The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk Paperback – Oct 10 2001
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The 1913 voyage of the Karluk north fits that mold. Many of the crew were not trained and had never been in harsh winter conditions. Supplies were bought and stowed haphazardly. The very ship worried the captain as being unworthy and not suited to travel in the ice. The leader bought second hand winter gear at rummage sale prices to save money and cheap pemmican that was not tested for purity.
After the ship stuck fast in the ice north of Alaska, the leader, a shameless man named Steffansson, abandoned the crew to head over the ice toward land. He did not go for help, but left so that he could continue to pursue his own egotistical goal of finding new lands above the Arctic Circle. That left the men (and one woman and two children who were part of an Eskimo family) at the fate of Captain Bartlett.
Fortunately, the Captain was a man of courage and character. His one great flaw happened early on, but was fatal. He knows his ship was not up to the journey north. Why an experienced captain like himself agreed to proceed is a mystery, but it was fortunate for the eventual survivors that he did. (Had he chosen not to captain the ship, Steffanson would have found another captain, probably made of lesser stuff than Bartlett.)
Bartlett would provide the authority, example and leadership that allowed half the crew to survive a winter on the ice and many months camped out on the most god-forsaken island in the world, Wrangle Island.Read more ›
So the boat is stuck and then crushed and these guys all build little icehouses and hope to tough out the winter eating this horrible meat cake stuff they brought with them. Well you guessed it, about a day into this situation they start to fight, separate into different groups and finally just head off in different directions. What surprised me is that so many of them lived to tell about it thus the documents the author used for the book.
The book really moves along very well. She describes the cold so well you get chills just reading about it. The richness of her descriptions lets you really understand what happened, but the detail does not slow the book down at all. It moves fast right up to the end. This is an interesting book that any adventure reader will enjoy.
It is unimaginable to me that men, women and children could be stranded on an ocean of ice with limited resources and yet still survive. This is an incredible story of human ingenuity and pure force of will defeating circumstance and nature. Niven takes care with her documentation and cites books, diaries and personal interviews in her notes. A well-written and compelling read.
Most recent customer reviews
Love this author - I read her other book Ada Blackjack - Both are wonderfully done - very well written.Published 1 month ago by Laura O'Reilly
This is a super account of a flawed exploration who showed perseverance by a few men.... riveting and spellbinding....an exciting story.Published 6 months ago by Edward G.
Great true story of perseverance and courage. I can not imagine myself in the same situation. A year living with only ice. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Rudy
It's not often that a story consumes me beyond the actual minutes I'm reading but this one did. The hardships these men endured are unimaginable and the detail described in this... Read morePublished 16 months ago by David R. Foster
very interesting story from 100 years ago. Quite the tale of human struggle and survival. I really enjoyed it.Published 22 months ago by Chris D Ouellette
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... Read more
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. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2006 by Melvin Scott
I haven't read a book from cover to cover in years. I picked this one up and could not put it down. Read morePublished on April 4 2004 by John D Hillmer