Wanderlust: An Eccentric Explorer, an Epic Journey, a Lost Age (Hardcover)
The mesmerizing, larger-than-life tale of an eccentric adventurer who traversed some of the greatest frontiers of the twentieth century, from uncharted Arctic wastelands to the underground resistance networks of World War II.
Deep in the Arctic wilderness, Peter Freuchen awoke to find himself buried alive under the snow. During a sudden blizzard the night before, he had taken shelter underneath his dogsled and become trapped there while he slept. Now, as feeling drained from his body, he managed to claw a hole through the ice only to find himself in even greater danger: his beard, wet with condensation from his struggling breath, had frozen to his sled runners and lashed his head in place, exposing it to icy winds that needed only a few minutes to kill him… But if Freuchen could escape that, he could escape anything.
Freuchen’s life seemed ripped from the pages of an adventure novel—and provided fodder for many books of his own. A wildly eccentric Dane with an out-of-nowhere sense of humor, his insatiable curiosity drove him from the twilight years of Arctic exploration to the Golden Age of Hollywood, and from the burgeoning field of climate research to the Danish underground during World War II. He conducted jaw-dropping expeditions, survived a Nazi prison camp, and overcame a devastating injury that robbed him of his foot and very nearly his life. Through it all, he was guided not only by restlessness but also by ideals that were remarkably ahead of his time, championing Indigenous communities, environmental stewardship, and starting conversations that continue today.
Meticulously researched and grippingly written, Wanderlust is an unforgettable tale of daring and discovery, an inspiring portrait of restlessness and grit, and a powerful meditation on our relationship to the planet and our fellow human beings. Reid Mitenbuler’s exquisite book restores a heroic giant of the last century back into public view.
Reid Mitenbuler is the author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey and Wild Minds: The Artists and Rivalries That Inspired the Golden Age of Animation. His writing has appeared in Air Mail, The Atlantic, Slate, Saveur, the Daily Beast, and Whisky Advocate, among other publications. He lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles.
"An absolute joy...Wanderlust is a compelling introduction to one of the most charismatic explorers to ever cross the ice." — New York Times Book Review
"Writing with panache and insight, Reid Mitenbuler serves up the many faceted life of Peter Freuchen." — Washington Post
"This book oozes cold, hunger, and fear, but also joy, love, and triumph." — The Times (UK)
“This adventure story is impossible to resist.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Drawing on thousands of pages of memoirs, diaries, letters, travelogues, and novels, journalist Mitenbuler creates a vivid portrait of Danish explorer, writer, anthropologist, and ethnographer Peter Freuchen (1886-1957)… A colorful, well-researched biography.” — Kirkus Reviews
"They don't make 'em like Peter Freuchen anymore. Something of a cross between Zelig and Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World," he seemed a man out of myth, a peg-legged giant wandering from the frozen ends of the planet to Hollywood to Nazi-occupied Europe — showing unfathomable physical and moral courage in equal measure. The pleasure of reading Wanderlust is second only to hearing these tales by the fireside from Freuchen himself. Actually, probably better, because you can actually trust Reid Mitenbuler, whose assiduous research enriches his delectable prose. This is a book to get lost in." — Julian Sancton, author of Madhouse at the End of the Earth
"An engrossing and delightful new biography...Wanderlust skillfully evokes a time and place that feel impossibly romantic and epic compared to our own but also shot through with danger, hardship, and the grotesque....Drawing on historical records, interviews, and Freuchen’s own prodigious writing, Mitenbuler gives a lively and comprehensive history of Freuchen’s life and rapidly changing times." — Washington Examiner
"Peter Freuchen’s long and colorful life was so extraordinary it nearly defies belief. With great flair and flourish, Reid Mitenbuler captures all of Freuchen’s remarkable adventures—as an explorer in the Arctic; as a struggling writer in Hollywood; as a wartime resister and outspoken foe of fascism during World War II—in astonishing detail, and with a compelling series of scenes and surprises. If you’re interested in how to live a life without regret, you will not want to miss Wanderlust." — Jon Gertner, author of The Ice at the End of the World
"Mitenbuler's prose strikes just the right tone, easygoing but thrilling, filled with compelling detail." — Star Tribune