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The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk and the Miraculous Rescue of her Survivors

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,358 ratings  ·  122 reviews
In 1913 an expedition party sailed out of British Columbia in search of an undiscovered Arctic continent. Filled with hope and excitement, the twenty-five people on board had no hint of the tragedy that lay ahead. Imprisoned in ice, abandoned by their expedition leader, and blown off course by polar storms, the Karluks crew was eventually forced to abandon ship on the ice- ...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Hyperion
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K.D. Absolutely
I bought this book because of two reasons: there is "ice" in the title and the day I bought this, the temperature in Manila was averaging 36 deg Centigrade. Teethering below fever temperature. So, I said why not read something that is set in a snowy or icy land? When I saw this book being sold at P45 ($1), I bought it right away and cracked it open after few days. But tough luck, it took me two weeks to finish this and when I was winding down, the rainy season has just started and the weather wa ...more
Toni Wyatt
From beginning to end, this well researched and haunting tale, brings the reader into the unforgiving arctic along with the ill fated crew of the Karluk. The audacity of Vilhjalmur Stefansson goes beyond what any person with a moral conscience can conceive. If not for the level headed and knowledgeable Robert Abram Bartlett, all hope would have been lost from the outset.

Using the actual journal entries from the members of the Karluk, Jennifer Niven has painted a vivid and long lasting picture o
Great book. Amazing. Incredible. Marvelous. I couldn't put it down. Matter of fact, even though I finished reading it, I still don't want to put it down. I want to carry it around and show it to strangers and say, "Hey! See this book? You should read it." It's that good. Remarkable. Oh.... And I liked it.
Ever wonder what would happen if you compiled a group of arctic explorers and added in an abnormally high number of nefarious ones? I think you'd have what happened to the Karluk, starting with the captain abandoning her as soon as he possibly could to starving men stealing from other starving men. There is definitely worse to mention, but I won't spoil.

The struggle for survival, what the human mind and body will do, is fascinating and Niven did an excellent job telling the story of these men. F
The year was 1913, polar expeditions had become the Last Great Adventure, and the names of Scott, Peary, and Shackleton were household words. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a lesser-known Arctic explorer, persuaded the Canadian government to fund an expedition that he hoped would raise him to the same pantheon, for he meant to discover the vast continent he was sure lurked beneath the polar ice cap. Stefansson was one of those figures in history who are too sincere to be considered con men, too impressi ...more
This book was a little out of my usual arctic grouping. Much like the Jeannette, they got stuck in the ice pack, the ship went down, and they ended up on Wrangel Island off Siberia.

The expedition was relatively late (1913-4), so they had learned some things from the other expeditions...but not nearly enough. Another fascinating arctic story.

