Mr. Owens has been a reporter for The New York Times and as a member himself of the expedition to Antarctica, he has written accurate, well paced accounts of the Byrd and Peary explorations. The book is divided in two halves, the first, less colorful, about Peary's Greenland trips, the second, more colorful, about Byrd. In 1884 Peary was a civil engineer in Nicaragua, thinking a little bit about the possibilities of a canal through that country's lake-spotted territory, but by 1898 he had made several trips north, discovered that Greenland was an island, and established a position from which he made the last leg of the polar journey in 1909. The description of Byrd's journeys which culminated in the first polar flight in 1929 is far more revealing as to polar terrain, the hardships the men had to overcome, the characters of the men themselves. A sense of American destiny and heroism inclines to over-sentimentalize both stories but the facts are there in readable texts.