The synopsis from the publisher: In 1897, whaling in the Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast was as dangerous as it was lucrative. And that particular year winter blasted in 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 the many months until warmer temperatures arrived.
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 starved. With the help of journal entries and photographs taken by one of the rescuers, Martin W. Sandler leads us on every step of their riveting journey, facing raging blizzards, killing cold, injured sled dogs, and setbacks to test the strongest of wills – with their own survival at stake.
Beyond an incredible story of survival, determination, and succeeding against the odds, the story is told in a well-structured format. There were so many components to the rescue operation, that switching between them is seamless. I envision many applications for this book. Students required to read a nonfiction or informational books will enjoy this. The story would meld nicely with our district’s Heroes unit so that multiple copies could be utilized in the classroom. This is an example of nonfiction at its best and should make the lists for the best nonfiction of 2012.
Side note – I read this on my Kindle. This is an example of the print book perhaps being the better format or a very large screen for the digital version. One of the rescuers had a camera and the photographs are brilliant and deserve to be seen in a much larger format than the Kindle can deliver.
NetGalley Review Publication date: 9.11.12