"Buddy Levy, noted for bringing a fine novelist’s sense of storytelling to his narrative histories, tells this difficult but fascinating story with a compassion and vividness often lacking in works of this nature...Labyrinth of Ice is a remarkable book. It should not be missed." Anchorage Daily News
"An engaging, superbly written, and meticulously researched chronicle of the Greely expedition that proves it is one of the most engaging adventure narratives ever. With cinematic prose, great economy of language, and vivid descriptions, Levy places readers in the middle of the action and makes them see the snow, feel the hunger and the tension, and hear the cracking of the ice....Labyrinth of Ice reads like an outstanding script for an action movie. A riveting, engaging read packed with superhuman feats, incredible journeys, amazing discoveries, tension, heartbreak, and constant danger. It is also a true taleand that makes it a book that demands to be read." NPR
"An armchair explorer’s dreamall the drama, all the fear, all the steadfastness that fans could want. Unexpectedly, Levy manages also to carve out important space in the narrative for Greely’s wife, Henrietta, who was key to the rescue. An invaluable addition to polar history." Booklist
"Levy’s masterful use of primary sources from Greely and others create a highly detailed narrative that brings the men and their expedition to life. This gripping book is a testament to the bravery and sheer doggedness of men determined to survive despite harsh conditions." Library Journal
"Evocative, deeply researched...the result is an intense historical adventure with modern-day relevance for the climate change debate." Publishers Weekly
"A graphic tale of horrific deprivation that is sure to be the benchmark account." Kirkus Reviews
"A gripping account of historical adventure and horror that maintains tension from beginning to end, despite the conclusion having been known for more than 130 years. Perfect for fans of Nathaniel Philbrick and Erik Larson." Shelf Awareness
[With] all the ingredients for a harrowing armchair adventure." Lewiston Tribune
"Levy paints with pathos a picture of the expedition’s members, from commander to the lowliest private. In these portraits-in-miniature, their character and personalities reveal both the best and worst of humans in crisis: heroism, grit, selflessness, but also dishonesty, disobedience, and callous self-regard. It is a tale as old as time, but never gets old in the tellingand Levy does it superbly. Labyrinth of Ice takes the reader to the forbidding Farthest North in the best way possible as we avidly turn the pages, sipping hot tea from a cozy, warm chair." Open Letters Review
“Polar exploration is utter madness. It is the insistence of life where life shouldn’t exist. And so, Labyrinth of Ice shows you exactly what happens when the unstoppable meets the unmovable. Buddy Levy outdoes himself here. The details and story are magnificent.” Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington
“Buddy Levy’s Labyrinth of Ice is the harrowing saga of A.W. Greely’s doomed polar exploration of 1881. Every page shivers with high-stakes drama and survivalist instinct. There is never a dull moment in this thoroughly researched epic. Highly recommended!" Douglas Brinkley, Author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race
"Labyrinth of Ice is a must-read for armchair adventurers everywhere. Buddy Levy's research is thorough and his writing fast-paced, making for an epic page-turner."
Martin Dugard, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
No one brings the narratives of history to life more brilliantly than Buddy Levy. With laser accuracy, keen intelligence, exhaustive research, exhilarating detail, and genuine compassion, he takes us on wondrous journeys so packed with stunning moments of heroism, hope, fear, and survival that we feel that we are witnessing the events not in the past, but in the present. In Levy's most recent book Labyrinth of Ice, moments of unimaginable human endeavor, folly, and sacrifice become something more than myth, more than legend, more than history itself: they become an unforgettable part of our own reality." Kim Barnes, Author of In the Kingdom of Men and the Pulitzer Prize Finalist In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
"Few tales of survival against great odds and even greater misfortune can top that of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. Levy has produced a page-turner that tells in fascinating detail the story of Lt. Adolphus Greelywho ranks as one of the 19th-century's most intrepid and ruthless explorers and the two dozen men of his command who battled the Arctic elements and each other to try to survive one of the most harrowing voyages of discovery ever recorded."Tom Clavin, New York Times bestselling author of Dodge City and The Heart of Everything that Is
"Buddy Levy’s Labyrinth of Ice is a thrilling and harrowing story. If it’s a cliche to say I couldn’t put this book down, well, too bad: I couldn’t put this book down." Jess Walter, bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins
"Labyrinth of Ice is another masterful narrative by America's premier historiographer of harrowing, character-baring expeditions into the unknown. A tour de force of vivid detail and voluminous research!" Alex Shoumatoff, editor of DispatchesFromTheVanishingWorld.com
“Buddy Levy’s Labyrinth of Ice is riveting. It’s a true tale of unparalleled discovery, endurance, survival and patriotism, set in one of the world’s most unforgiving places: the Polar North. Levy writes history with a novelist’s timing and describes the stunning landscapes with precise, imagistic language. A gripping, unforgettable story.”Erik Weihenmayer: Global Adventurer, Speaker, and Author.
A blow-by-blow account of the Greely Expedition to the northernmost polar regions from 1881 to 1884.
In the lore of Arctic exploration, the Greely Expedition, aka the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, holds a special place. Named after its commanding officer, Lt. Adolphus Greely, the expedition, comprised of 24 scientists and explorers, achieved the distinction of making a documented foray to the farthest north, but it also carried accusations of cannibalism during its last days afield before rescue. In this highly detailed account, Levy (River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon, 2011, etc.) makes full use of all the writings—journals, books, and articles—that the expedition spawned. The adventurers wanted to establish a chain of research stations to collect data on the region, and they also set out to search for survivors of the USS Jeannette expedition, which had disappeared two years prior. Furthermore, they sought to "attain Farthest North, an explorer's holy grail of the highest northern latitude, which had been held by the British" for three centuries. Levy does a remarkable job of keeping things lively despite the crush of detail ("it carried a load of five thousand pounds of coal (in thirty-nine bags), gear, and men, drawing five feet of water"). When Greely finally decides to make a dash for it, having waited in vain for two years for supply ships to rendezvous with his team, the author comes into his own, grippingly chronicling their harrowing journey. Through the bitter cold and long nights, the men slogged in retreat south, suffering frostbite so bad that one explorer pleaded, "Oh, will you kill me? Please." They ate the soles of their boots and, later, "nothing but a few swigs of water since eating the last of Greely's sleeping bag cover." Levy presents the evidence for cannibalism in a balanced manner, and he does a solid job situating the expedition's scientific achievements in the history of polar exploration.
A graphic tale of horrific deprivation that is sure to be the benchmark account.
The 1881–84 Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, often referred to as the Greely Expedition, was a scientific mission to collect Arctic magnetic, astronomical, and meteorological data as part of the first International Polar Year. Because of his leadership abilities, Lieutenant Adolphus Greely was selected to head the mission. While gathering data, the Expedition also set records for the farthest North in 1882, and farthest West in 1883. Levy (No Barriers) explores how Greely's orders required the expedition to journey south if no relief ships arrived in 1883. What follows is a harrowing trip, sometimes via ice, to a hastily constructed wintered camp. When rescue arrives in June 1884, only seven of the 25-man expedition remain, and one dies on the voyage home. Levy's masterful use of primary sources from Greely and others create a highly detailed narrative that brings the men and their expedition to life. VERDICT This gripping book is a testament to the bravery and sheer doggedness of men determined to survive despite harsh conditions. Readers of polar histories, U.S. Navy history, and other armchair adventurers will enjoy this work.—Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Lib., IN