By endurance we conquer Sir Ernest Shackleton's family mottoThe tree has been dragged to the curb The lights are all packed The wrapping paper has been recycled All the new toys have been forgotten by the children, who are already asking for newer toys Christmas is over The long dark of the year has begun The other day I had the following conversation with my five yearold It started when I asked her if she could sing something other than Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer You know, before I punched myself into unconsciousness MILLIE: Is Christmas over?ME: Yes MILLIE: Then how come it’s still winter?ME: Because it’s a cruel world.MILLIE: What’s “cruel”? ME: You know, it’s like we’re in Narnia, under the White Witch.MILLIE: Is that the movie with Bilbo?ME: [Rubbing temples] Just sing something from Moana, okay?MILLIE: Can I watch the iPad instead?ME: [Resigned nod of head]The beacon of winter, the parties, the wine, the cookies, is in the past Now it’s just cold Cold without joy Books are an escape But escape to where? One school of thought says to read something warm Pretend you are in a better place, without freezing rainstorms, lungaching wind chills, and dress shoes eaten away by road salt I didn't go in that direction, though I steered into the skid I went to my bookshelf to find the most miserable title about winter I could find Hampton Sides’ In the Kingdom of Ice turned out to be the perfect choice In the Kingdom of Ice tells the true story of the 1879 Polar expedition of the U.S.S Jeanette The expedition was run by the U.S Navy, but was funded by the wealthy, unconventional James Gordon Bennett, Jr., who owned The New York Herald It was Bennett who’d sent Stanley to find Livingstone, and he understood the advantages of both making and reporting the news The expedition set sail from San Francisco under the command of Lieutenant Commander George De Long, who’d already proven his mettle and courage among the ice floes of the Arctic The purpose of the Jeanette expedition was to reach the North Pole via the Bering Strait The ship did not make much headway before getting stuck fast in the ice pack, northeast of Wrangel Island For nearly two years, the Jeanette drifted in a northwesterly direction The ship had been well designed and well provisioned, and the men handled the situation with remarkable aplomb The greatest trials they faced during this time was irritation with one another, especially a civilian expedition member who loved punning Then, on June 12, 1881, the unrelenting pressure of the ice crushed the Jeanette and sent her to the bottom All 33 crewmembers survived the initial sinking They also managed to salvage a decent supply of provisions and three small boats Now the real adventure began A journey of hundreds of miles across a frozen sea, through a mazelike labyrinth of ice They overcame hunger and storms, blindness and despair One guy even had progressive syphilitic conditions, which is tough enough on dry land (or so I’m told) Most never made it home again Sides tells this story brilliantly To my mind, he is one of the best authorhistorians working today It begins with his characterizations, which are deep and wellrounded The people who walk across this stage are brought memorably back to life Start with Bennett, the founder of the feast The word eccentric doesn’t do him justice This is a man who once covered the front page of his newspaper with a fake story about animals getting loose from the zoo and running amuck Wait, you say, fake news is nothing That happens every day now But this is also a man who lost his fiancé when he went to her house, drank some punch, and then urinated into the grand piano Sides also develops August Petermann, the troubled German cartographer who believed that warm ocean currents created an Open Polar Sea, and Emily De Long, wife of the commander, who wrote countless poignant letters with no sure destination for them to be mailed In Sides' hands, the crew of the Jeanette become like old pals There is Melville, the chief engineer, a sort of 19th century MacGyver; Nindemann, a hearty quartermaster of “ferocious competency”; and Jerome Collins, a meteorologist, Herald correspondent, and punmaster extraordinaire The calm center of this storm is Commander De Long In photographs he does not appear imposing; bookish, rather, and sometimes bespectacled But he was strong and brave and tough as hell Sides delivers this epic saga with a wealth of detail He does an excellent job setting the context of Polar exploration, describing in detail Petermann’s theory that a ring of ice floes surrounded a lifesustaining landmass at the top of the world The evocation of shipboard life once the Jeanette has wedged into the ice is fascinating Days, months, years went by, and the men remained in place, hunting, taking scientific measurements, exercising, celebrating holidays, and gradually moving at the pace of the sea The crew’s trek once the Jeanette sinks is told in excruciating detail You are right there with them as their chances to survive ebb and flow It helps that Sides has a good historical record to work with When the Franklin Expedition