I had some concerns with the accuracy of the book - she seemed to imply that no one survived the Jeannette expedition, which isn't true, and also repeated a
On Tuesday, June 17, 1913 a whaling boat named The Karluk set out on a scientific exploratory adventure that it was destined to never complete. At thirty-nine meters long and 250 tons this wooden hulled fishing boat was ill prepared to face the travails of arctic water and her newly hired master had grave concerns about her abilities as a freighter let alone as an ice-breaker. But a glory seeking explorer Named Vilhjalmur Stefansson found her to be cheap and available and thought she would do ju ...more
My grandfather Babb spent a great deal of time traveling and lecturing, and I assume that is how he acquired an autographed photograph of Vihjalmar Stefansson, a polar explorer. As a child I was fascinated by this picture of the famous man that my Grandpa knew – a man with a strange name, dressed in fur and skins. Now that I have read this book, I have a rather different picture of the man. The Karluk was one of three ships in an expedition poorly organized by Stefansson, planned to survey the ...more
This account of early western-arctic exploration and misadventure is marred by Niven's transparent bias toward some crew members and against others. She details the transgressions of her villains in exquisite relief, even hinting broadly at murder without a shred of forensic evidence, while glossing over or conspicuously failing to recount the daily behavior and disposition of her chosen "good guys". The discrepancy is even more glaring as her principal source is the written - and rewritten - re ...more
Pete daPixie
There are so many plus points to Jennifer Niven's 'The Ice Master'. Primarily the author has meticulously researched a long lost polar epic that should not have been forgotten or ignored in the first place. Also the author has embellished her narrative with a descriptive excellence that is of the highest quality writing in the field of historical non-fiction. To learn that Niven has been employed as a screenwriter for ABC television is not a surprise. The reader is gripped in this compulsive pag ...more
I first heard this book read aloud on NPR and I was hooked. Enjoyed it just as much when I sat down to read it myself. Adventurous, emotional and compelling tale.
Tom Johnson
unrelenting hardship - after 200 pages I started to feel beat up myself - Stefansson was a grifter for the ages, he would have made a fine Republican - Niven's next book, ADA BLACKJACK was even better - because of ADA I had to read her account of the doomed voyage of the Karluk - scoundrels aplenty with a few heroes which unsurprisingly included the 5 natives - learned about nephritis (caused by the survivor's exclusive diet of poor quality pemmican) - be sure to read the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, JN's m ...more
Neill Caldwell
Excellently told tale of an incredible story. Amazing detail for something that happened 100 years ago. Jennifer is a very talented young writer and I look forward into reading all of her books.
Terrific book about a terrible Arctic expedition. A poorly planned voyage in an old leaky wooden boat with a group of mostly ill-suited untrained personnel with only a few who had any experience in sub-zero weather. Includes everything you need to know about how not to conduct an arctic expedition. The author has done a masterful job of describing the conditions, personnel and situations in which some people rise to the occasion and others avoid all responsibility including looking out for their ...more
Brillantly written, truely a harrowing read of epic proportions. In 1913, the H.M.C.S Karluk embarked on what was to be the most elaborate Artic expedition in history with the largest scientific stuff ever taken on such a journey. Out of twenty two people who boarded the doomed Karluk that day, twelve survived.

The Karluk eventho, before her journey she underwent four thousand dollars worth of additional repairs she was not ice worthy to say the least. The captain warned by the naval service the
Loved it! Amazing nonfiction showing tenacity of these men to survive. Whether it be the camping out on the ice, the trek to the desolate Wrangel Island or the ultimate rescue mission across Siberia...I'm just amazed.

I appreciated the conglomeration of "just the facts" from the Karluk men directly. The mystery between Breddy's death remains just as that...a mystery for you to determine from the facts.

I also loved learning the survival tactics utilized by the Eskimos. What a test of adaption for
After reading, Endurance, Unbroken, Island of the Lost, and The Lost City of Z, it seems I should be sick of reading about people getting shipwrecked, marooned on deserted islands, stranded on the ice, and scrambling to survive in hostile environs after all plans go awry -- so far, I haven't. In part it's the thrill of the narrative and finding out what men are capable of under duress. Another attraction is the mental gymnastics and introspection that go with placing yourself in a similar situat ...more
The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk by Jennifer Niven. I have to say that I have been putting off doing a review on this book. I am not certain that I have the ability in me, to express how this book affected me. Jennifer Niven most certainly developed the story line in such a way, that I could see what was happening, in my mind's eye. I could also feel the harsh cold, in my imagination and either experience the darkness, or the midnight sun.

This was not an expedition that I wa
Dec 03, 2012 Sharon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes an adventure story
I am not normally drawn to books like this, but have enjoyed Niven's fiction writing so much, I wanted to see how she handled non-fiction. This was Niven's first book and one for which she has since received much acclaim. With the help of journals, historical documents and conversations with family members of the survivors, Niven chronicles the doomed voyage of the H.M.C.S. Karluk which set sail in June 1913 on the most elaborate Arctic expedition in history. Due to delays and all-around poor ti ...more
I am a huge fan of polar exploration stories and Jennifer Niven's book "The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk" fits right in among the great books I've read on the subject.

The Karluk expedition occurred after the North Pole was already discovered and appeared to have little purpose, except to get the organizer out onto the ice, as he left 20 other men to fend for themselves. More than half of the crew died after the ill-fated Karluk got trapped in the pack ice.

Niven mostly tells t
AdultNonFiction Teton County Library
Teton County Library Call Number: 919.804 NIVEN
Suzy's rating ****'s
This is one of my most favorite epic arctic maritime disaster story. The characters are rich, in this story of the Karluk. There is the self interested expedition leader, who abandons the expedition as soon as the ship is caught in the ice, and skis back to Canada. In contrast, there is the ship's heroic captain who struggles over 700 miles to save the ship's crew stranded on Wrangel Island after drifting, caught in icepack. I wo
Apr 20, 2014 Carla marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up in Alaska and read it on an Alaskan cruise. I couldn't wait to get back to my cabin after dinner to continue reading. Just a really exciting true story! This is so much better than many adventure books that are on the 100 top non-fiction lists. If you are an adventure lover (not just history) I can't imagine your being disappointed.
Niven has done an excellent job depicting this episode in American history. She not only presented it accurately, but was able to portray the anxiety of the men involved, also. It really comes to life as you read it.
If you like it, be sure to read the follow-up saga "Ada Blackjack : a True Story of Survival in the Arctic".
The “The Ice Master” is about the doomed 1913 voyage of the Karluk, a ship sent to the Arctic Circle to find a “lost continent”. There was no land that was lost, but this crew had to get lost in order to find that out. It is an incredible tale of survival that should be turned into a movie. It was hard to put down.
What an amazing story of courage and survival. I cannot imagine surviving on such meager supplies or surviving in the cold of the arctic but a few of the crew of the Karluk did. It is even more amazing since it happened in 1913. A year out in the wilds of the arctic - unfathomable to me.

Jennifer Niven did a wonderful job of compiling the diaries and accounts of the men who left records.
Low 4. Niven has taken the diary evidence of one of the survivors of this doomed Arctic expedition to produce an enthralling account of how the courage of one man and the self-absorbed cowardice of another decided the fate of a crew whose ship becomes trapped in the Alaskaan ice. The survivors become trapped on Wrangel Island. The leader of the expedition, Steffanson, failed to adequately equip and resource the expedition, and then fakes a hunting party to arrange his own abandoning of his forlo ...more
Oh my goodness, a solid 4.5 stars for me! What a story and so well writting that I cried at the end. Jennifer Niven has a way of writing that got me interested in the fates of these people stuck in the arctic ice. This is a story of a voyage to the arctic circle that was doomed practically from the beginning. An old, ill equipped ship set forth to discover uncharted lands within the arctic circle. It left too late in the year and encountered ice it couldn't escape. What follows is the story of t ...more
I think this might be my favorite book on arctic exploration so far. Jennifer Niven's myriad descriptions of frozen, and half-frozen limbs never get old.
The book is based on the journals, and manuscript of a member of the "Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk", and Niven completely adopts his irritation with fellow members. The caption below a portrait reads, "Chief Engineer John Munro who, though lazy and ineffectual, was left in command on Wrangel Island by Captain Bartlett."

What I learned from th
This is a piece of journalism about the 1913 sinking of the Karluk as scientific vessel sent out to try to find the mythical northern polar continent. I love this kind of book: the hardships, the dying of frostbite and scurvy, the long wait for rescue which may never come, but although I enjoyed this book somewhat, I wouldn't read another by this author. Her research was very thorough and I felt that she recreated some of the characters very well, so that when they start to die, I really felt th ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Ice Master by Jennifer Niven 1 9 Jun 07, 2015 06:31PM  
  • In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic
  • Farthest North
  • Ghosts of Cape Sabine: The Harrowing True Story of the Greely Expedition
  • Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition
  • Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written
  • The Lost Men: The Harrowing Saga of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party
  • The Home Of The Blizzard: A True Story Of Antarctic Survival
  • South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the 'Fram', 1910-12
  • Resolute: The Epic Search for the Northwest Passage and John Franklin, and the Discovery of the Queen's Ghost Ship
  • The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen's Race to the South Pole (Exploration)
  • Caliban's Shore: The Wreck of the Grosvenor and the Strange Fate of Her Survivors
  • The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America's Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas
  • Barrow's Boys: The Original Extreme Adventurers: A Stirring Story of Daring Fortitude and Outright Lunacy
  • The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage
  • Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure
  • Curse Of The Narrows
  • Ice Blink: The Tragic Fate of Sir John Franklin's Lost Polar Expedition
  • South with Endurance: Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917
By the time I was ten, I had already written numerous songs, a poem for Parker Stevenson ("If there were a Miss America for men, You would surely win"), two autobiographies (All About Me and My Life in Indiana: I Will Never Be Happy Again), a Christmas story, several picture books (which I illustrated myself) featuring the Doodle Bugs from Outer Space, a play about Laura Ingalls Wilder's sister en ...more
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