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Ice Station Zebra

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  16,959 ratings  ·  297 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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Average rating 3.99  · 
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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
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
Dee Arr
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy, suspense
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
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.
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
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
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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. ...more
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
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.
Lily Lindsey-Aubrey
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
Dom Carelo
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.
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
Recommends it for: skip the movie
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
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 books that's for certain. (Tom Clancy and his ilk) The characters are pretty well-defined with distinctive personalities even though not many words are spent on their characterization, the plot actually takes its time to build up logically and the prose can occasionally get quite beautiful when describing the Arctic landscape.

Speaking of that: It's also
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
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
L.A. Larkin
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
High tension and a lot of mystery about the central character. But who is the real hero? The Brit or the US submarine captain? The ending is a who-done-it. The details of the submarine under the Arctic sea ice and how the submarine breaks through to rescue a British team near death, is stunning. A great adventure.
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.
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.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read many of English thriller writer, Alistair MacLean's books. He can be hit of miss. I've read some that were not very good and then some that were excellent. Some of his war stories, HMS Ulyssess, Guns of Navarone, South by Java Head are excellent. Generally, he writes an action-packed, tense thriller with 'secretive' anti-hero. With that preamble, Ice Station Zebra is one of his better stories. It was turned into a movie in 1968 which was also excellent but at the same time quite differ ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it liked it
By Alistair Maclean. Grade: B+
Alistair Maclean has proved time and time again that he is the master when it comes to war fiction. Ice Station Zebra is no exception.
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 Sta
Bryn Young-roberts
What a cracking read!

Although it was written in 1963 MacLean's descriptions of one of the supposedly first nuclear submarines still feels fresh and an impressive technology to an overly-saturated sci-fi savvy readership of the 21st century.

The main character is compelling and doesn't come across as arrogant, which is an achievement considering his constantly being several steps ahead of everyone else. Although the story is being told by him, he is not always a reliable source of information, of
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Polar meteorological outpost Drift Ice Station Zebra has suffered a catastrophic fire. All heating fuel and most food stores are gone. The survivors have no transportation and it's the middle of winter. The only hope for a rescue falls to the U.S. nuclear submarine Dolphin. But: who exactly is the mysterious "Dr. Carpenter", an Englishman whom Commander Swanson is ordered by Washington to take along aboard his submarine? Was Zebra really "just" a weather station? And why does it appear some of ...more
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
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller-spy
Typical Alistair MacLean novel from the 1960s. Man vs. nature. Man vs. machine. Man vs. man (cold war setting). A rescue mission to a remote polar outpost is much more than it seems. Adventure at the North Pole with an atomic submarine. (MacLean loved the sea and loved writing about boats.) Don't worry about character development (there is none) or being tempted by the weaker sex (there are no women in this story). This is an actioner and we get right down to it from page one. I love it! Loved r ...more
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, nautical
A sort of anti-James Bond spy novel, with no female characters at all and settings that are anything but glamorous, yet for the most part a highly enjoyable Cold War era page-turner. Two caveats: MacLean, a Scotsman, puts far too many Britishisms in the mouths of his American submariners, something I'm very surprised wasn't caught in the editing process. Also the ending, one of those "let's gather everyone in a room and reveal the murderer" set pieces, seems to belong in a different book, perhap ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: have-read
I Read Ice Station Zebra when i was away at Boarding School 1965 it was the second of Alistair MacLean
Novels I Also read and thoroughly enjoyed "Night Without End" was the first I still feel it was the First Book to start my addiction for a good thriller just another Tip for the Author
I would have to give this Book 4 stars
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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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