Cover image for Ultima Thulé : explorers and natives in the polar North
Ultima Thulé : explorers and natives in the polar North
Malaurie, Jean.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ultima Thulé. English
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2003]

Physical Description:
399 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 35 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G743 .M33713 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Ultima Thule is the terrible and yet fantastic story of European and American exploration in the polar north. Based on excerpts from the explorers' logs counterbalanced by Inuit testimony, it brings to life both sides of the clash that arose when white men arrived in the Far North, dreaming of conquest and believing that they brought with them a civilization superior to that of the indigenous peoples they found. Today, the outlook for the Inuit and the polar environment is bleak: the people and their landscape are in danger of disappearing for good. But according to Jean Malaurie, the situation is not altogether without hope.

Heavily illustrated with period photographs, engravings, artifacts, and drawings, the book gives the readers the impression of having an entire museum of North Pole history in their hands.

Author Notes

Jean Malaurie, who has been an Arctic explorer and geographer since the age of twenty-six, spent a year sharing the daily life of the Inuit in 1950. On his return to Europe he published The Last Kings of Thule Today he lives in Paris and is the author of several books on the Polar regions

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Striving to be the ultimate coffee-table book on the Arctic; its white explorers; and the Inuits, the northernmost native people on Earth, this work succeeds grandly. With its breathtaking illustrations, extensive sidebars (largely diary entries, historical documents and ethnographic material) and a condensed history of Arctic exploration and Inuit life, it's hard to imagine anything better. It's also hard to imagine anything bigger (10" x 14"), heavier (over six pounds) or more expensive ($75), a perfect example of what CD-ROMs were supposed to replace. French explorer and geographer Malaurie became an ethnographer of the Inuit people after his extended stay in the early 1950s, where he witnessed and then exposed the establishment of a secret American nuclear base in the Inuit capital of Thule, which devastated the tiny native population. Here, he traces the history of despoliation, beginning with the first Arctic explorer to encounter the Inuit (Captain Ross in 1818) and ending with himself and the revival of Inuit life. Each chapter in between is devoted to Arctic explorers and their expeditions in chronological order. Malaurie's version of anthropology reverses the roles of savage and civilized, and his historical accounts of Arctic expeditions' murder, mutiny and mysticism are always fascinatingly told in surprisingly clear and comprehensible prose. Period photographs, engravings, artifacts, maps and drawings help demystify the unknown Arctic. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Polar explorer Malaurie has written extensively on the North Pole, previously authoring Call of the North and the best-selling The Last Kings of Thule. Here he provides further understanding of explorations in the northern environment and the role of the Inuit people over the centuries. Using extensive research, he profiles such notable explorers as John Ross, Sir John Franklin, and Elisha Kent Kane, as well as the more recent journeys of Knud Rasmussen, Ernest Shackleton, and his own. Through this venue, Malaurie delves into a wide range of topics, including anthropology, history, and the environment, relying heavily on supporting materials. Readers are transported into the past and left with newfound insight into the world of polar exploration. The visual component of the book is equally rewarding as some brilliant photography is scattered throughout. Recommended for any library and well worth the financial outlay.-Jo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

History of the Exploration of Northwest Greenlandp. 4
Introductionp. 6
Captain John Rossp. 20
Sir John Franklinp. 48
Captain Edward Augustus Inglefieldp. 51
Erasmus Yorkp. 58
The Upernaallitp. 60
Elisha Kent Kanep. 74
Isaac Israel Hayesp. 94
The Last Migration of the Inuitp. 106
Charles Francis Hallp. 110
George Strong Naresp. 128
Hans Hendrikp. 140
Baron Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskjoldp. 153
Lieutenant Adolphus Washington Greelyp. 154
Admiral Robert Edwin Pearyp. 174
Third Metamorphosis of the Inuitp. 214
Dr. Frederick Albert Cookp. 220
Ludvig Mylius-Erichsenp. 242
Knud Rasmussenp. 254
Peter Freuchenp. 286
Lauge Kochp. 302
Lord Edward Shackletonp. 314
Erik Holtvedp. 322
Jean Malauriep. 332
The Fantasy World of the Inuitp. 370
Epilogue: Thule 2000p. 374
Chronology of the Polar Eskimos, 1616-2000p. 394
Indexp. 397
Glossaryp. 398
Bibliographyp. 399