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, although theories abounded. 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.
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, $28.95, from Doubleday, is available at Lake Forest Book Store, 847-234-4420.