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In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  17,272 ratings  ·  2,207 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Hampton Sides returns with a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age

In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost
Hardcover, 410 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Doubleday (first published August 1st 2014)
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Margaret Willoughby I'm new to the polar exploration topic, but it seemed that DeLong did thorough research and that he relied heavily on the experts of the day:…moreI'm new to the polar exploration topic, but it seemed that DeLong did thorough research and that he relied heavily on the experts of the day: Petermann, whalers, naval officers, and his own experiences in the northern latitudes. I found it fascinating because of the personalities of those involved--their strengths and weaknesses that made them come to life. I felt tremendous sadness for their suffering and admiration for their loyalty to one another. It was very interesting to witness the decision-making process of DeLong.

I highly recommend the book. It was my favorite of the year and one of my all-time favorites. The story and the people stick with you long after you finish the book.(less)
Andrea It's apples and oranges, really. In the Kingdom of Ice is a non-fictional account of an actual tragedy, and The Terror is fictional survivor story…moreIt's apples and oranges, really. In the Kingdom of Ice is a non-fictional account of an actual tragedy, and The Terror is fictional survivor story with supernatural elements based on speculation around true events. I recommend to go with both. I wouldn't say that reading one would be like reading all of them. Polar exploration is a fascinating subject, and often tragic one, and there are numerous books out there about different expeditions into the area that go along similar circumstances (stuck in ice, starvation, tracking across snowy wilderness, etc.) . Each has something to offer. I hope you find these books enjoyable. (less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
”About the same time the sun vanished, the ice began to move again. The noise was terrible---first the sounds of the ice warring with itself, then the more dreadful sounds of the ice warring with the ship. The turbulence started early on a cold November morning. De Long was awakened by a ‘grinding and crushing---I know of no sound on shore that can be compared to it,’ he said. ‘A rumble, a shriek, a groan, and a crash of a falling house all combined might convey an idea.’”

 photo USS Jeannette_zpsyxagv5jg.jpg
USS Jeannette

Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
By endurance we conquer
-- Sir Ernest Shackleton's family motto

The tree has been dragged to the curb. The lights are all packed. The wrapping paper has been recycled. All the new toys have been forgotten by the children, who are already asking for newer toys. Christmas is over. The long dark of the year has begun.

The other day I had the following conversation with my five year-old. It started when I asked her if she could sing something other than Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. You know, before
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Some fiction books read like not that exciting non-fiction, and some non-fiction books turn out to be really unputdownable. For me, this was the case with In the Kingdom of Ice. The story of the Jeannette and her crew who committed themselves to sail to the North Pole, terra incognita in the second half of the 19th century, is compelling. Mr Sides provides us with all details regarding the preparations for the voyage of which I had known nothing. Thorough research is one thing, another thing is ...more
Nancy Oakes
I know I just added this book yesterday, but I opened it at 1 pm when it arrived, let everything else go, skipped dinner, and read the entire night through because I could not put it down. I guess you might say that I LOVED this book:

a) It's about polar exploration, probably my favorite nonfiction reading topic in the universe, b) it's by Hampton Sides, who has not let me down yet with any of his books, and c) it's just so engrossing that I couldn't stop reading it. I'm pretty tired and cranky
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have read 5 or 6 of these types of polar adventure books and this one is one of the best I've found. I am not usually keen on non-fiction and I only read a handful a year, but this is exceptional.

The last one I read was on the Greely expedition and was entitled Ghosts of Cape Sabine. Greely was a terrible captain and not the shining example seen here in George Washington De Long. De Long was smart, capable, and a natural leader whose men followed him willingly.

The terrible things that
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Howard by: Steven Z.
In the fall of 2006, I drove from Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico and walked into the Kit Carson Home and Museum. When I entered I spotted an individual sitting behind one table while another nearby table held a stack of books. It was obvious that he was a writer promoting a book.

Taos, which hosts a number of festivals and celebrations every year, can be a busy little village at times, but not that day. There wasn’t much going on. In fact, there were only two other visitors besides me in the museum
What a journey!

I listened to this audiobook and was totally enthralled. The struggle for survival the crew of the USS Jeannette went through was a fight-for-your-life adventure. Lt. George DeLong and his engineer, Melville, were heroic characters that everyone would love. Their expedition to the North Pole was amazing and harrowing. What the crew went through to get to the Siberian Coast was an edge-of-the-seat listening experience.

