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In the Arctic Seas

Francis Leopold McClintock

Book Overview: 

Lady Jane Franklin, the wife of Sir John Franklin, who went missing with his entire crew during his 1845 expedition to discover the Northwest Passage, commissioned Captain Francis McClintock to investigate what had happened to the expedition, and purchased for him the small steam yacht known as the 'Fox'. This is McClintock's own account of the two year voyage of the 'Fox'. Following an initially unsuccessful attempt to cross the Davis Strait, the 'Fox' was forced to spend the first winter trapped in the sea-ice off the coast of Greenland. After the next year's thaw, McClintock eventually reached the islands of the Canadian Arctic, where an extensive search finally revealed the grisly truth of the fate of Franklin.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .esterday evening, and at length, unable to see our way, we made fast at eleven o'clock to the ice. The wind had freshened, it was evidently blowing a gale outside the ice. During the night we drifted rapidly together with the ice, and this morning, on the clearing off of the fog, we steamed and sailed on again, threading our way between the floes, which are larger and much covered with dry snow. This evening we again made fast, the floes having closed together, cutting off advance and retreat. A wintry night, much wind and snow.

19th.—Continued strong S.E. winds, pressing the ice closely together, dark sky and snow;[37] everything wears a wintry and threatening aspect; we are closely hemmed in, and have our rudder and screw unshipped. This recommencement of S.E. winds and rapid ebbing of the small remaining portion of summer makes me more anxious about the future than the present. Yesterday the weather improved, and by working for thirteen hours we g. . . Read More

Community Reviews

At least skimmed this Bad Boy years back when writing a paper for my Arctic Anthro course. If you're into early explorers, grim tales of the wild, or cannibalism, you'll dig it!

Very interesting.Did they have to shoot every wild animal they saw ?

It's a good book for it's time though to modern readers the style will most likely seem both overtly verbose at times and at others incredibly dry. That being said it is by no means a bad read and the content is often thrilling enough to overcome any issues with the prose.

I've read some accounts, one fictional, of the Franklin expedition. This is about a ship sent by Lady Franklin to find out what happened. The end and beginning of the book were more interesting while the middle was a repetitive diary where many events were repeated. A bear approaches the ship and...more