The dead of an Arctic winter. Whaling ships full of men, stranded in ice. Follow three rescuers in a race against time — and all odds — in this heartpounding true adventure. In 1897, whaling in the Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast was as dangerous as it was lucrative. And in that particular year, winter blasted early, bringing storms and ice packs that caught eight American whale ships and three hundred sailors off guard. Their ships locked in ice, with no means of escape, the whalers had limited provisions on board, and little hope of surviving until warmer temperatures arrived many months later. Here is the incredible story of three men sent by President McKinley to rescue them. The mission? A perilous trek over 1,500 miles of nearly impassable Alaskan terrain, in the bone-chilling months of winter, to secure two herds of reindeer (for food) and find a way to guide them to the whalers before they starve. With the help of photographs and journal entries by one of the rescuers, Martin W. Sandler takes us on every step of their riveting journey, facing raging blizzards, killing cold, injured sled dogs, and setbacks to test the strongest of wills.
In 1897, winter arrived early in the Arctic Ocean disastrously early for the crews of eight San Francisco based whaling ships locked in ice off the northwestern coast of Alaska. President McKinley issued an order to launch an expedition to rescue the 265 stranded whalers, which Sandler (the Through the Lens series) chronicles in scrupulous and riveting detail. When heavy ice prevented Bear, the Revenue Cutter Service ship assigned to the mission, to reach a port close to the distressed ships, its captain dropped three crew members at an accessible harbor to the south to make the nearly 2,000-mile overland trek to bring the whalers food and other provisions to keep them alive until Bear could reach them. Sandler's vivid account is laced with journal entries and illustrated by informative maps and often breathtaking b&w photographs of the rescuers, the indigenous Alaskans who aided them, the frozen Arctic wilderness, and the distressed whaling ships; many photos were taken by one of the expedition's leaders. Crisply designed with plentiful white space, this book shares a thrilling and inspirational story of determination, perseverance, and bravery. Ages 10 14.