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.
©2014 Hampton Sides (P)2014 Random House Audio
It is long by audio book standards but it was worth it because of all of the context of the era provided. It helps answer the question "why" that most often comes up when you read or listen to these stories of exploration.
The fact that I don't remember the performance is a good thing. Some audio books are ruined by either droning or the reader trying to do too many voices and accents. This was more or less a straight through narrative reading with inflection in the right places.
The real words from the journals and ship logs made it more touching and personal.
This is a good compliment to all the Antarctic exploration/disaster books. It is hard to believe that not that long ago there were no cell phones, satellites, airplanes, etc. People went on these expeditions with two years of supplies into an unmapped region of our own planet.
Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding novel written about the epic naval expedition to the North Pole taken by 33 men in the late 1800’s. It was believed that a rim of ice circled the top of the globe that, once broken, lead to an warmer “open polar sea.’” The North Pole would then be easy sailing. Their passion for adventure leads them to years and years of survival and endurance in the most extreme of conditions.
Hampton Sides details this adventure in a thriller that had me sneak reading throughout the day and staying up late into the night. His heartfelt portraits of these heroic figures using memoirs, crew’s journals, naval records and private correspondence created unforgettable characters that I soon cared very deeply about.
What an incredible, well told, tale.
A mesmerizing audible book! I couldn't wait to get back into the car for my commute each day to jump back into this well-read heartbreaking true story. I am now hooked on arctic non-fiction!
mother of six
Adventure. Disaster. Triumph.
It's a bit like Unbroken in that you are amazed at what humans can endure, but there are no bad guys, only the elements. The human spirit shines and inspires.
Yes. I loved the cheerful attitude of the men when trekking across the ice. It made me think about adding more cheer to my life, even when things look bleak. You have to trek across the ice anyway, right? Might as well be laughing and singing.
I was impressed by the wealth of historical information. I didn't just learn about the Jeannette, but about life in the late 19th century.
It's a book. We read books because reading is time well spent.
As if the author had written these few hundreds of pages just as a lead in to the ending. If the most interesting part of a movie is when they roll the "where are they now" or similar information at the end . . well, then it wasn't that great a movie. Same here. Ending doesn't save the hopscotch story.
Nothing -- which is PERFECT. That's what I want, to have the narration sound the same as it would in my mind if I were reading. This is a PERFECT narration.
?? This kind of information is not helpful to me if I am looking for others' reactions to a book to see if I want to read it.
I just didn't get to know enough of the characters well enough to really mourn their deaths. The last 1/4 of the book comes off more like a body count than a story.
I have always felt my two favorite audiobooks were "The Man That Ate His Boots" and "The Worst Journey in The World." This is right up there with the best. Like those, it is one I have already listened to multiple times.
For my purposes, yes. Recorded books is my companion while driving.
"Indaunted Courage" by Steven Ambrose is a fine account of the Lewis and Clark expedition. As with this book, it is a straight ahead account of the resilience and nobility of men when put in life or death situations. The reader must wonder how he would stack up... The leaders put the survival of their journals ahead of their own lives. Both books are alive with interesting details of coping with their environments without dramatization. We should thank God for great leaders and the willing workers who trust them.
First class. No emotional fluff. He has a strong voice without any phony empathy inserted.
The "Jeanette" was crushed by the ice and they made their way south on three small boats. After months on the ice and starving they finally landed on the shore in Siberia. The two strongest men were chosen to go ahead to find help as the others, including the captain, were in no condition to travel. They received kindness from natives and even though they were a physical wreck and it was 50 degrees below zero, they went out and lead a rescue team to find their comrades. Such courage is amazing.
There is an account of the whaling ship "Essex" from Nantucket that was written for the congressional record in 1876. The boat was rammed and sunk by a sperm whale in the South Pacific. Melville was inspired to write "Moby Dick" from this incident. The reality was worse.
arctic adventure death
Masterfully written, the author brings together many first person accounts and weaves them together into a seamless whole. It helps, of course, that both Captain and Emma DeLong are fabulous writers in their own right, as is Melville.
Yes, it was difficult to put down. Although towards the end it was so painful to listen to their story, that I had to take breaks.
I will listen to this beautiful, tragic account again. So much history I knew nothing about but now want to learn more. Its amazing to think that such daring people attempted such outlandish exploratory travels for their country's glory and for the desire to discover something new.
DeLong and Melville were incredible, driven individuals. They were unwavering in their discipline, drive, commitment and intelligence. To think that anyone survived, is almost unbelievable but these two men, ensured just that.
Captivating, engaging and sympathetic.
Too many to mention.
I would recommend this to everyone, regardless of the type of prose you prefer. It is an important recount of our history and intriguing to learn about a somewhat forgotten time.
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