This is the story of Richard Byrd, all-American hero, arctic
explorer and society swell. Set against the backdrop of "roaring
twenties" New York, at its centre is a race to be the first to fly
to the North Pole - a perilous feat at the edge of technological
possibility. Byrd's competitors in the race are Roald Amundsen,
Scott's South Pole nemesis, now bankrupt and tarnished by dubious
business dealings - and a crazed Italian airman named Umberto
Nobile. Amundsen, Ellsworth and Nobile are setting off from
Spitzbergen when Byrd arrives with a plane donated by Edsel Ford.
Byrd takes off, returning 151/2 hours later having apparently won
the race. The news of his extraordinary achievement is flashed
around the world making Byrd the most famous man in America -
President Coolidge personally awards him the Congressional Medal of
Honor. Byrd goes on to success after success. Amundsen and Nobile,
by contrast, are ruined. But things can still get worse. The
following year Nobile flies to the Pole on a mission sanctified by
the Pope. The airship crashes on the drifting ice and Nobile and
his group are stranded with nothing to eat but each other.
Ironically, Amundsen responds to an appeal to rescue him. His
mission ends in tragedy and horror. Years later the posthumous
discovery of Byrd's 1920s diaries produces a revelation that throws
the whole story into the most darkly ironic of lights and changes
our view of history. Was his fame the proceed of a pact with the
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