A keen, entertaining chronicle of the various attempts to locate a sensationally doomed expedition.




Intriguing narrative of English explorer Sir John Franklin’s fatal fourth expedition to the Arctic in 1845, emphasizing the ongoing drive to uncover the mystery of the icy unknown.

Obsessed with the discovery of a Northwest Passage since the 16th century, British explorers weren’t going to give up simply because it hadn’t been found yet. In this engaging work by Vancouver-based journalist and photographer Watson (Where War Lives, 2007, etc.), a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the George Polk Award, among other honors, the expedition by Franklin, an aging explorer hoping to reclaim lost glory, becomes less visceral and significant than the myriad attempts to find his body and the two lost ships, the Erebus and the Terror. In 2014, Watson accompanied the Canadian Coast Guard Victoria Strait Expedition, which ultimately found the Erebus some 168 years after the initial sinking and broke the news in the Guardian. The disappearance of Franklin and his 129-member crew on the Royal Navy–sponsored expedition of 1845 was full of mysteries, and it constituted the worst disaster in the Admiralty’s polar exploration history. After getting stuck in the ice, the ships were eventually abandoned just north of King William Island. A few groups set out across the ice, some men already dead perhaps by botulism from tainted tin cans of food (rather than by lead poisoning, a theory discounted) and others disoriented by starvation and cold. Watson offers a sympathetic account of the Inuit who encountered some of the shipwrecked men and offered them food and supplies, as well as the native shamans who later were able to locate the wrecks (the Terror was discovered in 2016) with remarkable accuracy—if the English had only listened. Watson’s narrative also closely involves the dogged attempts by Franklin’s widow, Jane, who never gave up trying to fund and launch recovery expeditions during her lifetime.

A keen, entertaining chronicle of the various attempts to locate a sensationally doomed expedition.

Pub Date: March 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24938-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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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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