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Ice Station Zebra

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  18,179 ratings  ·  370 reviews
Under the Polar Ice-Cap ....

The atomic submarine 'Dolphin' has impossible orders: to sail beneath the ice-floes of the Arctic Ocean to locate and rescue the men of weather-station Zebra, gutted by fire and drifting with the ice-pack somewhere north of the Arctic Circle.

But the orders do not say what the 'Dolphin' will find if she succeeds – that the fire at Ice Station Zeb
Paperback, 254 pages
Published October 1980 by Fontana (first published April 1st 1963)
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Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

Alistair MacLean was one of my late Dad's favourite authors & I read many of MacLean's books when I was young. My favourite was Where Eagles Dare. I'm fairly sure I haven't read this title before. I think I would remember the plot idea, as for me it was a very original one.

A nuclear submarine, the Dolphin, answers a distress signal to investigate what has happened at a weather monitoring station. Aboard the Dolphin is the mysterious Dr Carpenter, & it soon turns out he has a very close conn
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alistair MacLean never fails to deliver with his novels.

I initially picked out this book because I like reading about polar expeditions, both real and imagined. And I have had other MacLean books sitting under my bed waiting to be read.

This story didn’t disappoint. It was non stop action all the way through. And part of me kept thinking about the Jules Verne book I had recently read.

Even though this story was written in the 1960’s, it is not dated at all. Much of the technology in this book is s
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
A nuclear submarine heads for the Arctic circle to answer a distress call from a manned weather-monitoring station, then all hell breaks loose! MacLean delivers a very readable Cold War-era action thriller with locked-room mystery elements but you'll need to set your Suspension of Disbelief to maximum levels. As usual in this type of book, don't expect fancy prose or navel-contemplation. One could imagine a young Tom Clancy reading this book and musing about writing his own Cold War submarine ta ...more
Bob Mayer
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of the classic thrillers. Made into a decent movie.

Back in the good old days when the Soviets were the bad guys the Cold War was cold. Really cold in this case. MacLean was a master story-teller with fast paced plots. The race to Ice Station Zebra is classic; one thing this book taught me as a writer is that you can push the limits to develop characters. While some thing might seem amazing coincidences-- why not?

I commanded an A-Team in 10th Special Forces so we did Winter Warfare every yea
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the very best of Alastair MacLean. Also, Fear is the Key (my fav) and Night without End.

I must say there were some pretty awful movies made from his films, especially Ice Station Zebra. I remember seeing it in the cinema and quietly gagging the whole time.

I read all his books when I was a teen, and then up to Breakheart Pass, which did not impress me.
John Paxton
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My favourite and one of the very best from Alastair MacLean. Check it out & do yourself a favour.
Dee Arr
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense, spy
Whenever I read a spy story today, I inevitably compare it to those who I consider to be masters of the genre. Alistair MacLean is one of those authors, and “Ice Station Zebra” is a great example of his work.

This book is a gripping suspense tale, with all the excitement one could ask for. No, there are no car chases and no amazing shootouts, but somehow Mr. MacLean can easily keep a reader captivated for hours on end. What he does offer is good storytelling, mixing the spy genre with the whoduni
Not perfect, but has aged much better than Ian Fleming's novels about James Bond and stands heads and shoulders above most modern spy thriller novels I have read. (Tom Clancy and his ilk) The characters are pretty well-defined with distinctive personalities even though not many words are spent on their characterisation, the plot actually takes its time to build up from its internal logical and the prose can get quite beautiful when describing the Arctic landscapes.

Which reminds me: "Ice Station
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One part Agatha Christie, one part Hunt for Red October, this ended up being better than I thought it would be, because I had some real doubts over the first 75 or so pages. It really plods along over those early few chapters, taking a while to set up the story, show each of the main characters, show you the ship in what feels like more detail than needed, although you’re aware that a lot of it will come into play later, and it does. Once the ship is finally underway, however, the adventure pick ...more
Dom Carvelho
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best thrillers I ever read - MacLean was a master spy novelist and one of the best 20th century thriller writers.
Joni Dee
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ice Station Zebra is Not Responding

Drift Ice Station Zebra is not answering. In fact, after reporting a catastrophic fire which killed a few of its men, the remote British arctic monitoring station went off grid. Since it’s a drifting station, due to the north pole’s circular motion, nobody can actually pin point where it is. The West’s recon planes are getting nothing and even the surprising assistant from the Russians who sent an “Ice Breaker” class ship, came up with nothing.
American naval of
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For something different I decided try one of the classics of the suspense thriller genre to see how it held up. Obviously a product of its time - there wasn't a single female character if I recall correctly - its the way it was on a nuclear submarine in the early 60s. Apart from the submarine setting, which reads as very authentic, there is action on the Arctic (the eponymous Ice Station Zebra) and international intrigue afoot that is best read fresh.

The story, even after over half a century, is
Larry Loftis
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another winner from a master.

As I mentioned in earlier reviews, MacLean is intoxicated with adverbs, particularly attribution adverbs. One can only read "he said savagely," "he said gently," "he said admiringly," and so on in every paragraph before it gets annoying. But in MacLean's defense, many in his day considered this habit an attribute of quality writing. And besides, MacLean's stories are so good that we can overlook this small demerit.

Like MacLean's "Where Eagles Dare," "Ice Station Zeb
Lost Planet Airman
A classic adventure tale, although the narrator kept a lot of screts from everyone including the reader.

