Synopses & Reviews
When David Roberts came across a reference to four Russian sailors who had survived for six years on a barren Arctic island, he was incredulous. An expert on the literature of adventure, Roberts had never heard the story and doubted its veracity. His quest to find the true story turned into a near-obsession that culminated with his own journey to the same desolate island. In Four Against the Arctic Roberts shares the remarkable story that he discovered, perhaps the most amazing survival tale ever recorded. In 1743 a Russian ship bound for Arctic walrus-hunting grounds was blown off course and trapped in ice off the coast of Svalbard (Spitzbergen). Four sailors went ashore with only two days' supplies to look for an abandoned hut they knew about on the island. They found it and returned to tell their shipmates the good news, only to find that their ship had vanished, apparently crushed and sunk by the ice. The men survived more than six years until another ship blown off course rescued them. During that time they made a bow and arrows from driftwood (Svalbard has no trees) and killed nine polar bears in self-defense. They survived largely on reindeer meat, killing 250 of the animals during their ordeal. Fascinated as he was by this remarkable story, Roberts wondered how it had dwindled into obscurity. For two years he researched the tale in libraries and archives in the United States, France, and Russia. In Russia he traveled to the sailors' hometown, where he met the last survivors of their families, who knew the story from an oral tradition passed down for more than 250 years. Finally, with three companions he organized an expedition to the barren island of Edgeoya in southeast Svalbard, where he spent three weeks looking for remnants of the sailors' lost hut and walking the shores while pondering the men's astonishing survival. Four Against the Arctic is a riveting book about man versus nature and a delightfully engaging journey deep into an obsession with historical rediscovery. But it is more even than that: It is a meditation on the genius of survival against impossible odds that makes a story so inspirational that it still fires the imagination centuries later.
"A gem in the literature of survival under dire conditions." andlt;BRandgt; -- andlt;Iandgt;Kirkus Reviewsandlt;/Iandgt;
"By combining the compelling account of a little-known tale of survival with his own riveting modern-day quest to uncover the story, Roberts turns andlt;Iandgt;Four Against the Arcticandlt;/Iandgt; into a gripping suspense thriller." andlt;BRandgt; -- Jennifer Niven, author of andlt;Iandgt;Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arcticandlt;/Iandgt;
"A completely absorbing and fascinating detective story about one of the most astonishing feats of survival in history...This is a wonderful book of both intellectual and real-life adventure." andlt;BRandgt; -- Derek Lundy, author of andlt;Iandgt;Godforsaken Sea: The True Story of a Race Through the World's Most Dangerous Watersandlt;/Iandgt;
Follows the author's reconstruction of the survival story of four eighteenth-century Russian sailors who were shipwrecked on the barren Arctic island of Svalbard for six years, discussing the events of the ice wrecking, the four survivors' minimal provisions, their dependence on driftwood for fire, and their near-death experiences in the wake of polar bear attacks. 40,000 first printing
While reading Valerian Albanov's andlt;Iandgt;In the Land of White Death,andlt;/Iandgt; David Roberts came across the mention of an old legend of four shipwrecked Russian sailors who had managed to survive six years stranded on a barren island in the high Arctic. Incredulous, Roberts -- an expert on exploration literature who had never heard of this account -- was determined to learn the truth behind this extraordinary story. Little did he know that his search would ultimately bring him closer to the experiences of these four survivors than he had imagined. andlt;BRandgt; In 1743 four survivors of a Russian shipwreck in the Arctic Ocean were trapped on a tiny island with only twenty pounds of flour for food. With ingenuity and courage they endured six years of nearly unimaginable hardship, with only driftwood to fuel their life-saving fires, and the constant threat of attack from polar bears (they would kill ten with homemade lances). Roberts's quest to document their story would take him across two continents and culminate in his own expedition to the remote and desolate shores where these mysterious sailors had been marooned. Riveting and haunting, andlt;Iandgt;Four Against the Arcticandlt;/Iandgt; chronicles an incredible true story.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;David Roberts andlt;/Bandgt;is the author of twenty-four books on mountaineering, adventure, and the history of the American Southwest. His essays and articles have appeared in andlt;iandgt;National Geographicandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;iandgt;National Geographic Adventureandlt;/iandgt;, and andlt;iandgt;The Atlantic Monthlyandlt;/iandgt;, among other publications. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
Driftwood -- Two lances and a lamp -- No man's land -- Stroke of a pen -- Dry search -- Take me to Vadim -- Widows Inkova -- Halfmoon Island -- Wet search -- Edge of the ice.