Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World

Andrea Pitzer. Scribner, $29 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982113-34-6
Journalist Pitzer (One Long Night) recounts the three Arctic voyages of 16th-century Dutch navigator and cartographer William Barents in this impressively researched history. Seeking a northeastern passage to China, Barents and other sailors and merchants subscribed to “the idea of a warm North Pole,” Pitzer writes, “an easily navigable sea... that might carry them over the top of the world and deliver them to profitable lands.” After frozen seas turned back his first two expeditions, Barents rounded the northern tip of Nova Zembla, an island north of mainland Russia, in August 1596. His ship became encased in three feet of ice, however, forcing Barents and the rest of the crew to wait out the winter in a cabin they built onshore. They survived polar bear attacks and temperatures of 30 degrees below zero, and in June 1597, with the ship still trapped in ice, set out for home in two small boats. Barents, who was suffering from scurvy and had poisoned himself by eating polar bear liver, died seven days into the return journey. Pitzer captures the terror of bone-chilling temperatures and crushing ice floes, and includes edifying digressions on the Dutch war of independence (1568–1648), Viking navigation techniques, and scurvy’s deadly effects on the human body. This engrossing account thrills and educates. Agent: Katherine Boyle, Veritas Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 09/18/2020
Release date: 01/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-9821-1336-0
Book - 978-1-9821-1335-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-2067-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4711-9209-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-2069-0
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