went missing, there were no survivors to tell the story, and precious little evidence Here, men survived to explain what happened Books were written by the survivors More than that, De Long went to extraordinary lengths to save the expedition’s logs and journals – even to the extent of hampering their escape This means there is a wealth of eyewitness testimony to give depth to this story We are often privy to the thoughts and feelings of the crew as their plight unfolds Of course, having a bunch of material to work with is one thing; actually using it to your advantage is another Sides isthan up to this challenge He does an excellent job structuring the narrative to create tension and suspense My general rule, as I’ve stated elsewhere, is that works of history do not require “spoiler” tags, for the simple reason that we’re dealing with actual human beings When we speak of men who actually walked the earth, the answer of who lives, who dies, is not typically an article of amusement Here, though, Sides writes with an assumption (in my case accurate) that you are unfamiliar with this tale He teases out the drama without being exploitative The result is compelling, even powerful Sides is a natural and effortless storyteller There is something almost perverse in De Long’s mission They sailed up north knowing they’d get stuck in the ice, but did so anyway, in pursuit of a chimera, a warm water ocean surrounded by ice The Jeanette expedition disproved that idea and mapped some islands, but nothing they did can be said to have been worth a life Yet they followed an ancient human impulse; and while many (so, so many) human impulses are small and petty, this one is large and spirited and bighearted Sometimes it takes a fool’s errand to discover how transcendent of pain and obstacles a person can be In the Kingdom of Ice doesn’t need me to imbue it with any platitudes More than anything else, it is damn entertaining history It certainly puts winter in perspective Yes, it is a pain to scrape my car’s windshield in the morning, but at least it was not crushed by enormous blocks of ice And though I do not enjoy shoveling my driveway before dawn, in order to get to work, at least I don’t have to boil my shoes and eat them for sustenance. I have read 5 or 6 of these types of polar adventure books and this one is one of the best I've found I am not usually keen on nonfiction and I only read a handful a year, but this is exceptional The last one I read was on the Greely expedition and was entitled Ghosts of Cape Sabine Greely was a terrible captain and not the shining example seen here in George Washington De Long De Long was smart, capable, and a natural leader whose men followed him willingly The terrible things that occurred on the doomed voyage were not because of lack of planning, poor materials, or lack of brave and stalwart men, it was instead, the unknown information on the arctic region that stymied them Maps were poor or nonexistent because no one had been there past certain points Foolhardy ideas about what they would find there were in circulation, put forth by cartographers.about a warm vortex of ocean water, like the Gulf Stream, that would open up the polar sea after a certain point to smooth sailing It was all tragically too much for the poor men to overcome. Some fiction books read like not that exciting nonfiction, and some nonfiction books turn out to be really unputdownable For me, this was the case with In the Kingdom of Ice The story of the Jeannette and her crew who committed themselves to sail to the North Pole, terra incognita in the second half of the 19th century, is compelling Mr Sides provides us with all details regarding the preparations for the voyage of which I had known nothing Thorough research is one thing, another thing is how the authour manages to put all the facts into a story and here Mr Sides yet again is a master of story telling In the Kingdom of Ice is a book which I highly recommend to anybody interested in brave and tough men who wanted to know I know I just added this book yesterday, but I opened it at 1 pm when it arrived, let everything else go, skipped dinner, and read the entire night through because I could not put it down I guess you might say that I LOVED this book: a) It's about polar exploration, probably my favorite nonfiction reading topic in the universe, b) it's by Hampton Sides, who has not let me down yet with any of his books, and c) it's just so engrossing that I couldn't stop reading it I'm pretty tired and cranky right now, but what the hell it was so worth it Once again Hampton Sides has proven that he is not only a master of his topic but also a master of storytelling I've written up my thoughts about this book at the nonfiction page of my online reading journal; feel free to click on over For now, I'll just reiterate how fanbloodytastic I found this book.I seriously can't do this book the justice it deserves, but In the Kingdom of Ice is an absolutely phenomenal story told by a master storyteller, and it deserves as wide of a reading audience as possible Even readers who might not normally be excited about the history of polar exploration would