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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
For readers who found Shackleton's tale Endurance the least bit interesting, have we got a book for you! Jennifer Niven's masterful debut is the harrowing true story of yet another doomed expedition of yesteryear -- but the locale is the Arctic, and the history more tragic. Anxious to reach the polar ice cap first, noted explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson launched "the grandest and most elaborate Arctic expedition in history, the most comprehensive scientific attack on the Arctic of all time." But the scientists and crew of his ill-fated ship were not provided with training in Arctic survival nor with any of the polar clothing earlier promised.
In June 1913, HMCS Karluk set sail from Victoria, British Columbia; less than six weeks later, the boat was trapped by ice and clearly would not move again until the spring thaw. Stefansson (no hero he) chose a dozen of the best sled dogs and set off "to go hunting," accompanied by his personal secretary, the expedition photographer, and an anthropologist. The ship's captain understood at once that "they had been abandoned." And only days after Stefansson's departure, "a fierce gale carried the ship deep into the heart of the Arctic Ocean." Niven's riveting, hair-raising account is all the more real because she has assembled this astonishing work from the journals kept by the abandoned scientists and crew. Niven's assiduous research and her unprecedented access to the last living survivor as well as to the descendants of other survivors, lend an immediacy and credibility to The Ice Master that are, in a word, extraordinary. (Winter 2001 Selection)