New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age. Winner of the 2014 BookBrowse Award for Nonfiction.
Winner of the 2014 BookBrowse Award for Nonfiction
New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age
In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores.
James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever."
The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Less than an hour later, the Jeannette sank to the bottom,and the men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice - a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.
With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.
Prologue : Baptism by Ice
On a misty morning in late April 1873, the Tigress, a steam barkentine out of Conception Bay, Newfoundland, was pushing through the loose floes and bergs off the coast of Labrador, heading for the seasonal seal-hunting grounds. Late in the morning, the Tigress encountered something strange: A lone Inuit in a kayak was hailing the ship, waving his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs. The native man was clearly in some kind of trouble. He had ventured much farther out into the perilous open waters of the North Atlantic than any Eskimo ordinarily would. When the Tigress pulled closer to him, he yelled, in accented English, "American steamer! American steamer!"
The crew of the Tigress leaned over the railings and tried to decipher what the Inuit was talking about. Just then, the fog parted enough to reveal, in the middle distance, a jagged floe piece, on which more than a dozen men and women, plus several children, appeared to be trapped. Seeing the ...
The book is obviously well-researched; the author goes well beyond studying materials others have collected, choosing to travel to the most remote locales mentioned in the story and obtaining source material (much of it previously unknown) directly from modern-day relatives of those involved. Sides' first-hand knowledge of the environs provides another layer of authenticity to an already exceptionally well-written narrative.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (922 words).
In the Kingdom of Ice concerns an ill-fated 19th century expedition to the North Pole.
There are actually two North Poles — a geographic North Pole and a magnetic one. The geographic North Pole is recognized as the northernmost point on the earth's surface, and is the axis point around which the earth spins. It's 450 miles north of Greenland in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.
The magnetic North Pole is approximately 100 miles south of the geographic pole and due north of Canada's Sverdrup Island. It is not fixed and moves on a daily basis; it was first recorded in 1831 hundreds of miles from its current location (82.7° North & 114.4° West in 2005). Because of this, compasses must be regularly adjusted to take into ...
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