love this book the story is harrowing enough, but Mr Sides highlights the humanity and the sheer bravery of these heroic men facing the unendurable in one of the most unforgiving environments in the world The book literally reads like a novel, complete with cliffhangers, moments for rejoicing, and above all, pageturning scenes making it impossible to set the book down It's an ultimate true rollicking adventure story, one that should be on everyone's reading list To answer other reader criticism, yes, there's a lot of detail involved, but none of it is wasted space or used as padding as so often seems to be the case I cannot recommend this book highly enough on the favorites list of 2014 someone should get in touch with Ken Burns this would make a fascinating PBS special. hours,minutes On July Captain George Washington De Long and his team of thirtytwo men set sail from San Francisco on the USS Jeanette Heading deep into uncharted Arctic waters, they carried the aspirations of a young country burning to be the first nation to reach the North Pole Two years into the voyage, the Jeannette's hull was breached by an impassable stretch of pack ice, forcing the crew to abandon ship amid torrents of rushing of water Hours later, the ship had sunk below the surface, marooning the men a thousand miles north of Siberia, where they faced a terrifying march with minimal supplies across the endless ice packEnduring everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and labyrinths of ice, the crew battled madness and starvation as they struggled desperately to survive With thrilling twists and turns, In The Kingdom of Ice is a tale of heroism and determination in the most brutal place on Earth In the fall of 2006, I drove from Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico and walked into the Kit Carson Home and Museum When I entered I spotted an individual sitting behind one table while another nearby table held a stack of books It was obvious that he was a writer promoting a book.Taos, which hosts a number of festivals and celebrations every year, can be a busy little village at times, but not that day There wasn’t much going on In fact, there were only two other visitors besides me in the museum and they were indicating no interest in the book More out of a sense of compassion than anything else, I walked over to the table containing the books, and when I looked at the cover I immediately recognized the author’s name It was Hampton Sides.I recognized his name because I had just recently read one of his other books Ghost Soldiers, published in 2001, the story of a successful World War II mission to liberate over five hundred POW's being held in the Philippines, including the last survivors of the Bataan Death March, was a welltold tale of heroism.I thought Ghost Soldiers was an excellent book about a little known, but extraordinary event and this new book, Blood and Thunder, really aroused my curiosity, too It is the story of a controversial chapter in the life of Kit Carson Most people know that he was a mountain man, trapper, explorer and scout, but few know that he was a union officer during the Civil War, and that in that position he played a major role in the brutal subjugation and repression of the Navajos So, whatappropriate place to promote a book about Kit Carson than in the Kit Carson Home and Museum? Appropriate, yes; successful, no.Naturally, I purchased a copy, not out of compassion, but because I was hooked by the subject matter Because nobody else was taking up any of his time, I not only had a signed first edition, but I was able to hold a rather lengthy conversation with him, in which I was able to tell him how much I had admired his earlier book I found out that he was a native of Memphis, Tennessee and that he lived in Santa Fe, which is not all that far from Taos It turned out to be a good day for me, but I'm afraid not a profitable one for him.Well, you probably know that the critics praised Blood and Thunder to high heaven and that the book became a best seller, and that a film adaptation is even in the works.In 2010, Hellhound on His Trail was another critical and popular success The subtitle tells the tale: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr and the International Hunt for His Assassin And it too may become a film.It goes without saying that a lot of readers besides me have discovered Hampton Sides If any further evidence is needed all one has to do is check out the number of ratings, reviews, and average ratings of these books here on Goodreads And the critical acclaim for all three has been, as far as I can tell, almost universal.What could he possibly write that would top his other books? Well, how about writing about an arctic expedition that nobody remembers? Not a good idea? But how many people knew about that WWII rescue mission or Kit Carson's Civil War experiences? The result is In the Kingdom of Ice and I think it is as good, and in some respects even better, than his other work The subtitle tells us much about this book, too: The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeannette It is the story of George Washington DeLong’s