The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-03-04 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

"If the writing had been less dense, I think this book could go more places than it will. The story is truly amazing and was impossible, but it was done with brave men, indigenous people, animals, and a sense of heroism and accomplishment.

The pictures are intriguing and add to the understanding of the terrain and horrific conditions as well as the scarcity of resources and how much the rescue fell to the small whaling camps, native communities, and the luck of the weather (and in most cases how it turned against them!). The characters, the real life people, are the true heroes as they plod along the Arctic to rescue seamen whose ships have been caught in the ice from certain death.

Again, my biggest criticism is the length of the storytelling. Each painful detail is rehashed and most students will zone out and give up before feeling the adventure much like a Gary Paulsen story or the survive-against-all-odds nature like a Jack London story.
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"As an adult, I really enjoyed this book. The story of the trip over thousands of miles of Alaskan shoreline during the winter was amazing. The men who accomplished what many thought to be impossible were very brave and heroic.

As I was reading, though, I kept wondering if this story was written with enough excitement to entice my fifth graders to try to read it. The prose is very matter-of-factual. This, after all, is nonfiction. I guess I was hoping for some of the excitement that the reader can feel in fiction survival stories that would keep my students reading.

That said, I think older students would very much enjoy this book. The added maturity and background knowledge of an 8th or 10th grader would allow them to read this book and picture the hardships that this Expedition encountered. This would help provide the excitement that I felt, but I don't think my students would feel.
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"When winter comes unexpectedly early in 1897, eight whaling ships and 300 sailors are stranded in the ice. Although a scientist, a whaling station owner and some of the indigenous peoples provided shelter and food, supplies would certainly run out before the ships could be freed. This engaging nonfiction title describes the journey of three men who traveled across the frozen Alaskan territory driving herds of reindeer ahead of them, a sort of Meals on Wheels to keep the whalers alive. It's hard not to be amazed at the courage of David Jarvis, Samuel Call, and Ellsworth Bertholf who made that journey as described in vivid detail in the book's thirteen chapters. The inclusion of photographs and back matter telling what happened to the men after the mission ended adds to the book's appeal. Readers will wonder at the courage of these men and their dog teams, of course, while also pondering about the environmental changes in the Arctic region over the past century. " said.

"2 1/2. The real-life events behind this book are fascinating and, while this book is beautifully designed and the maps + actual photographs are great additions, I didn't always feel that the narrative did the story justice. Even with a teeny bit of knowledge regarding whaling, I thought a little more background on the profession would've been helpful, as would a cast-of-characters at the start of the book. It took me a while to get the who's who straight and I frequently had to go back and reread paragraphs, because I wasn't clear on what exactly was happening, or things seemed to happen really quickly and I felt like I missed stuff. Which maybe I did by skimming, because I probably did skim during the drier parts. And there were dry parts, so take it as you will. Interestingly, though, I found the story most engaging once (spoiler!) the rescuers made it to Point Barrow and were waiting around for the ice to break up. Plus, I teared up reading about what happened to all the players after the story here, so the book definitely made an impact. I just wish that it happened a little sooner, during the bits that should probably have been the most exciting. " said.

"As the year begins to wind up, I'm trying to catch up with all of the notable children's non-fiction from 2012. This was the first of those such books I began while in the middle of a vacation I took leading up to Thanksgiving. This little known rescue of stranded whalers off the coast of Alaska in the late 1890s was filled with first-hand accounts from those directly involved with this harrowing rescue. Conditions were terrible, but the rescuers had much help along the way from the various peoples living in this frozen landscape. Lots of photographs that struck an eerie chord - the black and white depictions of ice and snow were chilling and yet almost seemed to lack resonance because of the colorless format. The book had some ok back matter, but nothing to write home about. This story would have been greatly enhanced by some interesting side-panel graphics or little features on life in Alaska or whaling, etc.

The narrative was very straight, and was often gripping. At times though it got bogged down in too much detail, and it could have used a little more of a narrative punch. Just the same, a great book about surviving the elements. I wonder, however, if many kids will pick this up. The topic has a lot of potential but the presentation leaves a bit to be desired.
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"It’s winter, but it’s not a Midwest winter- it’s the Arctic. The people involved in this harrowing story didn’t have warm homes to bundle up in. In fact in the beginning they weren’t even on land they were in ships. They were on whaling ships that waited just a little too long to head home and ended up getting stuck in the ice on the far northern shore of Alaska.
While the captain and crews from the ships were able to make a 60 mile trek to the closest town they’re still trapped. There’s not enough room for all the men, food is limited and the situation was looking desperate. They weren’t sure they’d be able to make it through the harsh Artic winter.
Luckily- a rescue mission was launched! The Impossible Rescue chronicles the fate of the whaling ships, their crews and the incredible rescue mission that took place to ensure their survival through the winter. Just three men were assigned to the mission of crossing 1.500 mile of cold and brutal Alaskan frontier to reach the stranded crews. Through journal, entries, photographs and more Martin Sandler tells the dramatic tale of how these 3 men risked their lives to save others. A gripping and exciting true story that will make you extra glad summer is here!
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"In September 1897, winter came early in Alaska, and eight whaling ships became stuck in the rapidly-forming ice at the northern tip of Alaska, leaving 265 whalers trapped with few supplies and little food. When word got out about their predicament, none other than U.S. President William McKinley ordered that they be rescued and provided the outline of just how that was to be undertaken: three men were to land on the Alaskan coast--as far north as they could go--and then cross the 1700 miles to the stranded men, along the way convincing two reindeer herders to let them buy their herds on credit and help bring the deer across mountains and ice through the blizzards of the Alaskan winter to the stranded men. Although the daring rescue seemed impossible, men volunteered to be the rescuers and set off to face the brutal conditions and harsh terrain in order to try to save their fellowmen.

This real life adventure is a must-read for anyone looking for interested in fascinating but overlooked stories from history. It's made all the better by the fact that Sandler has included photographs of the expedition. Readers will enjoy following along as the three rescuers, and the Alaskans willing to help in their journey, race against time and the weather to make it to the stranded men in time.
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" I found it really hard to care. Too many names, too many dudes, too much snow, too many disasters: it all ran together and turned into mush in my brain. I do think that Arctic exploration and adventures are interesting and exciting, but this book didn't do enough to make those adventures distinctive and engaging. " said.

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