Don't miss this nonfiction tale of survival, starvation, and
A terrific read about a doomed American attempt to sail to the North Pole via the Bering Strait in 1879. I didn’t set out thinking I wanted to read a harrowing account of an Arctic exploration. But based on five-star reads of two previous books by Sides, I took to heart that when a great cook asks you for dinner, you don’t need to bother asking what is being served. I knew I could count on him to make stories from history come alive with all the drama and character development you expect from ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cathrine ☯️
If your back was up against an iceberg these are the kind of men you would want by your side. Extraordinary fortitude and courage in the grand and terrible kingdom of ice. Hampton Sides writes nonfiction that reads like an epic adventure story. The audio was excellent.
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: polar-ice
I don't always read nonfiction, but when I do, it's the good stuff. Since reading The Birthday Boys with Kirk and the A-Team Readers, the allure of the icy poles has hit me hard. Well, as long as it is the turn of the 19th century, time-wise...

First up, here is a happy spoiler: MEN SURVIVED THIS! Don't ruin the experience by reading the blurb or googling the journey of the Jeannette. Go in blind (or snow-blind), and let the story unfurl like an American flag planted in the ice.

The basics? In
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THIS is one of those books that very many will enjoy.

It is both plot and character driven.
It is non-fiction that is never dry.
It keeps your interest from start to finish.

Hampton Sides is an author you can rely on. He delivers well composed books that are accurate, interesting and engaging.

The book will appeal not only to those curious about polar history.

I was drawn by the author’s attention to biographical detail. There were thirty-three onboard the Jeanette. Readers are given an in-depth
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It'll be a terrible injustice (and frankly perplexing) if this book doesn't become one of the big hits of this fall and holiday season.
It's a completely amazing and terrifying real story, which you can look up online fairly easily--DON'T. In the Kingdom of Ice reads like the most unputdownlable fiction and once you start reading you won't want the ending spoiled for you. Save the internet search for after you finish the book, when you'll be dying for just another drop of detail about these

The first half of the 1800's was mostly dominated by the Royal Navy as far as the Arctic was concerned. The desire for conquering something uncharted, almost unobtainable, did play a part in that. But the main – and somewhat disenchanting – reason for Britain’s Arctic excursions was purely financial. The English navy, having defeated Napoleon, had nothing major left to do. Most of the seamen were laid off and the officers were working at half pay, so any chances of promotions were really out of
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In July 1879 the USS Jeannette, captained by George Washington De Long, sailed from San Francisco heading for the North Pole. According to August Petermann, the foremost geographer of the time, the North Pole lay in the Open Polar Sea. A belt of ice lay around the sea and all that was required to reach the North Pole was to breach through this barrier. It would then be plain sailing. Thousands lined the hills of the bay to watch the ship leave on its voyage to claim the North Pole for the US. ...more
Very scarred now! But a fantastic depiction of how it All Went Wrong. Up there with Erik Larson for skilled nonfiction storytelling for me.
To tell the truth, polar exploring never held much fascination for me. The only thing that makes me think it might be magical is that so many explorers have mentioned the quality of the light. But the idea that one would risk one’s life and spend more than two years to “get through the ice pack” really seems like a dumb idea to me.

Given that, I probably was not the ideal reader for this book, but I took on this story because I thought maybe all would become clear. Sides tries to make it sound
Sep 09, 2014 rated it liked it
2.5 stars. A disappointment. The author almost lost me in the first 200 pages of background information. But I came here and read tepid reviews and was assured it got going 1/3 of the way in, so I skipped ahead to that point and had a better reading experience.

Let me assure you, the author's style is pleasant, and his research is exhaustive. If you're interested in any of his other topics, I suspect you'd enjoy those books. But what is this deal with recent NF books? They include every
Nicole R
From the moment I saw the description of this book I knew I was going to love it. Tales of survival intrigue me and tales of survival in the polar reaches of our planet are simply mind-blowing.

I take for granted all of the science we know about our planet and how relatively safe it is to travel to its far reaches. But it wasn't too long ago when that wasn't the case. In the 1870's, no human had been to the North Pole, few explorers had even forayed into the Arctic Circle, and hypotheses ran
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What an absolute privilege it is to have won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Not only do I love polar non-fiction, but now have the giddy anticipation of locating and reading everything writer Hampton Sides has ever written!

