In the Kingdom of Ice
In the Kingdom of Ice
The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 9780385535373, 454pp.
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
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.
“This is an astonishingly good story, told by one of the best storytellers of our age. Alone, the tale of the USS Jeannette is darkly gripping. In the hands of Hampton Sides, it is impossible to put down, packed with irresistible characters and incredible moments of horror and heroism. As soon as I finished it, I flipped to the first page and began reading it again.”
- Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of The Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt
“Hampton Sides has written a dazzling page-turner. Full of unforgettable characters and vividly described scenes, In the Kingdom of Ice breathes fresh, exuberant, and very personal life into the polar adventure story that once riveted the world.”
- Nathaniel Philbrick, New York Times bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea, Bunker Hill and Sea of Glory
"Drawing on lost letters and diaries, first-hand experience of the polar landscape, and his own masterful storytelling skills, Hampton Sides conjures the doomed USS Jeannette and her courageous crew with haunting power. As the drama escalates—on ice, sea, and land—the characters of these men and their extraordinary, gallant leader loom larger and larger. The reader is drawn into the ice from the first page and will not want to leave until the fate of every man is known."
- Caroline Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The Endurance and The Bounty
"Hampton Sides is one of America’s most expansive and engaging storytellers, and he proves it again with the incredible saga of the USS Jeannette. In The Kingdom of Ice is far more than the tale of a polar expedition gone awry. Sides has brought together an absolutely marvelous cast of characters – daring and dangerous and more than a little preposterous – to tell not just a classic adventure story, but to shine a fine light on that bizarre American era known as the Gilded Age. All works of history should be half this much fun."
- Scott Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Lawrence in Arabia
“Hampton Sides masterfully recounts one of the greatest and most harrowing adventures of all time. In the Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale not only of a journey into the Arctic but also into the very nature of man.”
- David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z
Hampton Sides has written an arctic thriller, an authentic narrative masterpiece that I put down only reluctantly and willingly gave up sleep in order to finish. I had to find out what happened to these remarkable men in that wide and desolate sea of ice.
- S.C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell
"Hampton Sides' many gifts include his ability to make readers feel the bracing cold of Arctic winds and the smoldering heat of separated lovers. This extraordinary book overflows with heroic characters and bursts with insight into a young nation flexing its ambitions on a global scale. The result is narrative nonfiction history at its very best. In the Kingdom of Ice has earned a place among the great sea adventure stories."
- Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times bestselling author of Frozen in Time and Lost in Shangri-La.
“Another crackling tale of adventure from journalist/explorer Sides...this one focusing on a frigid disaster nearly 150 years ago… A grand and grim narrative of thrilling exploration for fans of Into Thin Air, Mountains of the Moon and the like.”
- Kirkus (Starred Review)
In the Kingdom of Ice tells the story of a "grand and terrible" 19th-century expedition into uncharted Arctic waters. Of the 33 men who set out, only 13 made it home after a truly harrowing voyage. More at NPR.org
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