Labyrinth of Ice is the first non-fiction book that I have read it quite a while! I first saw it when I was waiting for friends before dinner and decided to walk around a book store. I didn’t end up buying it and then I immediately wished I had. I could not get the title out of my mind for weeks afterwards. Finally I caved and ordered it AND another nonfiction book.
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
“In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely and his crew of 24 scientists and explorers were bound for the last region unmarked on global maps. Their goal: Farthest North. What would follow was one of the most extraordinary and terrible voyages ever made.
Greely and his men confronted every possible challenge—vicious wolves, sub-zero temperatures, and months of total darkness—as they set about exploring one of the most remote, unrelenting environments on the planet. In May 1882, they broke the 300-year-old record, and returned to camp to eagerly await the resupply ship scheduled to return at the end of the year. Only nothing came.
250 miles south, a wall of ice prevented any rescue from reaching them. Provisions thinned and a second winter descended. Back home, Greely’s wife worked tirelessly against government resistance to rally a rescue mission.
Months passed, and Greely made a drastic choice: he and his men loaded the remaining provisions and tools onto their five small boats, and pushed off into the treacherous waters. After just two weeks, dangerous floes surrounded them. Now new dangers awaited: insanity, threats of mutiny, and cannibalism. As food dwindled and the men weakened, Greely’s expedition clung desperately to life.”
Review: After finishing this book, I sat for quite a while and wondered how on earth I was going to review a nonfiction book. Usually, I have a handful of things that I look for and talk about in my reviews of fiction works but those didn’t quite apply here.
First off, I was enthralled at the level of detail that went into this work. Buddy Levy did an incredible job of tying together his research to create something that was comprehensive and easily understandable. Labyrinth of Ice is written in a narrative style but did not include much of the fluff that usually accompanies narrative nonfiction, which I appreciated.
Levy also did a great job of including picture archives throughout the chapters, adding journal entries, and including pieces of correspondence and written reports. This helped bring the book to life and showcase just how hard Greely and his men had to work to survive.
The book covers the span of about three years, beginning when Greely sails north and sets up camp at Fort Conger. It was well paced so as to keep the reader engaged and interested. There were many times where I felt my heart racing and my eyes crossing the pages quickly to try and catch up to where the crew was and make sure that they were safe.
As a lover of winter and all things arctic, I am really glad that I picked this book up. Labyrinth of Ice portrayed an expedition that brought about great scientific understanding of the north as well as showcased the determination to survive in such a harsh climate.
What nonfiction have you been reading? Do you have a specific area that interests you?
You can order this book on Amazon!