In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

14 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 17½ hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780307966568. $45; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
OrangeReviewStarSides's (Hellbound on His Trail) latest nonfiction thriller is a spellbinding account of the U.S. Navy's ill-fated 1879 expedition to the North Pole. The author explains that many respected 19th-century geologists believed warm ocean currents combined to create what they called the "Open Polar Sea" at the North Pole. James Gordon Bennett, the wealthy, flamboyant publisher of the New York Herald who sponsored Henry Morton Stanley's 1871 hunt for David Livingstone in Africa, approached naval officer George W. De Long about leading a voyage to this mysterious oasis at the top of the world. Hoping for publicity for his newspaper, Bennett financed the voyage of the USS Jeannette, though the expedition was officially a navy operation. Attempting to reach the Open Polar Sea via the Bering Strait, the Jeannette became trapped in the ice for two winters. The wooden steamship was eventually crushed, and De Long and his crew set off across 1,000 miles of ice fields for Siberia, showing inspirational courage in the face of unimaginable peril. Narrator Arthur Morey offers a brilliant performance; his readings from the crew's journals and the letters from Emma De Long to her husband are especially moving.
VERDICT Recommend this high-adrenaline, impressively thorough history to fans of adventure fiction as well as nonfiction. ["This title will appeal to adventure fans and recreational readers interested in polar exploration, Gilded Age society, or naval history," read the review of the Doubleday hc, LJ 6/15/14; a "More of the Best 2014" pick.]

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