Cover image for Labyrinth of ice : the triumphant and tragic Greely polar expedition
Title:
Labyrinth of ice : the triumphant and tragic Greely polar expedition
ISBN:
9781250182197
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
xviii, 376 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm.
General Note:
Maps on endpapers
Summary:
Based on the author's exhaustive research, the incredible true story of the Greely Expedition, one of the most harrowing adventures in the annals of polar exploration. In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely and his crew of 24 scientists and explorers were bound for the last region unmarked on global maps. Their goal: Farthest North. What would follow was one of the most extraordinary and terrible voyages ever made. Greely and his men confronted every possible challenge-vicious wolves, sub-zero temperatures, and months of total darkness-as they set about exploring one of the most remote, unrelenting environments on the planet. In May 1882, they broke the 300-year-old record, and returned to camp to eagerly await the resupply ship scheduled to return at the end of the year. Only nothing came. 250 miles south, a wall of ice prevented any rescue from reaching them. Provisions thinned and a second winter descended. Back home, Greely's wife worked tirelessly against government resistance to rally a rescue mission. Months passed, and Greely made a drastic choice: he and his men loaded the remaining provisions and tools onto their five small boats, and pushed off into the treacherous waters. After just two weeks, dangerous floes surrounded them. Now new dangers awaited: insanity, threats of mutiny, and cannibalism. As food dwindled and the men weakened, Greely's expedition clung desperately to life. Labyrinth of Ice tells the true story of the heroic lives and deaths of these voyagers hell-bent on fame and fortune-at any cost-and how their journey changed the world. --
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Summary

Summary

" A thrilling and harrowing story. If it's a cliche to say I couldn't put this book down, well, too bad: I couldn't put this book down. " --Jess Walter, bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins

"Polar exploration is utter madness. It is the insistence of life where life shouldn't exist. And so, Labyrinth of Ice shows you exactly what happens when the unstoppable meets the unmovable. Buddy Levy outdoes himself here. The details and story are magnificent." -- Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington

Based on the author's exhaustive research, the incredible true story of the Greely Expedition, one of the most harrowing adventures in the annals of polar exploration.

In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely and his crew of 24 scientists and explorers were bound for the last region unmarked on global maps. Their goal: Farthest North. What would follow was one of the most extraordinary and terrible voyages ever made.

Greely and his men confronted every possible challenge--vicious wolves, sub-zero temperatures, and months of total darkness--as they set about exploring one of the most remote, unrelenting environments on the planet. In May 1882, they broke the 300-year-old record, and returned to camp to eagerly await the resupply ship scheduled to return at the end of the year. Only nothing came.

250 miles south, a wall of ice prevented any rescue from reaching them. Provisions thinned and a second winter descended. Back home, Greely's wife worked tirelessly against government resistance to rally a rescue mission.

Months passed, and Greely made a drastic choice: he and his men loaded the remaining provisions and tools onto their five small boats, and pushed off into the treacherous waters. After just two weeks, dangerous floes surrounded them. Now new dangers awaited: insanity, threats of mutiny, and cannibalism. As food dwindled and the men weakened, Greely's expedition clung desperately to life.

Labyrinth of Ice tells the true story of the heroic lives and deaths of these voyagers hell-bent on fame and fortune--at any cost--and how their journey changed the world.


Author Notes

BUDDY LEVY is the author of No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon, GERONIMO: Leadership Strategies of An American Warrior, and River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon . His books have been published in seven languages. He lives in Idaho.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Levy (River of Darkness) recounts the story of the 1881--1884 Lady Franklin Bay Expedition in this evocative, deeply researched account. Led by Lt. Adolphus W. Greeley, the U.S. Army Signal Corps expedition sought to establish a research station in the Canadian Arctic; collect "magnetic, astronomical, and meteorological data"; search for the lost crew of the USS Jeannette; and reach "farthest north," the highest northern latitude achieved by explorers. Greeley and his men built Fort Conger on the northeast coast of Ellesmere Island and survived wolf attacks, temperatures approaching minus-100°F, and "months of total darkness." Relief ships, hindered by bad weather and ice floes, failed to reach the fort, however, and in August 1883 the group set out on a 200-mile journey south from Fort Conger to Cape Sabine, where Greeley was under orders to take his men if two consecutive resupply efforts failed. But only a small cache of emergency rations had been left by the relief ships, and 18 members of the 25-man crew died before rescuers arrived in June 1884. Levy meticulously documents the expedition's scientific achievements and praises Greeley's leadership skills. He also gives credit to Greeley's wife, Henrietta, for lobbying President Chester A. Arthur and other U.S. government officials to keep up rescue efforts. The result is an intense historical adventure with modern-day relevance for the climate change debate. Agent: Scott Waxman, Waxman Literary. (Dec.)


Kirkus Review

A blow-by-blow account of the Greely Expedition to the northernmost polar regions from 1881 to 1884.In the lore of Arctic exploration, the Greely Expedition, aka the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, holds a special place. Named after its commanding officer, Lt. Adolphus Greely, the expedition, comprised of 24 scientists and explorers, achieved the distinction of making a documented foray to the farthest north, but it also carried accusations of cannibalism during its last days afield before rescue. In this highly detailed account, Levy (River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon, 2011, etc.) makes full use of all the writingsjournals, books, and articlesthat the expedition spawned. The adventurers wanted to establish a chain of research stations to collect data on the region, and they also set out to search for survivors of the USS Jeannette expedition, which had disappeared two years prior. Furthermore, they sought to "attain Farthest North, an explorer's holy grail of the highest northern latitude, which had been held by the British" for three centuries. Levy does a remarkable job of keeping things lively despite the crush of detail ("it carried a load of five thousand pounds of coal (in thirty-nine bags), gear, and men, drawing five feet of water"). When Greely finally decides to make a dash for it, having waited in vain for two years for supply ships to rendezvous with his team, the author comes into his own, grippingly chronicling their harrowing journey. Through the bitter cold and long nights, the men slogged in retreat south, suffering frostbite so bad that one explorer pleaded, "Oh, will you kill me? Please." They ate the soles of their boots and, later, "nothing but a few swigs of water since eating the last of Greely's sleeping bag cover." Levy presents the evidence for cannibalism in a balanced manner, and he does a solid job situating the expedition's scientific achievements in the history of polar exploration.A graphic tale of horrific deprivation that is sure to be the benchmark account. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Levy takes readers back to the height of polar exploration and an expedition that became a legendary disaster. In 1881, the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, led by U.S. Army lieutenant Adolphus Greely, was sent to the coast of northwest Greenland to collect data as part of the First International Polar Year. Due to bad weather, relief ships were unable to arrive as scheduled, and by 1884 the expedition's ship was destroyed, more than half the men were dead, and Greely and the other survivors were hanging on by a thread. Their miraculous rescue garnered international attention. Levy immersed himself in Greely's diary and those of other surviving members of the crew along with media coverage, published reports, and, it seems, every single scrap of paper about the tragedy he could find. The result is an armchair explorer's dream all the drama, all the fear, all the steadfastness that fans of the genre could want. Unexpectedly, Levy manages also to carve out important space in the narrative for Greely's wife, Henrietta, who was key to the rescue. An invaluable addition to polar history.--Colleen Mondor Copyright 2019 Booklist


Library Journal Review

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.--Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Lib., IN