Beyond the Barrier

The Story of Byrd's First Expedition to Antarctica

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When this book originally appeared in 1990, it was hailed as an important new work because of the author's access to Adm. Richard E. Byrd's just-released private papers. Previous books on the legendary polar explorer had to rely on sources subject to the admiral's vigilant censorship or the control of his heirs and friends. With this study Eugene Rodgers provides a scrupulously honest and objective account of Byrd's 1929 expedition to Antarctica.

Without discrediting the expedition's success or Byrd's leadership, Rodgers shows that the admiral was not the saintly hero he and the press depicted. Nor was the expedition without its problems. Interviews with surviving members of the expedition together with a wealth of other new material indicate that Byrd, contrary to his claims, was not a good navigator--his pilots usually had to find their way by dead reckoning--and that he was not on the actual flight that discovered Marie Byrd Land. The book further reveals a crisis over drunkenness among the men (including Byrd), the admiral's fear of mutiny, and his rewriting of news stories from the pole to embellish his own image.