In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette (Hardcover)
Jenny's Book Review for Off The Beaten Path: During the 1870s, ice floes in the Arctic wilderness were vast and unknown. Maps proved sketchy and ill-conceived. Prevailing theories about ocean currents remained unconfirmed. A mystic notion of warm open waters teeming with wildlife at the North Pole was alive and well.
#George Washington De Long and his crew of 32 sailed for the North Pole armed with obsession for uncharted discovery and the deep pockets of a narrative-hungry newspaperman. Their ship carried early renditions of Bell’s telephone, Edison’s light bulb and a certain faith that science would guide their way. Throughout “In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette,” Hampton Sides lays bare the arduous progress of a heroic journey and the enduring spirit of an innovative nation. His narrative history creates nothing short of a gripping Arctic thriller.
#While we brace ourselves for climate change’s 21st-century parting of the Arctic seas, Sides takes readers on a formidable journey toward a 19th century North Pole so invincibly bound up in ice we feel the Jeannette’s doom from the start. Sides summons the essence of unrelenting ice while building riveting characters onboard and abroad. Looming suspense wrangles readers’ nerves during the harrowing voyage and a hellish trek across the Siberian ice (a fate which this short recap shall not reveal). Needless to say, the appearance of John Muir somewhere around the Arctic Circle sweetens a historic narrative already rich in impeccable detail.
#Sides talks about “In the Kingdom of Ice” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library. This free event is part of the library’s ongoing Author Series. He is bringing a slideshow, and undoubtedly a treasure trove of juicy research that was left on the cutting room floor as he condensed this epic, page-turning history.— From Jenny's Picks
Wendy's Staff Pick (September 2014): This book tells the gripping true story of the ill-fated USS Jeannette, which set sail for the Arctic in 1879. It’s a tale peopled with larger-than-life characters questing for glory. They end up in a life-and-death struggle for survival. Very well-written.— From Wendy's Picks
August 2014 Indie Next List
“Sides tells more than a fateful story of exploration, he brings to life an entire era of discovery and the passions that drove it. We meet a wild newspaper magnate who, in addition to racing carriages at midnight in the nude, exiled himself to France after drunkenly urinating in his then-fiancee's grand piano; an obsessive German cartographer who staunchly believed in a warm, open polar sea at the North Pole; and a strong-willed captain who fell madly in love with the impossible, glaciered grandeur of Earth above the 80th parallel. The meeting of these three eccentric minds led to the voyage of the USS Jeanette, and Sides tells the ship's tragic story well in cinematic prose with a keen sense of his characters and their changing world.”
— Michael Wallenfels, University Book Store, Seattle, WA
New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age
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. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores. James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. 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.
About the Author
HAMPTON SIDES is an award-winning editor of Outside and the author of the bestselling histories Hellhound on his Trail, Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers.
“This is an astonishingly good story, told by one of the best storytellers of our age. Alone, the tale of the USS Jeannette is darkly gripping. In the hands of Hampton Sides, it is impossible to put down, packed with irresistible characters and incredible moments of horror and heroism. As soon as I finished it, I flipped to the first page and began reading it again.”
- Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of The Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt
“Hampton Sides has written a dazzling page-turner. Full of unforgettable characters and vividly described scenes, In the Kingdom of Ice breathes fresh, exuberant, and very personal life into the polar adventure story that once riveted the world.”
- Nathaniel Philbrick, New York Times bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea, Bunker Hill and Sea of Glory
"Drawing on lost letters and diaries, first-hand experience of the polar landscape, and his own masterful storytelling skills, Hampton Sides conjures the doomed USS Jeannette and her courageous crew with haunting power. As the drama escalates—on ice, sea, and land—the characters of these men and their extraordinary, gallant leader loom larger and larger. The reader is drawn into the ice from the first page and will not want to leave until the fate of every man is known."
- Caroline Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The Endurance and The Bounty
"Hampton Sides is one of America’s most expansive and engaging storytellers, and he proves it again with the incredible saga of the USS Jeannette. In The Kingdom of Ice is far more than the tale of a polar expedition gone awry. Sides has brought together an absolutely marvelous cast of characters – daring and dangerous and more than a little preposterous – to tell not just a classic adventure story, but to shine a fine light on that bizarre American era known as the Gilded Age. All works of history should be half this much fun."
- Scott Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Lawrence in Arabia
“Hampton Sides masterfully recounts one of the greatest and most harrowing adventures of all time. In the Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale not only of a journey into the Arctic but also into the very nature of man.”
- David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z
Hampton Sides has written an arctic thriller, an authentic narrative masterpiece that I put down only reluctantly and willingly gave up sleep in order to finish. I had to find out what happened to these remarkable men in that wide and desolate sea of ice.
- S.C. Gwynne, New York Times bestselling author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell
"Hampton Sides' many gifts include his ability to make readers feel the bracing cold of Arctic winds and the smoldering heat of separated lovers. This extraordinary book overflows with heroic characters and bursts with insight into a young nation flexing its ambitions on a global scale. The result is narrative nonfiction history at its very best. In the Kingdom of Ice has earned a place among the great sea adventure stories."
- Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times bestselling author of Frozen in Time and Lost in Shangri-La.
“Another crackling tale of adventure from journalist/explorer Sides...this one focusing on a frigid disaster nearly 150 years ago… A grand and grim narrative of thrilling exploration for fans of Into Thin Air, Mountains of the Moon and the like.”
- Kirkus (Starred Review)