A graphic tale of horrific deprivation that is sure to be the benchmark account.



A blow-by-blow account of the Greely Expedition to the northernmost polar regions from 1881 to 1884.

In the lore of Arctic exploration, the Greely Expedition, aka the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, holds a special place. Named after its commanding officer, Lt. Adolphus Greely, the expedition, comprised of 24 scientists and explorers, achieved the distinction of making a documented foray to the farthest north, but it also carried accusations of cannibalism during its last days afield before rescue. In this highly detailed account, Levy (River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon, 2011, etc.) makes full use of all the writings—journals, books, and articles—that the expedition spawned. The adventurers wanted to establish a chain of research stations to collect data on the region, and they also set out to search for survivors of the USS Jeannette expedition, which had disappeared two years prior. Furthermore, they sought to “attain Farthest North, an explorer’s holy grail of the highest northern latitude, which had been held by the British” for three centuries. Levy does a remarkable job of keeping things lively despite the crush of detail (“it carried a load of five thousand pounds of coal (in thirty-nine bags), gear, and men, drawing five feet of water”). When Greely finally decides to make a dash for it, having waited in vain for two years for supply ships to rendezvous with his team, the author comes into his own, grippingly chronicling their harrowing journey. Through the bitter cold and long nights, the men slogged in retreat south, suffering frostbite so bad that one explorer pleaded, “Oh, will you kill me? Please.” They ate the soles of their boots and, later, “nothing but a few swigs of water since eating the last of Greely’s sleeping bag cover.” Levy presents the evidence for cannibalism in a balanced manner, and he does a solid job situating the expedition’s scientific achievements in the history of polar exploration.

A graphic tale of horrific deprivation that is sure to be the benchmark account.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-18219-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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