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Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arcticby Jennifer Niven
Synopses & Reviews
Ada Blackjack was an unlikely hero — an unskilled 23-year-old Inuit woman with no knowledge of the world outside Nome, Alaska. Divorced, impoverished, and despondent, she had one focus in her life — to care for her sickly young son. In September 1921, in search of money and a husband, she signed on as seamstress for a top-secret expedition into the unknown Arctic.
It was controversial explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson who sent four young men and Ada Blackjack into the far North to colonize desolate, uninhabited Wrangel Island. Only two of the men had set foot in the Arctic before. They took with them six months' worth of supplies on Stefansson's theory that this would be enough to sustain them for a year while they lived off the land itself. But as winter set in, they were struck by hardship and tragedy. As months went by and they began to starve, they were forced to ration their few remaining provisions. When three of the men made a desperate attempt to seek help, Ada was left to care for the fourth, who was too sick to travel. Soon after, she found herself totally alone.
Upon Ada's miraculous return after two years on the island, the international press heralded her as the female Robinson Crusoe. Journalists hunted her down, but she refused to talk to anyone about her harrowing experiences. Only on one occasion — after being accused of a horrible crime she did not commit — did she speak up for herself. All the while, she was tricked and exploited by those who should have been her champions.
Jennifer Niven, author of The Ice Master, narrates this remarkable true story, taking full advantage of a wealth of primary sources, including Ada Blackjack's never-before-seen diaries, the unpublished journals of other major characters, and interviews with Ada's second son. Filled with exciting adventure and fascinating history — as well as extraordinary photographs — Ada Blackjack is a gripping and ultimately inspiring tale of a woman who survived a terrible time in the wild only to face a different but equally trying ordeal back in civilization.
"Niven vividly re-creates the frozen land, the struggles of the group, and Ada's ups and downs after her return. This exhilarating account is essential reading for adventure-story fans." Kristine Huntley, Booklist (Starred Review)
"The grim tale of an Arctic expedition that had 'doomed' stamped on it from the start, told (at times over-told) by Niven....The hard challenge that defeats Niven: making an exciting story when morbidity and cheap behavior are the main ingredients." Kirkus Reviews
"The beauty of Niven's tale reveals itself slowly....[The ending leaves] both the reader and Blackjack near-nostalgic for the creaking ice floes and the slow rhythms of life in the northern frozen wastelands." Publishers Weekly
"Niven builds a solid and suspenseful tale around the framework of records and diaries to reveal an obscure woman's accidental heroism." Library Journal
From the author of The Ice Master comes the remarkable true story of a young Inuit woman who survived six months alone on a desolate uninhabited Arctic island. In September, 1921, four young men and Ada Blackjack, a diminutive 25-year old Eskimo woman, ventured deep into the Artic in a secret attempt to colonize desolate Wrangel Island for Great Britain. Two years later, Ada Blackjack emerged as the sole survivor and Jennifer Niven has created an absorbing, compelling history of this remarkable woman.
From the author of The Ice Master comes the remarkable true story of a young Inuit woman who survived six months alone on a desolate, uninhabited Arctic island.
In September 1921, four young men and Ada Blackjack, a diminutive 25-year-old Eskimo woman, ventured deep into the Arctic in a secret attempt to colonize desolate Wrangel Island for Great Britain. Two years later, Ada Blackjack emerged as the sole survivor of this ambitious polar expedition. This young, unskilled woman — who had headed to the Arctic in search of money and a husband — conquered the seemingly unconquerable north and survived all alone after her male companions had perished. Following her triumphant return to civilization, the international press proclaimed her the female Robinson Crusoe. But whatever stories the press turned out came from the imaginations of reporters: Ada Blackjack refused to speak to anyone about her horrific two years in the Arctic. Only on one occasion — after charges were published falsely accusing her of causing the death of one her companions — did she speak up for herself.
Jennifer Niven has created an absorbing, compelling history of this remarkable woman, taking full advantage of the wealth of first-hand resources about Ada that exist, including her never-before-seen diaries, the unpublished diaries from other primary characters, and interviews with Ada's surviving son. Ada Blackjack is more than a rugged tale of a woman battling the elements to survive in the frozen north — it is the story of a hero.
Now in paperback, the gripping and inspiring tale of a woman's survival alone in the Arctic.
In 1921, four men and one woman ventured deep into the Arctic. Two years later, only one returned.
When 23-year-old Inuit Ada Blackjack signed on as a seamstress for a top-secret Arctic expedition, her goal was simple: earn money and find a husband. But her terrifying experiences--both in the wild and back in civilization--comprise one of the most amazing untold adventures of the 20th century. Based on a wealth of unpublished materials, including Ada's never-before-seen diaries, bestselling author Jennifer Niven narrates this true story of an unheralded woman who became an unlikely hero.
From the author of "The Ice Master" comes the remarkable true story of a young Inuit woman who survived six months alone on a desolate uninhabited Arctic island in 1921.
About the Author
Jennifer Niven's first book, The Ice Master, was named one of the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of the Year 2000 by Entertainment Weekly. A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer, Niven and The Ice Master have appeared in Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Outside, the New York Times, and Writer's Digest, to name a few, and have been featured in full-length documentaries on Dateline NBC and the Discovery Channel. Translated into eight languages, The Ice Master has been nominated for numerous honors and was awarded Italy's prestigious Gambrinus Giuseppe Mazzotti Prize for 2002.
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