Peter Freuchen first rose to prominence as an Arctic explorer in the early twentieth century, but during his long adventurous life he wore many other hats, becoming a best-selling author, working in Hollywood, and being imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp for being a member of the resistance.
I like exploration stories. They introduce you to an old world that no longer exists, they have the kinds of details that boggle the mind, and are usually populated with exactly the eccentric kinds of people you’d imagine enjoy traveling to the most challenging and remote places on the planet. As such, I was perfectly happy to settle down with this comprehensive biography of Peter Freuchen.
I’d never heard of Freuchen before, and as I began to read it became perfectly clear why – though he led a long and adventurous life, he often played second-fiddle on expeditions and things to better publicized explorers. Still, I became fond of his larger-than-life personality and commitment to his personal values. The author goes into depth about his personal life and relationships, showing how deeply he became entrenched in Greenland.
However, I did wish the author had grappled more with the negative aspects of Freuchen’s life. While we spend plenty of time discussing his forward-thinking nature and positive points (of which there are plenty), any grey-shaded or negative aspects (how he did not raise his own children for long periods of time, his expectation that Inuit women during the filming of Eskimo should have been sexually receptive to him, etc.) were not really dug into or discussed, making me feel a bit robbed of a more well-rounded and therefore more interesting portrait of the man.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.