gripping tale about one of the most horrendous tragedies in Newfoundland and Labrador history." The Navigator
  • "Hanrahan's new book well worth the read." Labrador Life
  • "Maura Hanrahan tells the story well . . ."Messing Around in Boats
  Re The Alphabet Fleet:  
  • "[Hanrahan] breathes new life into old stories." The Muse
  • "The book is graced with excellent maps, great pictures, and a readable text . . . this book is a must on your reading list." Steamboat Bill, magazine of the Steamship Historical Society of America
  Re Tsunami:  
  • "Hanrahan's lively and moving account dramatically recreates the lives of people who survived that fatal day." Canadian Book Review Annual
  • "Using a mix of recreated conversations and historical fact, Hanrahan has crafted an affecting account of a maritime tragedy with a cruel difference." Maclean's Magazine
  • "By overlapping carefully reconstructed narratives, Maura Hanrahan's Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster offers a poignant account of this singular, sad event." Atlantic Books Today
  • "Author Maura Hanrahan tells this remarkable tale with compassion and power, bringing to us a bit of Atlantic history we may not have known anything about . . ." The Chronicle Herald
  Re The Doryman:  
  • "It is a compelling tale filled with tragedy, heroism, tidal waves and August gales." The Telegram
  • "It offers suspenseful and moving moments." Globe and Mail
  • "It's an absorbing tale in which the reader lives the dangerous moments . . ." The Catholic Register
  • "[A] gripping read."  The Aurora
  • "A detailed and engaging story . . ." Newfoundland Historical Society Newsletter
  • "[An] absorbing book . . ." Messing About in Boats
  • "A compelling tale . . ." Enjoy magazine
  Re Sheilagh's Brush:  
  • "Sheilagh's Brush is a deeply moving protrait. . .and delivers a might portrait of women's lives writ large across the blue of sea and sky. I read it in great gulps."  Erica Eisdorfer, author of The Wet Nurse's Tale
  • "A must read." Dian Day, author of The Clock of Heaven
  • "Maura Hanrahan, who returns to the vividness of her 2003 work, The Doryman, acts as anthropologist in this female society where men exist only on the margins." Telegraph-Journal, Saint John, NB
Scroll Top