Bixby logs the ninety-year history and several metamorphoses of a ship that began as a Scottish sealing vessel and died as a prospective cocktail lounge and restaurant. For 41 of those years the Bear was a famous ship, helping to shape the history of Alaska. Originally a three-masted barkentine, the Bear was built of oak, pine, teak, Australian ironwood, and was outfitted with steam power. The record of her service in the Arctic and Antarctic is necessarily as much concerned with the objectives and methods of the men who manned her as it is with the ship itself--with weather, ice, explorations, seals, and war. The ship's first ten years as a sealing vessel are highly interesting. The Bear's record catch was 30,000 seals on her last run. Newly outfitted, she was bought by the U.S. government to go rescue the lost Greely Expedition in the Polar Sea. Subsequently, she became a Coast Guard cutter and served for fifty years as the lone patrol boat in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean, delivering medicine to stricken villages of Eskimos, fighting poachers, rescuing mariners. Admiral Byrd commanded her during his Second Antarctic Expedition, and she fought during World War II. Bixby works up considerable reader sympathy for the Bear.