Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Unravelling the Franklin Mystery, Second Edition: Inuit Testimony

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Unravelling the Franklin Mystery, Second Edition: Inuit Testimony

Article excerpt

David C. Woodman, Unravelling the Franklin Mystery, Second Edition: Inuit Testimony (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015), 420 pp. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4541-0.

Woodman takes his readers on a journey in this book that challenges the popular narratives about the disappearance of the 1845 Royal Navy expedition to the Arctic under the command of Sir John Franklin. Drawing upon Inuit testimonials about the exploration and its two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, Woodman uses his book as a tool to exemplify the vital importance of Inuit traditions in the reconstruction of events involving Arctic explorers during the 1845 expedition and the searches for it. It should be noted that this is a republication, not a rewrite of Woodman's 1991 Unravelling the Franklin Mystery (p. xvi). As such the book is unchanged from the 1991 edition with the exceptions of a preface and minor changes to pages 300 and 301 regarding the number of boats at a location where evidence was located by explorers and Inuit (p. xvii). There are, however, two points which are useful for consideration when contemplating Woodman's interpretation of the evidence and testimony.

First, there is controversy about the quality of the Inuit testimony recorded because there were differences in the language skills and effort made by those interviewing Inuit people. Woodman heavily references the testimony gathered by Charles Francis Hall but he acknowledges that explorers, such as Stefansson, 'concluded that, despite his many years with the Inuit, Hall had gained only a superficial knowledge of their language' (p. …

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