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The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk Paperback – Oct 10 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (Oct. 10 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786884460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786884469
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #199,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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, --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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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
It amazes me how ignorant and unprepared some of the early artic explorers were.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Books like this make me wonder what is in the head of some people. To leave your perfectly warm and comfortable house and job to spend two years tromping around the arctic in a cramped old boat, eating food that mostly resembles dog food, and being permanently cold - are you kidding me? I must just be a wimp, because this is exactly what this group does and of course the plan goes sour about as soon as they are out of reach of any help. I guess the book would not be that interesting if everything worked.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Those TV "survivors" have nothing on these guys! An amazing true story, "The Ice Master" details the misadventures of the ill-fated Karluk and her hapless crew on an early 20th century scientific research expedition gone awry. Searching the Arctic for a phantom continent, the expedition leader abandons his entire company when their ship becomes icebound off the Alaskan coast. Left to fend for themselves with limited supplies, few resources and not quite sure where they are, the crew quickly reduce to their true natures. Some are gallant, some are less so and some are downright nefarious. How each man plays a part in his own fate, as well as the fate of others, is the most captivating part of the story.
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.
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