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Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition by [Buddy Levy]

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Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 757 ratings

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of December 2019: In 1881, American Army officer Lieutenant Adolphus W. Greely and his crew of scientists and explorers set off on an expedition to go as far north as possible—to the Farthest North—and to break the record held by the British for three centuries. While stationed there, Greely’s team established research stations and collected scientific data, all while fighting frostbite, intense darkness, mutinous crew, and packs of marauding wolves. After waiting two years for resupply ships to reach them, Greely took his men on a harrowing journey south to find rescue, travelling over 200 miles with ever-dwindling supplies, the men going so far as to eat their shoes and sleeping-bag covers to stay alive. Levy’s narrative situates the expedition within the complex cultural framework of the late nineteenth century, giving his readers plenty of background to the political decisions that drove the exhibition and the accompanying rescue missions. At the same time, Levy never overburdens his readers in minutiae, deftly telling the harrowing story of Greely and his men and their historic voyage. —Alison Walker


"[An] inspiring and harrowing tale...[Labyrinth of Ice] shows that the past is a foreign country, in earth science as in so many disciplines." ―New England Historical Society

"Buddy Levy, noted for bringing a fine novelist’s sense of storytelling to his narrative histories, tells this difficult but fascinating story with a compassion and vividness often lacking in works of this nature...Labyrinth of Ice is a remarkable book. It should not be missed." ―
Anchorage Daily News

"An engaging, superbly written, and meticulously researched chronicle of the Greely expedition that proves it is one of the most engaging adventure narratives ever. With cinematic prose, great economy of language, and vivid descriptions, Levy places readers in the middle of the action and makes them see the snow, feel the hunger and the tension, and hear the cracking of the ice....
Labyrinth of Ice reads like an outstanding script for an action movie." ―NPR

"An armchair explorer’s dream―all the drama, all the fear, all the steadfastness that fans could want. Unexpectedly, Levy manages also to carve out important space in the narrative for Greely’s wife, Henrietta, who was key to the rescue. An invaluable addition to polar history." ―

"Levy’s masterful use of primary sources from Greely and others create a highly detailed narrative that brings the men and their expedition to life. This gripping book is a testament to the bravery and sheer doggedness of men determined to survive despite harsh conditions." ―
Library Journal

"Evocative, deeply researched...the result is an intense historical adventure with modern-day relevance for the climate change debate." ―
Publishers Weekly

"A graphic tale of horrific deprivation that is sure to be the benchmark account." ―
Kirkus Reviews

"A gripping account of historical adventure and horror that maintains tension from beginning to end, despite the conclusion having been known for more than 130 years. Perfect for fans of Nathaniel Philbrick and Erik Larson." ―Shelf Awareness

[With] all the ingredients for a harrowing armchair adventure." ―
Lewiston Tribune

"Levy paints with pathos a picture of the expedition’s members, from commander to the lowliest private. In these portraits-in-miniature, their character and personalities reveal both the best and worst of humans in crisis: heroism, grit, selflessness, but also dishonesty, disobedience, and callous self-regard. It is a tale as old as time, but never gets old in the telling―and Levy does it superbly.
Labyrinth of Ice takes the reader to the forbidding Farthest North in the best way possible as we avidly turn the pages, sipping hot tea from a cozy, warm chair." ―Open Letters Review

“Polar exploration is utter madness. It is the insistence of life where life shouldn’t exist. And so,
Labyrinth of Ice shows you exactly what happens when the unstoppable meets the unmovable. Buddy Levy outdoes himself here. The details and story are magnificent.” ―Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

“Buddy Levy’s
Labyrinth of Ice is the harrowing saga of A.W. Greely’s doomed polar exploration of 1881. Every page shivers with high-stakes drama and survivalist instinct. There is never a dull moment in this thoroughly researched epic. Highly recommended!" ―Douglas Brinkley, Author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race

Labyrinth of Ice is a must-read for armchair adventurers everywhere. Buddy Levy's research is thorough and his writing fast-paced, making for an epic page-turner."
―Martin Dugard, #1
New York Times Bestselling Author

No one brings the narratives of history to life more brilliantly than Buddy Levy. With laser accuracy, keen intelligence, exhaustive research, exhilarating detail, and genuine compassion, he takes us on wondrous journeys so packed with stunning moments of heroism, hope, fear, and survival that we feel that we are witnessing the events not in the past, but in the present. In Levy's most recent book
Labyrinth of Ice, moments of unimaginable human endeavor, folly, and sacrifice become something more than myth, more than legend, more than history itself: they become an unforgettable part of our own reality." ―Kim Barnes, Author of In the Kingdom of Men and the Pulitzer Prize Finalist In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country

"Few tales of survival against great odds and even greater misfortune can top that of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. Levy has produced a page-turner that tells in fascinating detail the story of Lt. Adolphus Greely―who ranks as one of the 19th-century's most intrepid and ruthless explorers -- and the two dozen men of his command who battled the Arctic elements and each other to try to survive one of the most harrowing voyages of discovery ever recorded."―Tom Clavin,
New York Times bestselling author of Dodge City and The Heart of Everything that Is

"Buddy Levy’s Labyrinth of Ice is a thrilling and harrowing story. If it’s a cliche to say I couldn’t put this book down, well, too bad: I couldn’t put this book down." ―Jess Walter, bestselling author of
Beautiful Ruins

Labyrinth of Ice is another masterful narrative by America's premier historiographer of harrowing, character-baring expeditions into the unknown. A tour de force of vivid detail and voluminous research!" ―Alex Shoumatoff, editor of

“Buddy Levy’s
Labyrinth of Ice is riveting. It’s a true tale of unparalleled discovery, endurance, survival and patriotism, set in one of the world’s most unforgiving places: the Polar North. Levy writes history with a novelist’s timing and describes the stunning landscapes with precise, imagistic language. A gripping, unforgettable story.”―Erik Weihenmayer: Global Adventurer, Speaker, and Author.

--This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07PBPKG8T
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ St. Martin's Press (December 3, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ December 3, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 73123 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 392 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 757 ratings

About the author

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Buddy Levy's most recent book is Empire of Ice and Stone: The Disastrous and Heroic Voyage of the Karluk (St. Martin's Press, 2022).

Levy is the author of nine books and his work has been featured or reviewed in The New York Times, NPR, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Kirkus Book Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, The Daily Beast, The A.V. Club and Library Journal. He was the co-star, for 25 episodes from 2010-2012, on HISTORY Channel’s hit docuseries Brad Meltzer’s DECODED, which aired to an average of 1.7 million weekly viewers and is still airing as reruns today. In 2018 he was an on-camera expert on the 4-part TV Series THE FRONTIERSMEN: The Men Who Built America (HISTORY, Executive Producer Leonardo Di Caprio).

Levy’s book Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition (St. Martins Press, 2019), won the National Outdoor Book Award (2020) and the Banff Mountain Book Award for Adventure Travel Literature (2020). Levy is the author of the National Bestseller No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon (with Erik Weihenmayer; Thomas Dunne Books, 2017); GERONIMO: The Life and Times of An American Warrior (co-authored with Coach Mike Leach, Simon & Schuster, 2014) and River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana’s Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon (Bantam Dell, 2011). His other books include the critically acclaimed and Amazon #1 Bestseller Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs (Bantam Dell, 2008), which he is currently developing for a television series; American Legend: The Real-Life Adventures of David Crockett (Putnam, 2005, Berkley Books, 2006); and Echoes On Rimrock: In Pursuit of the Chukar Partridge (Pruett, 1998). His books have been published in seven languages.

Levy was a contributing writer on the 2018 documentary film The Weight of Water. The film was based in part on the book No Barriers, which Levy co-authored with blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer. The film premiered at the 2018 Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prize and the Best Mountain Film Award. It has since won The People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary at the 2018 Denver Film Festival; Best Sport and Adventure Film at the 2018 Mendi Bilbao Film Festival; and Audience Choice Award at the 2019 Waimea Ocean Film Festival.

As a freelance journalist he has covered adventure sports and lifestyle/travel subjects around the world, including working with TV impresario Mark Burnett on numerous Eco-Challenges, and other adventure expeditions in Argentina, Borneo, Europe, Greenland, Morocco, and the Philippines. His interests are wide-ranging: discovery and adventure, the mountain men, arctic exploration travail, clashes of empires and civilizations, conspiracy theories, and riveting human stories of survival.

You can find Buddy Levy on Instagram (buddy.levy), Twitter @buddylevy and Facebook

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
757 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 5, 2022
Customer image
5.0 out of 5 stars Levy's depth of knowledge and expert storytelling creates a one of a kind reading experience.
By Jason on October 4, 2022
This review will be split into two brief sections, the first on the content of the book and Levy's writing and the second on shipment and the condition of the book. The TLDR of both is that they were first class.

The Book's Quality and Levy's Writing.

The book is phenomenal and is perfectly characteristic of Levy, someone I know to be a great nonfiction writer. It is clear that the author is firmly ensconced in a wide abundance of careful research on the topic of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881-1884. However, many historians and nonfiction authors have knowledge of the subject matter they cover, what sets Buddy Levy apart is his excellent storytelling ability that makes the events of his books flow like a novel. I was first introduced to Levy through his 2011 book, River of Darkness, in which he details Francisco Orellana's journey down the Amazon river, becoming the first European to do so. That book so enthralled me in Buddy's telling of history that I took a chance on Labyrinth of Ice and never looked back. I have now purchased two more of his books and I pre-ordered his newest book set to release this December. This book really is a rare 10/10, and if you are on the fence, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Shipping and Condition.

This section pertains more to Amazon's end than to Levy's, but I must say that it was also excellent. The book arrived in good time and in good condition. Although the attached photos are a bit misleading, as I tend to mangle books as I read them. When the book arrived at my door it was in mint condition. This process too was a 10/10, a rating much more common for shipment and condition than for a book's content, but Levy is a rarity in that way.

Thanks for an excellent book Buddy, if you chance upon reading this, you're one of a kind!
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Top reviews from other countries

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, very readable account of the Greely Polar Expedition of 1881-1884.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on January 29, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars RIVETING STORY
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 25, 2021
Regnal the Caretaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Arctic- the deadly trap.
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on April 29, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it !!
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 19, 2020
John A.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on April 4, 2022
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