Greely's Polar Expedition Faces Heartbreak Amid Heroism In 'Labyrinth Of Ice'
Added 12-04-19 07:06:02am EST - “Author Buddy Levy's superbly written, meticulously researched chronicle tells the adventure story of a group of explorers aiming to achieve "Farthest North" and claim the win for the U.S. in 1881.” - Npr.org
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The story of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, which would eventually be known as the Greely Expedition, is important in terms of the areas it helped map, the wealth of scientific observations made, and the fact that the group reached the Farthest North — a record that had belonged to the British for three centuries.
However, the reason most people know about the expedition is because it became one of the most dangerous adventures in polar discovery and, by the time it was over, it had become an amazing narrative of strength, fear, danger, and survival that rivaled any other before it. In Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition, author Buddy Levy offers an engaging, superbly written, and meticulously researched chronicle of the Greely expedition that proves it is one of the most engaging adventure narratives ever.
In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely put together a crew of 24 scientists and explorers and set out to reach areas of the north that had not been traversed before. The expedition carried equipment to conduct scientific research on the weather and planned to catalog the flora and fauna of the place. However, Greely's main goal was to achieve Farthest North and claim that record for the United States.
While they achieved almost everything they set out to accomplish, Greely and his men also confronted every possible challenge. The atrocious weather battered them and they had to cope with months of total darkness, isolation, bears, constant sub-zero temperatures, and even wolf attacks. In May 1882, the expedition broke the 300-year-old record of Farthest North and the men returned to camp. There, they continued to research as they waited for the resupply ship. It never came. Facing a second harsh winter without the supplies they needed, morale began to wane. When no ship came after that second winter, everything changed. What happened next, from desperation to the group leaving their camp and trying to make their way south amid hunger, insanity — and even threats of violence and cannibalism — is the stuff of legend.
Labyrinth of Ice is an outstanding true story of heroism, discovery, bravery, and survival. The Greely Expedition faced "attacks by wolves; hurricane-force winds; temperatures approaching 100º below zero; and near insanity brought on by the months of total darkness." However, they persevered. They pushed forward, driven by an unquenchable thirst for fame and, later, by an unstoppable desire to live. Levy masterfully retells their story using letters, journals, other books, and telegrams. With cinematic prose, great economy of language, and vivid descriptions, Levy places readers in the middle of the action and makes them see the snow, feel the hunger and the tension, and hear the cracking of the ice, which the men called "the Devil's symphony."
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