In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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.
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.
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|Listening Length||17 hours and 30 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 05, 2014|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #12,015 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#2 in Arctic & Antarctic History
#13 in Ship History (Books)
#14 in Arctic & Antarctica History
Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2016
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James Gordon Bennett is newspaper owner who specializes in the outrageous and not altogether true stories.
Captain George Washington DeLong made his name for a daring attempt made to reach survivors of a ship that was destroyed by ice in the Arctic when he was still a Lieutenant in the US Navy. The Arctic got into his blood, something that surprised him, and he spent several years studying and plotting to get back there – but as the captain of his own expedition this time.
Bennett becomes very interested in the Arctic and agrees to fund DeLong’s expedition to the North Pole. They consult the latest maps and scientific data. They meet with the eminent scientists of the day and gather data that is suspect by today’s standards. (From our point of view we can see that some of the ideas put forth at the time were outrageous at best and some of them were downright dangerous. )
Before they set sail on July 8, 1879, DeLong is ordered by his superiors at the US Navy to check on a fellow explorer at Bennett’s behest. DeLong is furious for he knows the other explorer is not yet overdue and most likely is fine. But he must follow orders, so he takes the time to look for the other man’s party. He misses him by a mere week, but of course doesn’t know it. He finally gets the work from some native Alaskans that they have seen him and he had sailed away already. DeLong has lost some time and fears the worst.
As they head north through the Bering Strait, they find their first trouble. DeLong and the rest of the crew (for the most part), take their difficulties in their stride. The thirty-two men seem to get along fine aside from some petty jealousies and rivalries.
The Jeanette was to spend several months trapped in the ice pack. The men kept up their spirits though, and there was some game – polar bears, seals and such – that came close enough to the ship that the crew was served occasional fresh meat. An island was spotted that caused much excitement. Some of the crew came down with lead poisoning. (How they kept up their spirits in all this is beyond me. It was a sure testament to the human drive to thrive.)
With the breaking up and sinking of the Jeannette, all thirty-three men took to the ice along with their dogs. DeLong had been anticipating it for some time, so they had sufficient time to offload the most important items for the long trek ahead of them.
What follows is a story filled with horror, hardship and severe privation. My heart goes out to the brave men who undertook this expedition knowing very well what might lay in store for them.
This book is excellently written. Mr. Sides gives a detailed explanation of the search for and refurbishing of the Pandora, soon to become the Jeannette. He fully describes and illustrates all of the main characters, Delong, Bennett, Petermann and several men of the crew and officers. His research must have been exhaustive. Very well done and I recommend this book to anyone interested in arctic exploration, adventure or just for a very good read.
The pain and suffering these men endured following their ship being encased in ice over a period of years is simply beyond description. The reader can only imagine to some extent what these individuals went through as their bodies suffered from freezing, lack of nourishment, long periods of no daylight, and having to walk carrying their equipment across ice and blizzard conditions. Not only did they have to carry their equipment but they had to do it a little at a time and then walk back to where they left what remained and carry another amount to where they left the previous amount.
What remained of the group managed to take their boats and land at the mouth of the Lena River in the Russian area of Siberia where some managed to survive thanks to Russian individuals living in this remote area to the town of Yakutsk which was a location where people who were banished from civilization were relocated.
The book concludes with what happened to the surviving individuals in their later lives. It's a cliche to say a book is hard to put down but this book of 410 pages of text rolled along freely as told in a skillful manner by author Hampton Sides. The experiences as told in this book are best dealt with in a recliner rather than in the unforgiving wilds of the Arctic.
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On that note, anyone who reads this has to wonder if the voyage of the USS Jeanette was worth the sacrifice and hardship. Certainly, there was a lot of noble thought, but in the end, how much was gained? It's hard to tell.
There is a lot to thin about here. I would highly recommend.
Gives few clues as to the fate of the characters until near the end of the book so maintains its interest in the outcome of their unbelievable journey. Reminded me of Shackleton's boat journey. Very highly recommended.