The controversy about Peary and Cook at the North Pole has fascinated me for many years. Neither explorer had enough evidence to prove his claim conclusively. In other words: no rehashing of so-called facts in logs and journals, no measuring of shadows on grainy photos will ever solve the problem. In 1991 I published the biography Robert E. Peary – An American Dream of the Pole. To date this is the only book about the discoverer’s colorful life ever published in German.
Researching Peary’s life and writing his biography brought me to the conclusion: if a factual report is impossible – try fiction. Or – fantasy! I decided to let an appropriate narrator tell the North Pole saga, one who is well known as a travel liar: Karl May. His novels about long and adventurous imaginary voyages in the American West - which he never visited – got generations of readers hooked - not only in Germany, but the world over. His fictitious Apache chieftain Winnetou is a true personality to May’s readers, not just a literary or movie character. That’s how I came to write a novel about Karl May discovering the North Pole: In den Schründen der Arktik. The book was published in Leipzig in 2003. Read an English version of the first chapter.