attempt in 1879 to sail his ship and its crew to the North Pole The expedition was based on the faulty notion that if a ship could break through the ice barrier that it would sail into an open polar sea Unfortunately, after only two months the ship, the threemasted and steampowered Jeannette, became entrapped in ice at the 72nd parallel and remained confined for two years, drifting with the ice pack What follows is a harrowing tale of gritty and desperate determination by the crew of thirtythree to survive and return home despite the fact that they were a thousand miles from the nearest land.Because I don’t want to ruin the story for others, I choose not to reveal what happened thereafter Sides’ great strength is that he is not only a thorough researcher and talented writer, but that he also knows how to tell a story He graduated college with a degree in American history, but his background is in magazine journalism Thus, he is an historian who became a journalist, rather than the other way around, which isoften the case He is editor at large for Outdoor magazine and has written for various other publications including National Geographic and The New Yorker.His work reminds me of that of three other writers whose admirable storytelling skills are such that they are able to write nonfiction that reads like a novel Those three are Jon Krakauer, Sebastian Junger, and Nathaniel Philbrick I once thought that Sides might someday rank with those writers, but I now think that with his latest book he has surpassed them. What a journey!I listened to this audiobook and was totally enthralled The struggle for survival the crew of the USS Jeannette went through was a fightforyourlife adventure Lt George DeLong and his engineer, Melville, were heroic characters that everyone would love Their expedition to the North Pole was amazing and harrowing What the crew went through to get to the Siberian Coast was an edgeoftheseat listening experience Don't miss this nonfiction tale of survival, starvation, and the will to live. A terrific read about a doomed American attempt to sail to the North Pole via the Bering Strait in 1879 I didn’t set out thinking I wanted to read a harrowing account of an Arctic exploration But based on fivestar reads of two previous books by Sides, I took to heart that when a great cook asks you for dinner, you don’t need to bother asking what is being served I knew I could count on him to make stories from history come alive with all the drama and character development you expect from great fiction The premise of the sea voyage of the U.S.S Jeanette was based on a widespread belief that the polar region was an area of open sea due to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream and a comparable northerly flow in the Pacific (the KuroSiwo Current) People hungry to fill in the huge geographical blank in human knowledge came to trust the world famous Austrian cartographer August Petermann on this concept While others like Franklin concentrated on finding a sailing route for the Northwest Passage , a number of expeditions tried and failed to get past the ice pack above Greenland A young Navy Lieutenant, George De Long, proved his mettle on a rescue search for one such attempt and acquired a fervor for the remote and dangerous beauty of the high latitudes It took little for money man James Gordon Bennett, owner of the New York Herald, to wind him up to plan and lead a new attempt via the Pacific under his funding.George De Long, showing wisdom and characterwould you follow him to the ends of the earth? De Long and Bennett make an odd partnership De Long is totally pragmatic, organized, warm hearted, and a natural leader Bennett is extravagant, mercurial, selfish, tyrannical, and so outrageously eccentric that he out trumps Donald Trump He was notoriously for regularly racing his buggy around Central Park at night in the nude He ruined a chance at marrying the aristocratic woman of is dreams by openly peeing at a fancy party at her folks mansion Yet, was successful in running the largest newspaper in the world, upping circulation by such tricks as a false story of rampaging animals from the city zoo and by sending Stanley on a quest to find Livingstone in Africa Above all, he excelled in competition, such as yachtracing and polo, and so was game for beating other nations to the pole (and selling lots of papers as a side benefit).The story of De Long finding his ship, assembling his crew, picking all the equipment he might need, and refitting the ship to withstand iceberg collisions makes for surprisingly fascinating reading Effective political maneuvering got the initiative placed under U.S Navy auspices His courtship and marriage to Emma reveals much about his character and source for some of his endurance on the journey to come Her tolerance of his quest was enhanced by watching him in action on the long sail from New York to San Francisco, where the long refitting was accomplished The 30man crew of sailors, scientists, engineers, a physician, a Chinese cook, and dozens of sled dogs was the best that one could imagine I won’t spoil the fun by revealing much on the outcomes I can