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.
I could not put my iPod down once the voyage started. However, be aware that there are hours of listening in preparation, and a review of who is in the crew before we ever see the USS Jeannette take to the seas.
Commander George DeLong takes charge of 32 crew members on their voyage; all having the highest expectations that this would be a successful trip. After all, the Jeannette was reinforced in every way possible to ensure barging through the ice would be no problem. There were enough supplies and food on board to last well through the anticipated trip. The crew was carefully picked to make sure there was a good mix of quality and knowledgeable men.
However, nothing could have prepared them for being trapped in the ice for years. Like so many North Pole expeditions of that time period, it was a struggle just to survive. After the Jeannette is trapped in the ice, DeLong deserves a lot of credit for keeping his crew in good spirits through some of the most horrific and grizzly injuries and freezing conditions you can imagine.
If you like this type of historical adventure, it is well worth a credit. Very well written and the narration is great.
Pretend for a moment that this is a forum for ALL opinions, and that sometimes a person is trying to be *helpful* by sharing their personal experience of the book even when they know it probably won't be popular. Hey, that takes guts. I know this will be an unpopular view (WTH...I am getting hammered with the No Help button lately no matter what I write). It's possible to like a book, recommend it, and yet see some areas that may be problematic for some readers. [Ones like me that sometimes have the attention span of Daffy Duck.]
I'm a fan of historic exploration novels -- from Alone on the Ice, Astoria, Dead Wake, Endurance, Savage Harvest, The Last Place on Earth, even this author's very good Blood and Thunder, just to name a few -- and this is a grand one. My only slight complaint (or should I say warning) is that it took 15 1/2 hrs. to gain 2 hrs. of momentum. The details were for the most part necessary and fascinating, but were at times, just more details, 20-30 more pages. The ice of the Arctic sea simply made quick work of all preparations that went on for pages and pages. That's not to say it isn't a terrific listen, and well worth the purchase (and 2/3's the time).
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.
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.
Cool story it just took forever for the it to unfold. I think I was over halfway thru the book and they hadn't entered the arctic yet. I actually forgot I hadn't finished the book. When I returned to listening as the second half of the book unfolded and really the last quarter I finally got mesmerized by the story, conditions to survive and perseverance of the men. Glad I followed through and finished.
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!
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.
Sparked my desire to learn more of the history of this period and this region of the world.
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