Hampton Sides brings the historic voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette to life in his just released new novel In the Kingdom of Ice.
The mission of this late nineteenth century expedition was to reach the North Pole by ship. At the time, it was thought that there was a channel through the ice to the sea at the geographic North Pole, called the theory of the open polar sea.
Of course, this idea was completely incorrect, and the expedition suffered as a result. The ship was prepared, with a reinforced bow and a steam engine, but it just was not possible for a wooden ship to make it.
The commander of the ship, Lt. George Washington De Long, is portrayed excellently, and demonstrates his qualities as he attempts to lead the crew through their hardships.
The ship ends up trapped in ice floes, and the next spring is crushed and sinks. The crew and De Long are forced to start a long, hard trek to Siberia.
This is a surprisingly obscure voyage, but Sides makes it relevant, especially by indicating towards the end that the melting of the polar ice caps means we may have an open polar sea in the near future.
Interested in reading In the Kingdom of Ice? Comment below!