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White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen's Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic

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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  131 ratings  ·  29 reviews
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 revea ...more
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Da Capo Press (first published February 15th 2012)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  131 ratings  ·  29 reviews


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Michael
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 ethnograp ...more
Nancy
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
"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 Rasmussen

Enthralling. 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
...more
Max Carmichael
Feb 06, 2016 rated it liked it
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 soug
...more
Kristen
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Several years ago, I read The 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
...more
Joanne-in-Canada
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 l
...more
Jenna Kathleen
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Polly Krize
Nov 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 stor
...more
Noelle Walsh
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Outstanding description of an Arctic explorer's journey. I very much enjoyed it.

this was a goodreads giveaway
Tom Johnson
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Katie
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
John Benson
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 iden ...more
Michael McCue
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
San Diego Book Review
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jeremy
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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 b ...more
Dave Hoff
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
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, hunti ...more
Matk Vogler
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Leslie
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Perhaps I should've read one of Rasmussen's books instead, and might still. What an interesting life, but this book is dry and I think the author glossed some of Rasmussen's personal life to make his subject look good: For instance, Rasmussen (who was married and barely knew his kids because he was always off exploring) had a relationship with Anarulunguaq, the Inuit woman on the Fifth Thule Expedition, but this fact gets one sentence, as an aside, in a chapter covering events after the expediti ...more
Eugenia
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is hard to find books about Knud Rasmussen and/or Greenland in English, plus Rasmussen is a somewhat "forgotten"explorer in comparison to well known Nansen or Amundsen.
This book is an absolute gem! It's very well researched, engaging and reads like a novel.
Rasmussen is a fascinating character with a quite different personality and a life story from the other great explorers (ex., Nansen, Amundsen, and Co.) The book makes him come alive as a wild and romantic man, maybe reckless, maybe with co
...more
William
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a recent birthday gift from my daughter. I enjoyed it --the first half in particular which describes life in Greenland (an area of which I knew very little). Although I come from the North (Yukon), I knew almost nothing about the Inuit and the Eastern Arctic North. My travels, knowledge of the people and places really ends with the Taiga forests in the the central Yukon/ Alaska. Greenland, the Canadian Arctic Islands, the NWT Arctic coast with its peoples, living conditions, etc we ...more
Grant Godfrey
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mark Christian
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really long title

Its an interesting read. Mostly about the Canadian wilderness explorers of the 1800s. Certainly describes the adventures of a few historical characters.
Steve
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 important ...more
Steven
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 Inuktit
...more
Leah
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Extremely well written. Great history on Knud, Inuit culture and heritage, and the Arctic.
James Morfopoulos
rated it really liked it
Apr 18, 2018
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I am a critically acclaimed author of nine literary non-fiction books on the history of science, exploration and ideas. I take a biographical and narrative approach to my writing, using the techniques of fiction writing – strong storytelling, creative language, emphasizing people, their decisions, actions and motivations – to tell factually and historically accurate stories.
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