• Ada Blackjack

  • A True Story of Survival in the Arctic
  • By: Jennifer Niven
  • Narrated by: Laural Merlington
  • Length: 14 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In September 1921, four young men and Ada Blackjack, a diminutive 25-year-old Eskimo woman, ventured deep into the Arctic in a secret attempt to colonize desolate Wrangel Island for Great Britain. Two years later, Ada Blackjack emerged as the sole survivor of this ambitious polar expedition. This young, unskilled woman - who had headed to the Arctic in search of money and a husband - conquered the seemingly unconquerable north and survived all alone after her male companions had perished.

Following her triumphant return to civilization, the international press proclaimed her the female Robinson Crusoe. But whatever stories the press turned out came from the imaginations of reporters: Ada Blackjack refused to speak to anyone about her horrific two years in the Arctic. Only on one occasion - after charges were published falsely accusing her of causing the death of one her companions - did she speak up for herself.  

Jennifer Niven has created a compelling history of this remarkable woman, taking full advantage of the wealth of firsthand resources about Ada that exist, including her never-before-seen diaries, the unpublished diaries from other primary characters, and interviews with Ada's surviving son. Ada Blackjack is more than a rugged tale of a woman battling the elements to survive in the frozen north - it is the story of a hero.

©2003 Jennifer Niven (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Ada Blackjack

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A wonderful woman

I write this as a native Alaskan who knew of vilhjalmur stefansson and nothing of Ada Blackjack. The story starts slowly, but is thrilling in it’s detail. It gives much on the ethno-culture of the adventurers and nothing of Ada’s. This would have enlightened the culture clash on Wrangel. Some mispronunciations of Alaska names!

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Amazing Story

I loved it. I could picture what was happening by the authors excellent writing. What a brave woman and the men who went to discover the artic. Just a fantastic story. I also really liked the narrator.

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What a tale

Incredible story, although the telling of which feels a little dry after reading some other tales of arctic exploration. Overall if you’re interested in the topic I think you’ll enjoy the book.

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Great true story

I recommend looking into Ada Blackjack’s story, but this audiobook is not the way. The narrators voice sounded digital to me. There were some weird pauses and pronunciations of words. I gave it a 2 hour try, but there were too many issues while listening.
There is a 3 part podcast (Against the Odds) telling the Ada story if you want an audio version, or get the physical book.

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Hero of the first order

Well written the undivided Spirit and undying love for her children and struggle for survival makes this book a great read!!

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Someone we should be learning about in school!

Loved this story. I particularly live how the last section of the book is devoted to what happened after the exploration. If it didn't include that, I would have been on the internet for hours.

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I call her an Inupiaq.

What a story to inspire the young agnaqs to pursue their independence and spirit of adventure. Ada unknowingly placed in naulimiu history, her legendary fierceness as an Inupiaq agnaq. I wish she profited more but am glad she lived to a ripe old age.

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  • David R Jeffries
  • 09-27-20

Captivating from start to finish

After I had come to terms with the politically incorrect use of the term Eskimo, this historically true story was ‘unputdownable’.
The quantity of narration and I think the selection of the narrator was excellent.
Recommended listening !

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  • Riikka Soininen
  • 04-13-22

Really liked

I have heard Ada Blackjack story before, and expected to learn more, and I did. Author paints a believable image of elusive Ada, how she left and survived arctic, and press later, ang lived staying true to her own values. What a reluctant heroine, devoted mum, so much poverty and illness in her life. I don't think she ever had any treatment for her trauma, but those who knew her thought highly and kindly of her.

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Profile Image for Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir
  • Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir
  • 04-14-21

Fantastic book for anyone interested in the Arctic

This book is well written, interesting, educational, an important part of the history of Arctic explorations. I loved it and I think everyone should read/listen to it.