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The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk [Paperback]

Jennifer Niven
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 10 2001
The Karluk set out in 1913 in search of an undiscovered continent, with the largest scientific staff ever sent into the Arctic. Soon after, winter had begun, they were blown off course by polar storms, the ship became imprisoned in ice, and the expedition was abandoned by its leader. Hundreds of miles from civilization, the castaways had no choice but to find solid ground as they struggled against starvation, snow blindness, disease, exposure--and each other. After almost twelve months battling the elements, twelve survivors were rescued, thanks to the heroic efforts of their captain, Bartlett, the Ice Master, who traveled by foot across the ice and through Siberia to find help.

Drawing on the diaries of those who were rescued and those who perished, Jennifer Niven re-creates with astonishing accuracy the ill-fated journey and the crews desperate attempts to find a way home.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Eighty-five years after a famous but ill-equipped Canadian Arctic expedition of 1913 had sacrificed 16 lives, some artifacts appeared on an Internet auction site. They had originated at a "ghost camp," discovered in 1924, where four of the expedition's 28 men, one woman, and two children had perished. Jennifer Niven has completed the unfulfilled mission of survivor William McKinlay to produce a "more honest and revealing account" of the wreck of the Karluk and its aftermath.

The explorers became split into several dispersed groups living "in the shadow of death." Their simultaneously grim and gruesome experiences are interwoven in this minutely detailed and atmospheric retelling, created by combining and comparing firsthand accounts and other sources. The characters are vividly re-created, from the expedition's self-interested leader, whom McKinlay called "a consummate liar and cheat," to the heroic ship's master, who struggled over 700 miles to organize a rescue. Supplemented by haunting and fascinating photographs, The Ice Master makes for harrowing and compulsive reading. This is a momentous story of the Arctic; of adventure, misadventure, and the heights of human endurance. But it is also a story of human failings and the waste of young lives, as poignant now as it was when it was big news in 1914. --Karen Tiley, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition was perhaps the worst-planned arctic exploration in history. The captain declared the ship unfit for the voyage upon seeing it, and the crew consisted of young sailors who had no arctic experience, and scientists who would be better off teaching in a classroom than searching for an undiscovered arctic continent. Niven's first book, unlike the voyage, is well-researchedDand it's thorough. Screenwriter Niven captivates with her reconstruction of the doomed crew's efforts to survive the harshness of the polar winter, disease, hunger and their own clashing personalities. She expertly captures the feelings of the crew about their situation and about each other, and meticulously recounts the daily activities of the 25 crew members (11 survived), during their long stay as castaways on a small arctic Island. The story does read slowly at points, especially near the beginning of the book. The pace picks up as the book progresses, with the most exciting part being the heroic account of the captain's 700-mile trek from the crew's camp to Siberia in search of a ship that he could use to rescue his men.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The island was a no-man's-land, little more than a mountainous slab of rock high above the Arctic Circle. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a deserter and a hero Dec 25 2009
By Marc Ranger TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Karluk's story really is one of a deserter and a hero. The expedition leader Stefansson, realizing his old and run-down vessel will not carry him to the promise land (being trapped in ice), desert ship and left Robert Bartlett holding the faith of the crew in his hand.

Barlett, a couragous, ressourful man takes it upon himself to save those under him, by leading a desesperate walk over the ice-flow to Wrangel Island. What makes this desesparate struggle stand apart from other Artic or Antarctic adventure is that 3 of the men under Bartlett (James Murray, Dr Allister Mackay and Henri Beauchat) thought they knew better and slipt rank. Murray (Endurance) and Mackay (Nimrod) had served under Shackelton and coudn't bear being ordered by a "lesser" man like Bartlett (who himself served under Peary).

Result? Bartlett saved most of the men under him and the trio of deserters was never heard of again...
Bartlett ultimatly had to leave most of his charges on Wrangel Island, while he and an Eskimo ally made an extraordinary, unbelievable journey through Siberia, Bering Strait and Alaska to get help.

Bottom line, The Ice Master is a Master of a book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely riveting! June 24 2008
By M. Pack
Format:Hardcover
Think you've had a hard day at work? Think again! Have a read of this wonderfully written book and may you never complain again.

Spellbinding in tale and composition... a fabulous job of writing the tale of a practically unimaginable story of hardship and endurance.

The only other book I've read of equal impact concerning the hardship of making a living "on the ice" is "Death on the Ice", by Cassie Brown. The mere fact that "Ice Master" compares with "Death on the Ice" is reason enough to read it.

Get this book, read it, and you can thank me for recommending it later.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than fiction. Sept. 10 2006
Format:Paperback
This is one of those books where you can't put it down until you read one more page, and then it becomes two, and then ten. Excellent book. I would not hesitate to read another offering by this author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Tue Survival Story - well told! April 5 2004
Format:Paperback
I haven't read a book from cover to cover in years. I picked this one up and could not put it down. The other reviews provide a nice summary of the story, so I won't repeat them, but I just wanted to "vote" here to give this my TOP rating. The haunting, cold, survival story has the added dimension that it is a true story - assembled from the diaries and interviews of the actual people who this happened to. This would make for a wonderful PBS movie, or a mini-series
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Tue Survival Story - well told! April 5 2004
Format:Paperback
I haven't ready a book from cover to cover in years. I picked this one up and could not put it down. The haunting, cold, survival story has the added dimension that is is a true story - assembled from the diaries and interviews of the actual people who this happened to. This would make for a wonderful PBS movie, or a mini-series
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! No other Non-Fiction work like it! April 23 2003
Format:Hardcover
I was mesmerized from the first page. Jennifer Niven's narration and superior writing skills have brought this piece of history alive in this fantastic book. I highly recommend it. I am anxiously looking forward to her sequel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Karluk or Endurance ? Feb. 10 2003
By rusgc
Format:Paperback
Great read for any artic Exploration or adventure reader. Comparison to Endurance and the Shackleton story are incredibly interesting. They ocurred at the same time frame, at opposite ends of the Globe. The contrast in leadership between the 2 leaders, or lack there of, is gripping.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awe inspiring!!! Jan. 31 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book was absolutely fabulous!!! Ms. Niven is truly an incredible writer. Her descriptions of the men, the families and the conditions tugged at my heart like no other story I've come across. This must become a movie!!!!
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