Mankind's desire to explore his environment has produced some amazing and courageous individuals. The account of the voyage of the USS Jeannette and her crew to locate and reach the North Pole during 1879-1882 is a riveting read from start to finish. Sides
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars

James Gordon Bennett is newspaper owner who specializes in the outrageous and not altogether true stories.

Captain George Washington DeLong made his name for a daring attempt made to reach survivors of a ship that was destroyed by ice in the Arctic when he was still a Lieutenant in the US Navy. The Arctic got into his blood, something that surprised him, and he spent several years studying and plotting to get back there – but as the captain of his own expedition this time.

Bennett becomes
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating and well researched story of the USS Jeannette and the tragedy that befell her and her crew. In the late nineteenth century people were obsessed with one of the last unmapped areas of the planet, the North Pole. Theories abounded but no one knew what existed beyond the ice that rimmed the northern oceans. Whoever could plant his flag at the pole would attain fame and glory.

James Gordon Bennett, the wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's
I wanted to read this book since it was published in May. After reading Dead Wake and The Boys in the Boat I was ready for another true story of heroism and dedication in the face of tragic circumstances. Well, I got more than I've bargain for. This book shook me to the core. I have never before experienced such a raw physical response to written words. During this read I had goosebumps on my arms, felt pin-like pricks on my head, was holding my breath for pages at the time, and had to remained ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far this is literally one of my favorite books I've ever read. Deeper review to come but I'm positive this will be a multiple read.

So, I finished and I have to say this book was amazing. I found myself actually wanting to know more about secondary players in the book, particularly James Gordon Bennett. He was a larger than life character and is begging for a great biography. The hardships that the men endured in those winters is something to behold. Anyone interested in nautical explorers
Steven Z.
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hampton Sides is a very engaging writer who has taken his readers through a number of diverse adventures. Whether hunting down James Earl Ray for the assassination of Martin Luther King; detailing the mission of US Army Rangers in January 1945 behind Japanese lines in the Philippines; ; or exploring the role of Kit Carson in the American west, Sides has always been able to break down each topic to capture the attention of his readers. His latest effort, IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE, is no exception as ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lots and lots of detail here coupled with intense character study. How real life events shape these people during this quest for information! Historic recognition of this Captain and voyage of discovery when it was thought that the Northern polar region was an open sea. An action movie in real life, within minutia of personality detail and written well. Epic tale of brave and smitten investigators. COLD.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
Recommended to Laura by: Chrissie
The author describes the story of the USS Jeannette, which was a naval exploration vessel which, commanded by George W. De Long, undertook the Jeannette expedition of 1879–1881 to the Arctic.

A splendid book, to not be missed.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Rae
There is nothing quite like a thoroughly researched, well-paced, well written non-fiction account of some jaw-dropping event that it seems hardly possible actually happened. Such books are inevitably difficult to put down and ‘The Kingdom of Ice’ is an exemplar of the genre. Hampton Sides (who has an Arctic explorer-esque name himself) recounts the extraordinary voyage of the USS Jeannette, whose crew intended to reach the North Pole. But wait, you might ask, how were they supposed to get there ...more
In the Kingdom of Ice follows the trails and tribulations of the brave men who explored the North Pole in the late 1800’s. The book focuses on the crew of the USS Jeannette which was bankrolled by the New York Herald and James Gordon Bennet and led by the United States Navy. The expedition was led by George De Long who had been gripped by “Arctic Fever” and like many of his crew had an intense desire to traverse to the North Pole. Although the expedition is not successful it does dispel many ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wooof. This was hard to read. I went into this not knowing anything of the expedition, so I had no idea of the fates of the men and ship. So I was on the edge of my seat for the last third of this book.

The things these men went through... I'm honestly not sure if there is a person alive today who could do it. Their ship was stuck in pack ice for two years. Then they had to travel across the ice on foot and with sleds, dragging and hauling 3 smaller boats, for 3 months just to get to open water.
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“He belonged to the men who have cared for great things, not to bring themselves honor, but because doing great things could alone satisfy their natures.” 4 likes
“He became more and more intrigued by the Arctic, by its lonely grandeur, by its mirages and strange tricks of light, its mock moons and blood-red halos, its thick, misty atmospheres, which altered and magnified sounds, leaving the impression that one was living under a dome.” 3 likes
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