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Captain Mac: the Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer



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 Captain Mac relates the story of a remarkable man who spent nearly 50 years exploring the Arctic. Growing up near the ocean, and orphaned by 12, MacMillan forged an adventurous life. The book features the vital role he played in Robert Peary's 1908-1909 North Pole Expedition, a four-year-long expedition (1913-1917) that proved there is no land near the North Pole, and the expedition he led in 1925 which pioneered the use of radio and aircraft in Arctic exploration. MacMillan's Navy career spanned both world wars, and he became a rear admiral in the U.S. Naval Reserve. The biography focuses on his long and distinguished career, including daring adventures, contributions to environmental science and to the cultural understanding of eastern Arctic natives. MacMillan worked with explorers Peary, Matthew Henson, and Richard Byrd, as well as many scientists and students who sailed with him aboard his Arctic schooner. The book includes a map and many photographs.
"Mary Morton Cowan has brought Arctic explorer Donald B. MacMillan back to life with this lively account of his adventurous career. From his boyhood as the son of a ship's captain in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to his many years spent in far northern Greenland, readers will share the thrilling highlights of his life as an explorer, researcher, and teacher. Cowan conveys MacMillan's love for the people and places of Labrador, Baffin Island, and Greenland, and readers will come to appreciate them as well. Meticulously researched, this book tells a compelling and inspiring story that will be enjoyed by many young readers."
Genevieve LeMoine, curator/registrar
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center
Bowdoin College

   from Chapter 6

        Driving dogs over the frozen ocean was much harder than sledging over land. Sea ice constantly rumbled and cracked. Mac could feel it shake beneath him. Tremendous tidal pressure smashed all sizes of ice chunks against each other in jumbled heaps. Millions of tons of ice piled up in mammoth ridges, some as high as a four- or five-story building. Mac and the Inughuit in his party had to chop their way over the roughest ones with pickaxes. Shoulders aching, they pulled and yanked their sledges to keep them from slipping back. At times they had to lift their heavy sledges over jagged ice chunks. Mac unhitched his dogs so they wouldn't get crushed by his loaded sledge when it tumbled down the other side.
   from Chapter 8
        One day, Mac spotted a large walrus herd feeding. Men took off in their kayaks! Excited, Mac grabbed one, too. If anyone had ever warned him that walrus were dangerous, he forgot. He paddled past Hunt and Esayoo, an Inughuit. All around him walrus grunted and spit muddy water when they surfaced to breathe. Mac drove his paddle deep and surged forward. Whoa! Right beside him, a walrus snorted. In a flash, Mac jabbed his harpoon through its thick skin and deep into its chest. The animal let out a violent roar. In a frenzy, it splashed and churned the water into a bloddy froth. By now, the rest of the herd was bellowing threats.
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