Synopses & Reviews
New York Times
bestselling author Hampton Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age.
In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores.
James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever."
The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Less than an hour later, the Jeannette sank to the bottom,and the men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice — a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.
With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.
"In a masterful retelling, Sides (Hellhound on His Trail) chronicles American naval officer George Washington De Long's harrowing 1879 expedition to the North Pole, an account as frightening as it is fascinating. Each page envelops readers in the bravery of De Long and the crew of the Jeannette, their indefatigable quest for the 'Polar Grail,' and their dogged will to survive. News mogul James Gordon Bennett Jr., a colorful personality who famously sent Sir Henry Stanley to Dr. David Livingstone, was De Long's patron, mostly because he desired another front-page stunner for his paper. De Long's journal entries are mixed in with Sides's description of a voyage fraught with peril their steamboat was wedged in ice for two winters and,upon released, was crushed. Seeking rescue, the crew hauled supplies hundreds of miles across Arctic ice fields. Weather was harsh, erratic, and frigid with food and shelter scarce; many succumbed to frostbite and madness. Flawed theories of Siberian geography and settlements caused further setbacks. (Disastrously, De Long had already discovered that prevailing theories about warm currents under Polar icecaps were incorrect.) Impeccable writing, a vivid re-creation of the expedition and the Victorian era, and a taut conclusion make this an exciting gem. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"The true story of the USS Jeannette, which set out for the North Pole in 1879. The voyage descended into disaster, but the crew fought on with a heroic determination that recalls Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken." Lev Grossman for Time Magazine
“Another crackling tale of adventure from journalist/explorer Sides...this one focusing on a frigid disaster nearly 150 years ago….A grand and grim narrative of thrilling exploration for fans of Into Thin Air, Mountains of the Moon and the like.” Kirkus (Starred Review)
"With its western frontiers explored and the idea of Manifest Destiny still beckoning, the U.S. in the Gilded Age looked to the North Pole for adventure and conquest....In July 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail with a crew of 32 men for uncharted waters. It was an extraordinary expedition...Sides (Hellhound on His Trail) tapped amazing archival material, including diaries, letters, and the ship logs, to render a completely thrilling saga of survival in unbelievably harsh conditions." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Complusively readable, In the Kingdom of Ice brilliantly recreates a world, invites us to enter it and to experience the isolation, fear and hope of the people in it, and leads us back to our world with a clearer understanding of what motivates those who undertake daunting but heroic challenges." Bookpage
"Drawing on lost letters and diaries, first-hand experience of the polar landscape, and his own masterful storytelling skills, Hampton Sides conjures the doomed USS Jeannette and her courageous crew with haunting power. As the drama escalates — on ice, sea, and land — the characters of these men and their extraordinary, gallant leader loom larger and larger. The reader is drawn into the ice from the first page and will not want to leave until the fate of every man is known." Caroline Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The Endurance and The Bounty
“Hampton Sides has written a dazzling page-turner. Full of unforgettable characters and vividly described scenes, In the Kingdom of Ice breathes fresh, exuberant, and very personal life into the polar adventure story that once riveted the world.” Nathaniel Philbrick, New York Times bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea, Bunker Hill and Sea of Glory
“This is an astonishingly good story, told by one of the best storytellers of our age. Alone, the tale of the USS Jeannette is darkly gripping. In the hands of Hampton Sides, it is impossible to put down, packed with irresistible characters and incredible moments of horror and heroism. As soon as I finished it, I flipped to the first page and began reading it again.”Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of The Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt
“Hampton Sides masterfully recounts one of the greatest and most harrowing adventures of all time. In the Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale not only of a journey into the Arctic but also into the very nature of man.” David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z
About the Author
Hampton Sides is an award-winning editor of Outside and the author of the bestselling histories Hellhound on his Trail, Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers.