A gripping account of a disastrous 1879 American expedition to find the North Pole.
In 1879, Lt. Cmdr. George De Long and his officers and crew set off from San Francisco in the USS Jeannette, funded by the New York Herald newspaper and backed by the U.S. Navy. Finding the pole, “the world’s greatest mystery,” so captured the public’s imagination that more than 1,200 men applied for the 24 positions as sailors. Two Yup’ik crew members joined in Alaska. Unfortunately, the available maps were highly inaccurate, as was a renowned expert’s assertion that a warm ocean current led to the pole. Instead, once north of Siberia, the ship found itself stranded in ice for more than a year and then crushed by it. The men, separated into three groups, tried desperately to reach Siberian settlements. De Long insisted on preserving his and others’ writings, which provide the remarkable details that bring this story to life. The authors skillfully incorporate quotes from journals, letters, and official documents. Vivid language and narrative techniques such as cliffhangers maximize the drama, while well-chosen anecdotes convey the personalities. Archival, contemporaneous illustrations, maps, and mostly small photographs add an appropriately old-fashioned look.
Highly appealing narrative nonfiction for anyone who loves true adventure. (authors’ note, bibliography, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)