Intending this book to fulfil the Seasonal Reading Challenge WINTER CHALLENGE 2017
25.4 - Nick KY’s Task: White Winter, Yellow Moon, book 1,option B. The book is on page one of the list Ice and Snow.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ice Station Zebra is a classic suspense/thriller during the height of the cold war. It is somewhat dated now, but it has some great elements of epionage, murder, plot twists, and heroics. It is a light, yet entertaining read.
The Girl with the Sagittarius Tattoo
I grew up watching Ice Station Zebra on TBS, and generally anything else that station aired. When I found out that old movie was based on a novel, I had to read it. It turns out the movie was a pretty loose adaptation of the book - they even changed the names of the characters and the rescue vessel, which seems weird.

During the Cold War, a US nuclear submarine is dispatched on a rescue mission to an Arctic weather station. A distress call indicates a catastrophic fire destroyed the station, and
Laurel Potter
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
All the books Alistair MacLean has blessed this world with that I have read, I have loved. But this one tops them all, and has landed right on the top of my favourite books list. Every time I read it, it gets better, too.

I'm a really sensory person. I love the nitty-gritty bits, the times when a writer makes you feel everything. MacLean does just that. There's one chapter that is just so intense that I actually caught myself holding my breath by accident while reading it.

Besides the wonderful,
Patrick Nichol
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a first-rate Cold War thriller that stacks up well against the Tom Clancys of the world.

The book is also completely different from the famous Rock Hudson film.

MacLean's novel is a finely-crafted whodunit set in the frigid High Arctic.

Why did a fire break out on the British Arctic research station Zebra? And why is a U.S. nuclear submarime obliged to rescue, taking along a mysterious British physician with carte blanche from the Pentagon?

Toss in subterfuge, Soviets and constant jeopardy
Aug 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this a long time ago. I saw someone had posted they had read it and it triggered my memory so I'm adding it to my "have read this" list. ...more
Conrad Kinch
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I've always had a fondness for Alistair MacLean. My father would return home from work in Dublin City centre and leave his wool coat steaming in the hall. There was a second hand bookshop near the train station and he would stop off on Fridays and special occasions and buy a handful of paperbacks. The rules of the game were as follows, if I'd been good, I would be directed after dinner that "You might find something interesting, if you look in my coat."

If reports were bad, these might mysterious
Dalton Lynne
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Ice Station Zebra was pretty good - once you got halfway or more into it. Before that time, it felt quite plodding ... far from engaging. This is the reason I knocked off one star from the review. It also didn't help that the narrator was a bit on the dull side. Otherwise, I'd have given it four stars because when everything came together it was fairly solid.

However, I also have to add that when the bad guy was 'revealed' at the end, it wasn't surprising, as I'd already pegged who the villain wa
Ann aka Iftcan
Oct 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Ok, I enjoyed the book but frankly the movie SUCKED big time. Even Ernest Borgnine (who is a great character actor, btw) couldn't save this one. His character didn't even appear in the book, the whole ending was messed up and. . .

Oh wait, I'm supposed to be reviewing the BOOK. :o)

The book is a great read, but then I haven't found a single one of Maclean's books that I didn't enjoy.

I like the interplay between the characters in this one and the descriptions of the ice pack actually made me feel C
Clint Hall
Jul 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: submarine, espionage
Have you ever seen a 1950's action/thriller movie? Black and white melodramatic characters who talk mostly with their hands, and dip into a lengthy monologue to explain to the viewer what they missed? Do you love that as much as I do? Then you will enjoy this book!

It's a submarine story about a rescue mission to the Arctic at the height of the Cold War. The main character is a little shifty, not quite what he seems, but won't let the reader--or other characters--in on the secret. A modern reader
One of MacLean' best, and still stands up well today as a "historical spy novel." Turned into a pretty decent film, too, with Rock Hudson and Patrick McGoohan. ...more
This is hands down one of the most intense thrillers I have ever come across. Then again, I'll admit I haven't read a whole lot of thrillers in the first place.

Ongoing Cold War. A British Meteorological drift station set up in the Arctic- Ice Station Zebra, has gone completely off the grids. No one can locate it anymore as it is drifting away across the North Pole. What's worse, is that the last communication that was established with the station was of an SOS singnal being sent from there, for
Dhiraj Sharma
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Along with HMS Ulysse, Golden Rendzevous and San Andreas this is one of the best MacLean Novels.
A USN Nuclear Submarine dashes to the Arctic to rescue a British meteorological team trapped on the polar ice cap. However except the protagonist nobody knows that the rescue attempt is really a cover-up for one of the most desperate espionage missions of the Cold War.
MacLean is at his favourite territory here i.e the Sea. The climax is the proverbial "tables were turned".
Believe me nobody writes l
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Real thriller. Great and entertaining read. Keep you reading it til the end.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of this contained too much information about submarines for my taste, but they quickly reached the arctic ice where it became more interesting, and the second half was gripping.

You can see John Buchan's influence on MacLean in this all-male adventure where the protagonist develops bromances with several of his fellow submarine passengers. It makes for a slightly strange thriller, since MacLean has also adopted some of Buchan's archaic tone, shoehorning it into 1963 and the Cold War. What seems to be all his own, though, is an overreliance on adverbs. Someone says something "quietly" about five times per page. And in all of the tense, fraught, and dangerous situations t
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this when a young teenager about 40 years ago. Alistair MacLean was my favourite author at the time, but back then I was a bit disappointed with this one. On reflection I'm pretty sure this was because I had seen the not very good Rock Hudson star vehicle film first, which was massively different to the novel and all a bit over the top and silly . Forty years on, with the gradual dissipation of my grey matter taking effect in a positive way for once, I'd forgotten most of the detail ...more
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Alistair Stuart MacLean (Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacGill-Eain), the son of a Scots Minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Royal Navy; two and a half years spent aboard a cruiser were to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his first novel, the outstanding documentary novel on the war at sea. After the war he gained an English Honour ...more

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