BOOK REVIEWS

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

UPDATE TIME: 2018-06-15 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:0763650803
LANGUAGE: English

"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.

"The Impossible Rescue is an amazing true story of leadership, teamwork, survival and selflessness. In 1897 eight whaling ships and three hundred crewmen were entombed in ice when an early, fierce winter bombarded them with freezing storms and no way to escape. President McKinley ordered a rescue, but the mission was so dangerous and success so remote that he said no one could be ordered to participate. Three men stepped up to create a plan and excute the rescue. The logistics involved are mind boggling - - survivial gear, food for rescuers and whalers, transportation, shelter, timelines for meeting up with other teams, staying ahead of deadly weather patterns, setting up medical stations, unreliable maps, getting supplies to the right place at the right time. Just the planning alone is terrifying. One of the most inspiritional aspects of this story is the cooperation that was willingly given to the rescuers by the indigenous people of the arctic and the Laplanders of northern Europe who sacrificed their own physical and economic well being to help save the whalers. They also showed the rescuers how to survive in temperatures of 40 to 60 degrees below zero. Without them the rescue never would have happened and the rescuers probably would have died as well. The Impossible Rescue is a perfect choice for readers who think they don't like non-fiction, readers who love adventure, or readers who love miraculous survival stories. The Impossible Rescue should also be required reading for every leadership and civics class. " said.

"Reason for Reading: This book covers many of my interests; the time period, true tales of survival and life in the Arctic. I had not hear of this true story and it appealed to me.

When first setting eyes upon this book, the thing that strikes one is the coffee-table book appeal. The book is an over-sized square and illustrated on almost every page with contemporary photographs taken by one of the rescue members, Dr. Call, from start to finish. This is an amazing photographic memorial to this amazing rescue attempt. Nothing like it had ever been attempted before but public outcry at the dire strands these hundreds of whalers were caught up in prompted then President McKinley to form a rescue mission with objectives but no true sense of how these objectives were to be met. That was left up to the handful of men eventually left in charge of the overland rescue mission.

An enthralling story to read about, the whalers were often there own worst problem as the cold, hunger and lethargy left them with low morale and little sense of self-preservation. Sandler has presented the tale by using the rescuers' own words as much as possible. Culled from their own journals which they kept upon this journey. Sandler himself does not have exactly the most favourable voice for telling a story and the segues he's written connecting the contemporary voices can be a bit dry; but fortunately the rescuers do most of the story telling. An extremely harrowing journey and rescue which, in reality, had very little chance at success, yet due to the character and determination of those involved succeeded despite the odds. The publisher recommends for Gr. 5+, personally due to the writing style I would recommend most for Gr. 7+. However, it makes a fine read for history or adventure buffs of all ages interested in the topic.
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July 2018 New Book:

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