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.
Ebook edition includes over a dozen extra images
I’ve read several books about arctic exploration, but none more engrossing than Sides’ telling of the journey of the USS Jeannette. A combination of journal entries, letters and official logs of the exploration allow the reader to get to know some of the main players in getting the expedition funded and the Jeannette crew itself. Sides describes the arctic environment incredibly vividly. I couldn’t put the book down!55
This book was gripping from page one to the very end. Excellent read!55
Fascinating story. Excellently written.55
This was one polar expedition I had never heard about. An epic tale of courage and naiveté, combined with adventurers choosing to believe the “science” that backed their hopes (much like today). Dumb mistakes, bad timing, great passion, and hard effort combined to create a doomed but heroic adventure. I have been to the arctic, and spent many years conducting field work in some tough conditions, but this makes me really admire what those early explorers went through to discover the unknown.55
Thoroughly researched, this was a fascinating read. I happened to finish the book the night I arrived in Annapolis and found that there is a memorial to the exploration on the grounds of the Naval Academy.45
I love reading about polar expeditions, and this is one of the very best. Sat up too late, couldn't put it down!55
It took me few pages to settle in but when I did I could not put it down.45
Starts ok, a bit slow in the middle, gets strong toward the end. I recommend it for readers interested in emotional, historic adventure stories.45
This is by far the most incredible survival story I have ever read. It is well researched and documented with colorful accounts of all involved.55
This is one of the best books I've read in years. Similar to Unbroken, the things these me endured would not be believable if it was a fictional tale. It is a page-turner from the start.55