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Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick
Sea of Glory is the story of the greatest sea expedition undertaken by the United States, the South Seas Exploring Expedition, that began in 1838. It's four-year exploration of the Pacific Ocean and Antarctica returned a trove of geographic and scientific knowledge, and its artifacts were used to begin the Smithsonian Institution. Its legacy was buried because of the behavior of the expedition's leader, naval officer Charles Wilkes. His arrogance, paranoia, indifference, and maltreatment of his officers and crew rendered the expedition a scandal, despite all its achievements. Nathaniel Philbrick re-creates the details of the expedition in all its glory and mismanagement. The Rocky Mountain News says, "Sea of Glory goes beyond the conflict between man and nature with added layers of struggle -- the U.S. versus the European powers, man versus man, science versus politics and, in Wilkes' case, man versus himself."