A Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book
In the years following the Civil War, "Arctic fever" gripped the American public, fueled by myths of a fertile, tropical sea at the top of the world. Several explorers attempted to find a route to the North Pole, but none succeeded. Bound by Ice follows the journey of George Washington De Long and the crew of the USS Jeannette, who departed San Francisco in the summer of 1879 hoping to find a route to the North Pole. However, in mid-September the ship became locked in ice north of Siberia and drifted for nearly two years before it was crushed by ice and sank. De Long and his men escaped the ship and began a treacherous journey in extreme polar conditions in an attempt to reach civilization. Many—including De Long—did not survive. A riveting true-life adventure, Bound by Ice includes excerpts from De Long’s extensive journals, which were recovered with his body; newspapers from the time; and photos and sketches by the men on the expedition. The title also includes an epilogue, author’s note, bibliography, source notes, and index.
Drawing heavily on the journals of the crew of the U.S.S. Jeannette, the Wallaces (Blood Brother) recount in riveting prose the ship's ill-fated two-year voyage (1879 1881) in search of warm waters then thought to surround the North Pole. Lt. Cmdr. George W. De Long sailed under the authority of the U.S. Navy, hoping to advance human knowledge and perhaps reach the pole. The financial backing of James Gordon Bennett Jr., owner of the sensationalistic New York Herald, ensured that the expedition was well provisioned, and it boasted an excellent crew, but these advantages were offset by ignorance of the polar climate, broken telegraph equipment, and misleading maps. Two months after sailing from San Francisco, the ship was trapped in ice off the Siberian coast, where it remained for almost two years until it sank. Chief engineer George Melville emerges as the surviving hero, exemplifying the courage, skill, determination, and honor of all 33 men, who maintained a "never-turn-back attitude" through intense cold, storms, illness, and the ultimate loss of the Jeannette and two-thirds of its crew. Abundant archival illustrations, bibliography, and source notes bolster this gripping, accessible account. Ages 9 up.