Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition

St. Martin’s Press. Dec. 2019. 400p. maps. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781250182197. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250182203. HIST
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.

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