EventsAuthor Talk: Darrell Hartman - Battle of Ink and Ice: A Sensational Story of News Barons, North Pole Explorers, and the Making of Modern Media

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Author Talk: Darrell Hartman - Battle of Ink and Ice: A Sensational Story of News Barons, North Pole Explorers, and the Making of Modern Media

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Central Library in Copley Square


A sixty-year saga of frostbite and fake news that follows the no-holds-barred battle between two legendary explorers to reach the North Pole, and the newspapers which stopped at nothing to get–and sell–the story.

Join us for a discussion with Darrell Hartman about his new book Battle of Ink and Ice: A Sensational Story of News Barons, North Pole Explorers, and the Making of Modern Media. Boston Public Library Research Specialist in Media and Journalism Erica Husting will serve as moderator. Following the conversation, there will be time for audience Q&A. Starting at approximately 7:00 PM, an author signing facilitated by Trident Booksellers and Cafe will close the program.

About the book

"Absolutely gripping… a perfectly splendid read—I highly, highly recommend it” — Douglas Preston, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Lost City of the Monkey God

In the fall of 1909, a pair of bitter contests captured the world’s attention. The American explorers Robert Peary and Frederick Cook both claimed to have discovered the North Pole, sparking a vicious feud that was unprecedented in international scientific and geographic circles. At the same time, the rivalry between two powerful New York City newspapers—the storied Herald and the ascendant Times—fanned the flames of the so-called polar controversy, as each paper financially and reputationally committed itself to an opposing explorer and fought desperately to defend him.

The Herald was owned and edited by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., an eccentric playboy whose nose for news was matched only by his appetite for debauchery and champagne. The Times was published by Adolph Ochs, son of Jewish immigrants, who’d improbably rescued the paper from extinction and turned it into an emerging powerhouse. The battle between Cook and Peary would have enormous consequences for both newspapers, and help to determine the future of corporate media.

Battle of Ink and Ice presents a frank portrayal of Arctic explorers, brave men who both inspired and deceived the public. It also sketches a vivid portrait of the newspapers that funded, promoted, narrated, and often distorted their exploits. It recounts a sixty-year saga of frostbite and fake news, one that culminates with an unjustly overlooked chapter in the origin story of the modern New York Times.

By turns tragic and absurd, Battle of Ink and Ice brims with contemporary relevance, touching as it does on themes of class, celebrity, the ever-quickening news cycle, and the benefits and pitfalls of an increasingly interconnected world. Above all, perhaps, its cast of characters testifies—colorfully and compellingly—to the ongoing role of personality and publicity in American cultural life as the Gilded Age gave way to the twentieth century—the American century.

About the author

Photo Credit: Peter Crosby

Darrell Hartman has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Paris Review, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and Granta. He holds a B.A. in literature from Yale University and is a member of The Explorers Club in New York. A native Mainer, he now lives with his wife, Dana, in the Catskills region of New York.

About the moderator

Erica Husting is a journalism and media specialist at The Boston Public Library. Her work focuses on teaching workshops and developing programming about media and news literacy, journalism, and civic engagement. Erica holds a MLIS from University of Washington and a BS in journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA. Before her career in libraries, Erica worked in the public relations field.

Accessibility Notice: We strive to make our events accessible. To request a disability accommodation and/or language services, please contact the Adult Programs Department at or 617-859-2129 by November 7. Please allow at least two weeks to arrange for accommodations.

Programming like this is enabled through the generosity of a variety of public and private funding. To learn more and support our programming, visit the Boston Public Library Fund website.

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