In the Land of White Death

In the Land of White Death

An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic

Book - 2000
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In 1912, six months after Robert Falcon Scott and four of his men came to grief in Antarctica, a thirty-two-year-old Russian navigator named Valerian Albanov embarked on an expedition that would prove even more disastrous. In search of new Arctic hunting grounds, Albanov's ship, the Saint Anna, was frozen fast in the pack ice of the treacherous Kara Sea-a misfortune grievously compounded by an incompetent commander, the absence of crucial nautical charts, insufficient fuel, and inadequate provisions that left the crew weak and debilitated by scurvy.

For nearly a year and a half, the twenty-five men and one woman aboard the Saint Anna endured terrible hardships and danger as the icebound ship drifted helplessly north. Convinced that the Saint Anna would never free herself from the ice, Albanov and thirteen crewmen left the ship in January 1914, hauling makeshift sledges and kayaks behind them across the frozen sea, hoping to reach the distant coast of Franz Josef Land. With only a shockingly inaccurate map to guide him, Albanov led his men on a 235-mile journey of continuous peril, enduring blizzards, disintegrating ice floes, attacks by polar bears and walrus, starvation, sickness, snowblindness, and mutiny. That any of the team survived is a wonder. That Albanov kept a diary of his ninety-day ordeal-a story that Jon Krakauer calls an "astounding, utterly compelling book," and David Roberts calls "as lean and taut as a good thriller"-is nearly miraculous.

First published in Russia in 1917, Albanov's narrative is here translated into English for the first time. Haunting, suspenseful, and told with gripping detail, In the Land of White Death can now rightfully take its place among the classic writings of Nansen, Scott, Cherry-Garrard, and Shackleton.
Publisher: New York : Modern Library, c2000.
ISBN: 9780679783619
067978361X
9780679641001
0679641009
Characteristics: xx, 202 p. ;,19 cm.

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h
htliang
Aug 06, 2015

This is an excellent account of the fate of the Russian ship, the Saint Anna, and the twenty-five men and one woman who were on board. The Saint Anna left Russia in 1912 to look for new Arctic hunting grounds and then became trapped in ice in the Kara Sea. It drifted north for almost 1 1/2 years before the 32 year-old navigator, Valerian Albanov, left with 13 members of the crew to try to find help. This book is Albanov's account of what happened after leaving the ship.

Make sure you do not read the introduction unless you don't mind knowing the outcome. I was disappointed when I was told who survived and who didn't, even before starting the book! Even so, it was a well-written narrative and harrowing to say the least. I can't believe what these men had to endure. It made me appreciate every little blessing I have.

The preface states that the book is told in Albanov's own words, as entries in a daily journal. I believe that some of the book, however, is told in retrospect. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful read for those who enjoy reading about other people's ordeals and how these people overcame obstacles.

c
Canadiandiver
Feb 11, 2011

Good reading. A good example of how man can survive anything if one does not lose the will to live.

j
jlathian
Jun 16, 2010

Read it some years ago. Can still reference how well it was written, with such nimble and fragile experience had been tested in such a foray of written literature.

It's a must read. I will read it again, given it is still available at HPL. Maybe I'll buy it. A favourite.

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