Books to avoid, if you can at all help it
This is just our opinion, but you can't say we didn't warn you.
Antarctic Navigation, by Elizabeth Arthur, © 1995.
It is our humble opinion that Antarctica doesn't need fiction because the real stories are fascinating enough. We also tend to require the heroes of our books to be at least a little likable. Given that this book is fiction and the narrator is incredibly annoying and self-satisfied, it is a wonder we even got through it at all. Relatively easy to find (in fact, we'll sell you our copy)..
Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition, by Caroline Alexander, © 1997.
Caroline Alexander is a good historian, but did Shackleton's expedition really need to be told from the cat's point of view? There are a few books that can pull off anthropomorphic narrative, but the Endurance expedition seems neither the right event nor the right cast of characters for this type of storytelling. Since the cat was killed before most of the actual adventuring began, the suggestion that this style of writing might serve to cultivate an otherwise uninterested reader's curiosity in the Endurance doesn't quite fly. Perhaps Alexander was trying to use this technique to give us more insight into the personalities of the crew, but it seems to us to be just an excuse to bad mouth Orde-Lees. Readily available.
Ice Blink, by Scott Cookman, © 2000.
Not so much history as a book of fanciful assertions as to what happened on the Franklin expedition of 1845. Having convinced himself that they all died of botulism forced upon them by a Dickensian blackguard cannery owner and cheapskate Admiralty, Cookman (rather unfortunately named, we think, for an author choosing to write about cannibalism) dives right into plenty of details that couldn't possibly be proven and are only rarely preceded by qualifiers like "possibly" and "might have been." Since no diaries, journals or letters survived, Cookman relies on details imported from other sources of the same time period, which is precisely why the canned food provider ends up as a caraciture of equal parts Uriah Heep, Scrooge and Simon Legree. The afterword ("Anatomy of a Disaster") is a defensive little chapter that compares Franklin to Captain Scott while, in the process, absolving them both of any blame for their expedition's failure. In Franklin's case, we agree that he was pretty much a puppet of the Admiralty, but to proclaim that Scott's decision to take a 5th man to the pole made "eminent sense" really just proves Cookman to have written a Victorian fantasy. Readily available.