Simmons rides herd on a massive round-up of the Arctic's aerial explorers, meanwhile giving a passing glance at Antarctica. Dr. Simmons is a linguist and has discovered much out-of-the-way material in Russia, Italy and Norway from newspapers, reports and books long out-of-print. While the essential interest for readers is adventure and discovery (man against the elements), Dr. Simmons' theme is ambition. For the first half of this century, men like Admiral Peary and Roald Amundsen set out to discover the North and South Poles, respectively, simply because they were there. Their achievements (by dogsled) represented little advancement scientifically, and Peary's claims are in part suspect. The first aerial pioneer was a Swede and two companions who set out in a huge balloon to locate the Pole. After much bad luck they made a forced landing 288 miles into the North and were never heard of again for 30 years, when their remains were discovered along with a remarkably complete record of their trip. This account covers flights of dirigibles, which are noble, disastrous and absorbing. The first arctic flights in a plane, by the way, were made by a Russian. A book to fill in records and reverse some judgments.