say that some far northern islands were discovered, that the ship was trapped in the ice for a long time, and that at one point the crew has to make about a thousand mile trip in cutters to reach Siberia With one exception of a neurotic naturalist and a navigator whose syphilis affected his brain, the voyage overall was marked by generous humanity and harmony, and their teamwork, courage, and feats of endurance were magnificent to experience Only upon reaching the boggy and labyrinthine delta of the Lena River as winter approached did their supplies, skills, and luck fail them Some made it and many did not Your heart will glow over the accomplishments of the former, and you will likely weep as I did for the latter Take heart: no cannibalism! Landing on what they named “Bennett Island” after a cutter excursion from the icepack where they were marooned800 milesto go to reach the Siberian mainlandI will look forward to reading anything Sides writes in the future, the same as I do for Nathaniel Philbrick This book gave me the same level of pleasure as I got from Philbrick’s “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex”, and it wasenjoyable for me that hiscomparable tale of exploration, “Sea of Glory”, which covered a wideranging U.S Navy expedition including an early probe of Antarctica around 1840. What a fascinating book! In the Kingdom of Ice has some of my favorite things: a grand expedition, outdoor adventure and an amazing survival story There's even an eccentric media mogul to provide extra color.In 1879, George De Long and his crew sailed away from San Francisco in search of the North Pole They never reached it — the ship got trapped in ice and sank, stranding the men on an ice cap with only meager supplies Incredibly, most of the crew survived for severalmonths and reached the Siberian coast, where the survivors were eventually helped by local tribes.The expedition had been backed by James Gordon Bennett Jr., the wealthy owner of The New York Herald Bennett's goal, besides helping to find the Pole, was to get exclusive details of the journey for his newspaper (Bennett once said that man doesn't matter — the only thing that mattered was the newspaper.)The book alternates between De Long's journey and what was happening back home When the crew hadn't been heard from in a while, a rescue mission was attempted, but the ship wasn't found It seemed ages before De Long's poor wife learned what happened to her husband.One of my favorite details of the book was about the myths of the North Pole At the time, there was the mistaken belief that there would be an open polar sea at the pole, and that ships would have no trouble sailing straight there It was fun seeing the different ideas debunked as the crew continued on their journey.Hampton Sides is an excellent and engaging writer Here he pulls together compelling details from journals, letters, newspaper accounts and other works, and the result is a thrilling work of history Highly recommend for anyone who wants to delve into a good adventure story.Favorite Quotes[De Long] becameandintrigued by the Arctic, by its lonely grandeur, by its mirages and strange tricks of light, its mock moons and bloodred halos, its thick, misty atmospheres, which altered and magnified sounds, leaving the impression that one was living under a dome He felt as though he were breathing rarefied air He became intrigued by the phenomenon of the 'ice blink,' the spectral glow in the low sky that indicated the presence of a large frozen pack ahead The scenery grewimpressive: ice gouged fjords, towering bergs calved fresh from glaciers, the crisp sound of cold surf lapping against the pack, ringed seals peeking through gaps in the ice, bowhead whales spouting in the deep gray channel This was the purest wilderness De Long had ever seen, and he began to fall in love with it.James Gordon Bennett's most original contribution to modern journalism could be found in his notion that a newspaper should not merely report stories; it should create them Editors should not only cover the news, he felt; they should orchestrate largescale public dramas that stir emotions and get people talking.The North Pole The top of the world The acme, the apogee, the apex It was a magnetic region but also a magnetic idea It loomed as a public fixation and a planetary enigma — as alluring and unknown as the surface of Venus or Mars The North Pole was both a physical place and a geographer's abstraction, an pinpointable location where curved lines met on the map It was a spot on the globe where, if you could stand there, any direction you headed in would be, by definition, south It was a place of perpetual darkness for one half of the year and perpetual sunlight for the other There, in a sense, chronology stood still, for at the pole all the time zones of the world converged. 4.5 ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️If your back was up against an iceberg these are the kind of men you would want by your side Extraordinary fortitude and courage in the grand and terrible kingdom of ice Hampton Sides writes nonfiction that reads like an epic adventure story The audio was excellent.