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In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic
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In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  961 ratings  ·  84 reviews
In 1912, six months after Robert Falcon Scott and four of his men came to grief in Antarctica, a thirty-two-year-old Russian navigator named Valerian Albanov embarked on an expedition that would prove even more disastrous. In search of new Arctic hunting grounds, Albanov's ship, the Saint Anna, was frozen fast in the pack ice of the treacherous Kara Sea-a misfortune grievo ...more
Hardcover, 205 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1917)
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B
Jun 24, 2012 B added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: armchair adventurers
"In the Land of White Death" is the (nonfiction) diary account of Officer Albanov as he struggles for survival across the arctic ocean in hopes of finding land. On August 28, 1912 the Saint Anna with a crew of 23 set sail from the port of Alexandrovsk on a hunting expedition that was expected to end in Vladivostok. By October 15, the ship became lock in the arctic ice sheet and drifted ever northward. The crew survived two brutal winters inboard despite running out of fuel and having limited sup ...more
Kim
An engrossing first-hand account of a trek across the Arctic wilderness in a quest for survival. In this translation of Albanov's journal kept throughout his ordeal, Albanov describes, in great detail, the trials he and his followers faced while trekking towards safety. Despite knowing the ending before opening the book, it was easy to be held captive by his writing, waiting to see what happens next. While Albanov comes off as a smidge arrogant, it's hard to find fault with that--he managed to g ...more
Michael
This is a great a little book. After their boat was frozen in for 2 years, a group sets off across the ice flows to find help. The only bad thing was the journal that Valerian kept on the ship for the 2 years was lost!!! I would of loved to read that story. This first hand account of the trek across a frozen ocean is amazing. Well documented and gripping. His experience is truly something that very few have or ever will understand. I actually read the book twice... back to back. Yes, when I fini ...more
Pat Cummings
Although I have been a devotee of Arctic and Antarctic exploration for three decades, before 1997 I had never heard a word about the ill-starred journey of the Saint Anna... a French publisher recommended to me an obscure book, published in French in 1928, called Au pays de la mort blanche... originally published in Russian in 1917... I read Albanov with a sense of awe laced with a growing excitement, for it is a stunning revelation to discover a great work in a field of writing in which one thi
...more
Keegan Zender

I read In The Land of White Death by Valerian Albanov.


This book is about how some people went on a voyage in the antarctic on a ship called the Anna Maria and after about 2 years of being stuck in an ice lock up a number of them decided to abandon ship and try getting home by foot before they starve to death on their ship. Along the way they face treacherous challenges including almost starving to death getting attacked by Walruses multiple times and almost drowned to death but somehow Valeria
...more
William Easterly
In this wonderfully told story of adventure, Valerian Albanov is faced with a decision that will determine the rest of his life. In the beginning of the book, he and a crew of around twenty set sail to find both the northern passage and better hunting grounds. After making the trip to the glaciers of the far north, their ship becomes lodged in ice with no hope of freeing it. They then are trapped in the ice for almost two whole years, with no hope of ever reaching open water in the drifting craf ...more
Mike  Davis
Most readers of polar exploration are familiar with accounts of ill-fated explorers such as Scott and Shackleton. The diary of Russian explorer Valerian Albanov was only recently discovered in a French translation buried in a library, translated into English and published in 2000. It tells of an incredible journey of survival as he and some of his crew set out from his ice-locked ship in hopes of finding aid.

This, then, is an autobiography in the form of a diary or journal written by Albanov. Wh
...more
Vivek Kulanthaivelpandian
A very little known Russian arctic exploration story . If you are into polar exploration , then Brusilov Exploration story is a must read.It is on par with Shackleton's story. It vividly captures the travail this team endured to reach terra firma by foot/Kayak from a ice stranded ship "Saint Anna" from some where in Barents sea all the way to Franz Joseph islands. I finished this 230 pages book in a day as it is very gripping and couldn't put it down. Highly recommended. Another must read Russia ...more
Kirsten
This journal tells the story of Russian navigator Valerian Albanov's amazing ordeal in the Arctic. In 1914, Albanov joined a hunting and fishing expedition that would scout for whales, walruses and other lucrative sea life in the Arctic Circle. His ship, the Saint Anna, became trapped in pack ice only a few months into the journey, and remained frozen for nearly two years. With supplies running low and tempers fraying, Albanov and thirteen other men build kayaks and sledges out of materials on b ...more
Justin
In 1912, the Saint Anna shipped out from the northern coast of Russia in an ill-fated attempt to reach whaling grounds in Vladivostok. Frozen into pack ice and left to drift northward, the ship was never seen again. This is the story of the survivors, led by the ship's intrepid navigator and first officer Albanov, as he led a crew of ten men on a desperate journey on foot, by sledge and hand-built kayak through a maze of seracs, crevasses, open leads with little more than a sextant and broken co ...more
Diane
Albanov was the navigator on a Russian vessel, the Santa Anna, trying to sail through the NorthEast passage in 1912; it was a voyage of hunting as much as a voyage of discovery. The ship's captain was basically incompetent and the ship left without many needed provisions. It was almost immediately frozen in the ice and over the course of a year and half was pushed 1500 miles north while trapped in the ice. Albanov decided to try to walk for land and was joined by others on what seemed to be an i ...more
Lara
So, so interesting! The story of the crew (in the loosest sense of the word) of a Russian ship that gets trapped in the ice in the Arctic. Albanov, the former navigator, sets off with a bunch of men that have decided they want to leave the ship with him, several kayaks they've built themselves from what could be used from the ship, and miscellaneous supplies, in hopes that they can make it to land. Cold, hunger, betrayal, chaos and death ensue.

I found this especially interesting after reading s
...more
Larry Zieminski
Nov 09, 2010 Larry Zieminski rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: real-life adventure fans, survival story fans
I loved this book. I haven't read many books in the polar literature category, but I really enjoyed this one. It is a first hand account of a group of sailors who, having been icebound for 18 months, decide to leave the ship behind and travel over the ice to reach land. Most of the book is in the form of diary entries, written by one of the survivors as he made the trip.

The preface and introduction "spoil" most of the surprises (ie who survives the journey), but they are vital in setting the sce
...more
Clint
You consider yourself an expert in the literature of polar exporation and you still haven't been to the land of the white death? Expect a well-written, taut thriller as Albinov leads a desperate trek from the their ice-bound ship to Cape Flora in Franz Joseph Land. Surprisingly, Albinov's writing skills nearly equal his survival skills. Warning: high body count.

Questions:
Although he displays sound judgment and leadership with his rag-tag crew, I questioned whether it was a good idea to set off w
...more
Amerynth
"In the Land of White Death" is Valerian Albanov's stunning account of a ninety day journey across the barren wastes of the North Pole with his companions as they attempted to save themselves from an icy death. They man-hauled sledges and kayaks across the ice after their whaling boat was trapped in the pack ice for more than a year. The account is well-written and really interesting.... it stands up to the more well-known polar expedition stories. As I was reading, I really wished for a second ...more
Paul
In the list of (ant)arctic survival stories, this book was a good read, although not the best.
Still enjoyed it.
As long as there's snow and ice, and struggle against the elements for survival, I'm sold.
Aryll
the only reason i read this book was because i had to do a book report for school, it was on the list to choose from, and it was short. This book took forever to read, i had to force myself to finish it. (and the only reason i finished it was because by the time i decided to start working on my assignment it was too late to switch books. over all i didnt like this book

Edit: 4-12-12
After looking back at my report on this book from freshman year as well as what I had written as a sequel (part of t
...more
Ashley Lindsay
Read it in one sitting. A true story thriller, and with a dramatic twist in the epilogue...I believe I will be haunted by this account for years to come.
David
This is an incredible story. If you get bogged down in it, keep going, because the finish is beyond amazing.
Margaret
I'm so glad that there were so many arctic expeditions 100 years ago, it provides me with lots of reading material. For some reason, I never get tired of hearing about scurvy, frostbite, angry walruses and how delicious polar bear tastes. This is the diary of a man who fled a Russian expedition whose ship was trapped in ice before the first World War. The writing is lovely, descriptive and easy to read with lots of interesting detail. The forward/introduction includes spoilers. For some reason, ...more
Judy
Very well written and interesting story of surviving the arctic for 2 + years.
Doubledf99.99
Goood story, better have a warm fire going or read it in the summer...
Rodger
Sep 10, 2008 Rodger rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rodger by: Robert Marshall
Some people in this world are just tough. I am not one of them, nor anyone else I know. Valerian Albanov is, or rather was.

The story of survival in the artic is an amazing story. This book is Albanov's journal, kept as he was struggling over the ice pack to solid ground in 1914.

The Modern Library Version which I read has an introduction that is a spoiler. Jon Krakauer writes an introduction where he tells how the trek ends up. If you read this version, skip Krakauer intro.
Chas Bayfield
Somebody please turn this into a movie! It's an epic story of human struggle against the elements - and the will. Albanov is a gifted writer and he expresses fantastically the frustrations he meets - whether geographical, meteorological or (as was often the case) human. It is a real page turner and I gave mine away immediately for a friend who was desperate for me to finish it. I haven't read Shackleton's book but it can't be any more epic than this one.
Patrick
A gripping saga of the unbelievable fortitude of Valerian Albanov, a Russian navigator, who treks toward survival across the frozen Kara Sea and Franz Josef Land, to become one of only two survivors of the ill-fated Brusilov expedition. This guy builds sledges, skis and kayaks out of the spare wooden parts of the St. Anna, and drags his provisions across frozen sea, polynias and ice ridges, surviving on 'meat powder' and sleeping in Caribou-pelt-sacks.
Jean
This incredible story of Arctic survival is all the more astonishing because it was unknown in the English-speaking world until 2000. It took place in 1912-1914 when Valerian Albanov led 12 men away from their icebound ship in the Arctic in an attempt to reach land. Only two made it. The book was published in Russian by Albanov in 1917 from his diary. He is rather poetic--icing on the cake. His exploits rival those of Shackleton and Scott.
Carrie Lindsey
If you like survival, adventure stories this is a good one. It has been recently translated into English so is not as well know as the other survival stories of that era but it holds it's own against the best of them. It is easy to read and makes you wonder and marvel at the endurance and stamina of those men. Amazing, what they were able to overcome by sheer stubbornness and will. I love to read about them but would hate to be one of them.
Ann Hyder
I get whiney when it's snowing, even when snuggled warm in my house. This diary was good, but amazing when you read how they were able to navigate using the sun and an old piece of equipment. The descriptions make it very clear what they were up against. Of course, the writer was able to perfect the journal for publishing...I think I can give him that after surviving polar bears, walrus, -50 weather with a tent and a kayak that he made.
Jeremy
I am ashamed to say that I found this book hilarious. There's probably a special place in hell for people who laugh at other people's tragedies, but I couldn't help it. Albanov, the narrator of this true tale of survival, was an arrogant jerk. Of course, being an arrogant jerk was pretty much expected in pre-revolution Russia, but still.
Still, if you enjoy stories of polar exploration, this book is a must-read.
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