GoodReads Review - In the Kingdom of Ice
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful book about a forgotten time and a remarkable crew.
In The Kingdom of Ice, Hampton Sides tells the story of the captain, crew, supporting characters of the US. Arctic Expedition and USS Jeannette. The expedition's goal was to be the first humans to reach the North Pole.
Let me guess, you never heard of it. Few have, but it was an international story in the 1880s. The US. Arctic Expedition had everything going for it. It was well-funded by the US. Government and wealthy benefactors. It had the latest technology advances including advanced navigation and electric lights. And it had a proven leader and dream team of experienced Arctic explorers. Depiste all these advantages, it failed.
Or did it? It certainly failed to reach the North Pole, which is why the Jeanette isnt a well known name today. But, it certainly expanded our knowledge of the Arctic and resolved many myths about the polar region. It is also a rousing good adventure story about the limits of technology and the importance of good leadership .. . and its limits.
Sides is an exceptional storyteller. This is his first book I have read, and it wont be my last. Historical non-fiction an be dull at times, but the best ones craft the facts into a compelling story. I purposely avoided did not research the details of the expedition, even though I knew its general fate. I found myself fascinated by George DeLong and his family, Mellville and the Jeanette's crew, and even Bennet. Sides' tale left me wanting more. And I eagerly googled additional information after finishing the book.
There have been some stories in my life that have stayed with me; true tales that I have never forgotten. This is now another one.
Next time I am in Annapolis, I plan on visiting the USS Jeanette and DeLong Monument.
I would highly recommend this book if you have any interest in the Arctic, the late 19th century (fascinating time of change, like our own), or the Navy. It will be well-worth your time.
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