An impassioned vindication of the luckless Dr. Frederick A. Cook whose claim to conquest of the North Pole has been discredited by the National Geographic Society and the rest of the ""exploring establishment."" Cook was robbed, cheated and all but crucified says Eames -- by the egomaniacal Commodore Peary who was, so to speak, America's official candidate for the honors with power and money behind him. Eames does a scrupulously careful job of examining the evidence for latitudinal one-upmanship between the two explorers who became such bitter enemies. He makes a good circumstantial case for Cook but there are problems: apparently both men were inculpated in fraud -- doctored photos, puzzling inaccuracies in logbooks. But Eames' Cook is always the idealistic innocent while Peary (see Rawlins below) exhibits full-blown paranoia when any other arctic explorer trespasses on ""his"" glaciers. And certainly from the testimony of Amundsen, the straight-arrow Norwegian, Cook seems the more decent, judicious man. Unfortunately for Eames, several years after Cook's explorations he became a speculator in Texas oil and was eventually sent to Leavenworth for -- you guessed it -- fraud. (There he took up embroidery.) Once again his champion exonerates him as an honorable man trapped among sharks; indeed ""in the history of American democracy. . . its most uniquely grand and somehow royal person, its Prince of Losers."" Whatever you think of the hyperbole and Cook's alleged victimization, the book (like Reginald Pound's Scott of the Antarctic, 1967) ought to convince you that the polar explorers were all, each in his own way, a little bonkers.