Chronicles the life of Peter Freuchen, an eccentric Dane whose curiosity and thirst for adventure, guided by ideals remarkably ahead of his time, took him from the twilight years of Arctic exploration to the Danish underground during World War II.
Mitenbuler paints Freuchen as the rare explorer who saw the world’s remote corners not as territory to be conquered but as a place to call home. Although narratively clumsy, it is a charming portrait of a man who traveled the world with an open mind ... This second half of his life could have been covered in a few chapters or even a lengthy epilogue, but Mitenbuler stretches it out for almost 200 pages. Even so, Wanderlust is a compelling introduction to one of the most charismatic explorers to ever cross the ice.
Wanderlust is at times a rollicking book about a remarkable life, but Mitenbuler runs into two problems. First, for all his adventures, Freuchen was mostly a supporting character ... Second, Mitenbuler is often so caught up in Freuchen’s frenetic movements that he seldom pauses to make enough sense of them, or the 'lost age' of early-20th-century exploration in which Freuchen moved ... we see everything passing at high speed, but I kept wanting more stocktaking and introspection, both from Freuchen himself and from Mitenbuler. Still, Wanderlust made me envious of the time and the man.
Detailed, digressive and frequently fascinating ... Mr. Mitenbuler emphasizes that Freuchen was as palatable to current sensitivities as any old-school explorer could be. Still, he frequently criticizes his subject, Danish officialdom and the past in general for not attaining our current heights of enlightenment. It is hard not to suspect that Mr. Mitenbuler set out on his epic biographical journey with a sensitivity reader at his shoulder. These censorious interruptions are the literary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall.