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Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,270 Ratings  ·  300 Reviews
During the winter of 1999, Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the only physician on a staff of forty-one people, discovered a lump in her breast. Consulting via satellite e-mail with doctors in the United States, she was forced to perform a biopsy and treat herself with chemotherapy in order to ensure that she could survive until conditions permitted her rescue. She was eventually rescued ...more
Paperback, 377 pages
Published January 16th 2002 by Miramax Books (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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holly
Mar 28, 2008 holly rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite books ever. I found the most interesting part to be the description of what they do at the South Pole to stay sane and keep themselves amused. How much they look forward to receiving 'freshies' (fresh fruit and veggies) from the next drop-off.....how they form bonds with each other.......how they survive the long dar cold times...how cut-off they are from the world, yet have e-mail access....the story about the Doctor finding the lump doesn't even come about until abo ...more
Evan
As of the time covered by this book, 1999, only 1,200 humans had ever lived at the geographic South Pole, the center of Antarctica and the very bottom of the world. Even fewer had "wintered," there, hunkering down to survive from Feb-October when the temps could get to minus 100 and pitch darkness blankets the land and sky. The people who volunteer to take on the assignment -- free-spirits who nonetheless pull together in a jam -- comprise an almost cult-like exclusive band, self-dubbed "Polies. ...more
Margie
Apr 25, 2011 Margie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Margie by: Robyn
Twelve years ago Jerri Nielsen wintered over at Antarctica, discovered a lump in her breast, and had to be airlifted out.
Eleven years ago she published a book about the experience, and signed the copy I have.
Three years ago she died.

Her story is tremendously compelling, and much of it is well-written. The book alternates between narrative and emails between Dr. Nielsen and her family and doctors. The emails show that Dr. Nielsen was a good writer. The narrative parts seem more like the ghostwri
...more
Karina
Oct 21, 2008 Karina rated it liked it
Though I don't particularly like her writing style, this woman had a pretty incredible experience. She wintered over at the South Pole, and had to diagnose and treat herself for breast cancer. It was a little taxing at times to read through a voice so eager to sound nonchalantly adventurous and poetic. But, despite that it's a book that provides some interesting food for thought.
Susan Ferguson
Aug 13, 2011 Susan Ferguson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Amazing book! Dr. Nielsen's choice to go to Antarctica to the south pole Scott-Amundsen Station and the insights it brought and the friendships formed. Unhappy with corporate medicine and procedures (she was an ER doctor), she saw an ad for a doctor for the south pole station. She applied and was accepted. She went in 1998 to winterover with the base staff. Since a new station was being constructed nearby, this was about the last winter for residence at this one. There was also a consstruction c ...more
Brittany
Aug 12, 2008 Brittany rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Nonfiction fans, Medical professionals, Adventure lovers, Travel lovers
Recommended to Brittany by: My mom
Shelves: nonfiction
How I Came To Read This Book: My mom owned it.

The Plot: Jerri Nielsen is reeling from a messy divorce and overall estrangement from her family. She takes a doctor's post in Antarctica to escape her life, and is quickly enchanted (but also a tad frightened) by the hearty, jolly, community lifestyle down there. Things take a turn for the worse when Jerri diagnoses herself with serious, potentially fatal, breast cancer - right in the peak of the season when planes cannot fly in or out of the region
...more
Danielle
Feb 18, 2010 Danielle rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting to be stuck at home for a week due to 2 freak back-to-back snowstorms in Baltimore, so I wasn't prepared with something to read after I finished Age of Wonder. Thankfully bookshelf is stocked with plenty of free books I picked up working at Barnes and Noble many years ago or books cheaply bought at rummage sales that I've never read. This one actually appears to be a library withdrawal. After perusing my shelves for something to read I decided that Ice Bound would be an approp ...more
Phil
Nov 22, 2011 Phil rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. Such a great story of woman, Jerri who survived a horrible marriage, even losing custody of her children to an evil man and decided to re-invent her sad life by becoming a South Pole doctor for one year. During the dark winter which lasts 7 months with no physical contact to the outside world.. she discovers a lump in her breast. She and her new family of co-workers fight to help her preserve her life until a rescue plane can come to her aid. This happens and she lives ...more
Allison
Sep 09, 2011 Allison rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This was interesting. It was a glimpse of something that I just never have thought about before (life at the south pole) as well as a bit about Dr. Nielsen's life and trial of having discovered breast cancer while stranded at the south pole at wintertime. The culture of life at the south pole, especially during the winter months (when there is no option of leaving) seems very cultish and it is described very vividly (and I would say very well, but I really have no basis to judge that by). I can ...more
Randy
Aug 31, 2009 Randy rated it it was amazing

In the continuous stream of NPR that is my life, I just learned that Jerri Nielson died of breast cancer. Dr. Nielson wrote a book I’ve read more than once, and that has now become the final solidification of my vow not to lend out well-loved books.

Her book, Ice Bound a Doctor's Incredible Battle For Survival at the South Pole, co-written with Maryanne Vollers, fit every criteria I have for a great read: engrossing plot (which I remember in more detail than usual, considering I read it years an
...more
Paige
Feb 07, 2012 Paige rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I finished this audio book on this mornings commute. The book was read by the author, Dr. Jerry Nielsen, and I suspect she is a far better doctor than narrator. The story would have been even better had I read the book.

I was completely enthralled with the story of the emergency department physician leaving her comfortable life in the US to serve for one year in Antartica. Jerri gives plenty of facts about how living happens "on the ice" which I found fascinating. Most impressive however was her
...more
Craig Toerpe
Mar 27, 2013 Craig Toerpe rated it it was amazing
I have read this book multiple time, the most recent in 2010, to honor her legacy as scientist who endeared much and finally lost her own battle to cancer.

The book itself, is well defined by the title. It really is a fascinating read about how Dr. Nielson, with the assistance of medical doctors in the USA, was able to perform a biopsy on her own chest, to see if she indeed had breast cancer. Leading up to Dr. Nielson's incredible survival, she does detail the working life of those dedicated to
...more
Jacqueline O
Nov 20, 2013 Jacqueline O rated it it was amazing
The famous Jerri Nielsen gives her life story in the book . Jerri Nielsen talks about all of her adventures, good times, and close calls that she has had while living on the ice. The book gives you many interesting facts about the climate and how it can affect your life. She will make you laugh, cry, and to be thankful for what you have. you will never want stop reading this book.
The book begins with Nielsen's usual everyday life. She didn't have a very good life and she knew that she had to s
...more
Susan
Aug 23, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
I was "assigned" this book for my book club. I certainly was not looking forward to it. I am, however, so glad I read it. I liked that Dr. Nielsen described the life they lead at the South Pole vividly and with emotion. I learned a lot about something (Antarctica - South Pole) which I had very little knowledge. My take away from this book was a message of hope -- hope that when it seems that all is lost, there may still be a future. The bonding which occurred during their time of adversity spoke ...more
Dorothee Lang
Jan 15, 2016 Dorothee Lang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the 2016 world reading challenge, I looked for a book for Antarctica, browsed the goodreads list of that region - and arrived at "Ice Bound". The book instantly caught my attention. What fascinated me about it is that it's about the daily life in the South Pole station, written from a doctor's perspective. And that it turns from a casual pole station book to a memoir of a doctor who turns into a patient. Which at the pole in winter means: there is no outside help, and no other doctor.

What am
...more
Katy
Apr 22, 2011 Katy rated it it was amazing
I've had this book on my shelf FOREVER, and I finally decided to read it because "there was nothing better to read." I was right; there was no better book to read! This is the story of Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the doctor of an Antarctic polar station who discovered she had breast cancer AFTER the last plane flew north from the oncoming winter. The prose flowed and is eloquen and descriptive, making for an easy reading. I admire her courage and ability to make and live with hard decisions--leaving an a ...more
Albert
Mar 27, 2011 Albert rated it really liked it
Dr. Nielsen signed on for a year's hitch in the most remote outpost in Anartica as the physician for the small team which wintered over every year. Inaccessible to the outside world for many months, the team gave Jerri Nielsen the purpose she had never found and became the family she never had. Then, in the midst of this journey of self discovery, Dr. Nielsen diagnosed and treated her own aggressive form of breast cancer. A simply amazing survival story by this simply amazing woman fighting for ...more
Kim
Nov 23, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing
Just started reading this, but it is so interesting so far. I am listening to the audio version (as I work in the kitchen and drive in the car)--It looks like a great book and it is read by Dr. Jerri Nielsen the author of the book. If any of you can get it from the library, the audio is interesting!! It is the true story of the woman doctor who got cancer while at the South Pole and had to operate on herself etc.

OK, JUST FINISHED THIS AND IT WAS A WONDERFUL BOOK, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS NOT WRITTEN F
...more
Janine
Jul 29, 2011 Janine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Impressive account of a Doctor's personal, professional, and medical struggles at the South Pole: starting with the reasons she went there, and ending with the reasons she'd go back in an instant. "Wintering" at the South Pole - unreachable for 9 months out of a year - she is the only doctor, short on medical supplies, and faced with complications over the simplest measures because of the high altitude. Within this dome of home and hell, she discovers that she has cancer, and begins her desperat ...more
Evelyn
Aug 17, 2012 Evelyn rated it it was amazing
I remember hearing about this when it was happening so picked up the book at a library book sale. I found it to be very interesting....so many details about what it is like to live at the South Pole. In addition to the Antarctic climate, the pole is at 9,000 ft. elevation, meaning that one has to deal with altitude issues as well as temperatures as low as 100 below zero. There were 41 individuals who wintered over at the pole that year. Dr. Nielsen was the one doctor who was to care for any medi ...more
Kristine
Jul 29, 2009 Kristine rated it liked it
I'd been wanting to read "Ice Bound" for years, but never got around to it. I found a copy at a used book sale a few months ago, and it moved to my stack of books I'm going to read soon. Unfortunately, Nielsen died in June, nine years after she first discovered her breast cancer.

I really enjoyed learning what it's like to live at the South Pole. It's hard to imagine living in that frigid cold and darkness. What those people go through is incredible and how Nielsen had to treat her own cancer is
...more
Linda
Apr 29, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I commuted with this audio-book. After, only, about 5 minutes, I considered returning the CDs to the library. The reading was terrible. The author read in a monotone voice and often stumbled over words. Sometimes, she actually sounded like a computer. Since, my CD changer is in the backseat, it is inconvenient for me to change CD's while I'm driving, so I decided to let the CD continue to play all the way to work. By the time I got to work, I was hooked. The reading didn't improve, but the story ...more
Amy
Jan 01, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Want to know more about living on the ice nice the new station was built. Loved hearing how people lived and survived there.
CJ
Dec 12, 2009 CJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books
First, let me say that I'm in love with Antarctica. Even though I hate the cold, I would winterover in a minute. Nielsen is trying to bring balance to her very complicated life when she accepts the job as South Pole Physician. During the course of her stay, she discovers breast cancer and begins treatment.

She describes the landscape beautifully and the character sketches of her fellow polies are wonderful. The first thing I did when I put the book down was do a search on jobs in Antarctica. I m
...more
Courtney
Nov 28, 2015 Courtney rated it it was amazing
I got to read this book from the library, and it was a great read, especially because I didn’t have to pay for it. Unless you are fascinated by working in at the South Pole, I don’t see this being read over and over again. I did thoroughly enjoy it, and I will remember it, I suspect, for years. I do admit that the biggest motivator for reading this book was to find out what happened to the relationship with her husband and children. The book doesn’t have closure on it because it wasn’t finished ...more
Linda
Sep 27, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, br-bookshelf
The story of the Ohio ER doctor who committed to a year at the South Pole, but discovered she had an aggressive breast cancer. The woman pulls no punches. There were times that she was depressed and not getting answers to her cancers, which was very difficult considering the lengths she and others had to go to to get her medical care.
Well-written, gut wrenching considering personal issues she had to face. We all would be lucky to have friends and family as committed as Jerri Nielsen did.
Teri
Feb 28, 2009 Teri rated it it was amazing
I've read this multiple times. In the first half, Jerri describes getting the position of M.D. at the Antarctic station, the logistics in actually travelling to Antarctica, and how the members of the team there live day to day. This is fascinating. In the 2nd half, she discusses how she discovers a lump in her breast, and how it is diagnosed as cancer. She then, with the help of friends/co-workers, has to give herself chemo. A great story of survival and people working together.
Gerald
Following a very unhappy marriage and having her children alienated from her by her vindictive and manipulative ex-husband, an Ohio Emergency Room physician notices an ad in a medical journal recruiting for a physician to be a part of the "wintering-over" crew at the South Pole. She is ready for a radical change in her routine life and decides to go for it. She soon learns that "wintering over" means that all those on the crew are totally isolated from the rest of the world, except for satellite ...more
Ryann
Jan 03, 2011 Ryann rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and found it to be very informative and thought provoking. I had never before considered what living in Antarctica must be like. Neilsen's story was very interesting. After reading it, I looked up more about what happened to her later in life, as the book was written 10 years ago. She's very inspirational. Much of this book deals with life at the South Pole, rather than just the treatment of her cancer.
Patricia
May 07, 2011 Patricia rated it really liked it
Interesting look at life at the South Pole research facility. Focus, however was primarily on the title's topic. A doctor who developed a life-threatening condition while at the South Pole, miles away from any emergency hospital. This was later made into a TV movie, and there is an update on Jerri Nielsen since the movie. You can find that on the internet, but don't look it up until you've read the book.
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