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Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition Hardcover


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 278 pages
  • Publisher: MJF Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567318630
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567318630
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,075,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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66 of 66 people found the following review helpful By J. Maclaine on 13 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
In 1845 Sir John Franklin and 128 men aboard the vessels Erebus and Terror set sail to navigate a course through the fabled (and unbeknownst to them, utterly useless) North-West Passage. After stopping briefly at Greenland they disappeared literally off the map. The years passed and as concern grew several rescue missions were launched at the urging of Lady Franklin. Gradually macabre details began to filter back. One of the first discoveries was of three gravestones of Franklin crewmen in the permafrost of the tiny Beechey Island, then further south on King William island more relics were unearthed including a note in a cairn detailing Franklin's death in 1847. Gruesome accounts from local Inuit tribes described shambling groups of insane gibbering white men, in some cases resorting to cannibalism in a desperate and futile attempt to survive.
Frozen in Time is a book of two halves. In the first part the authors describe the history of the search for the North West Passage, mention the debilitating effects of polar exploration and also provide an account of the doomed Franklin expedition. The second part of the book is essentially CSI North West Territories. King William island is searched first but reveals only some fragmented skeletons and a few small artefacts. The human remains provide tantalising but inconclusive information. The researchers then decide to exhume the three graves on Beechey Island.
This book has stayed with me ever since I first read it. Few other books have fired up my imagination to the same extent. The descriptions of the exhumations and then the autopsies of the perfectly preserved bodies of John Torrington, John Hartnell and William Braine are absolutely gripping and the resulting conclusions are as horrific as they are fascinating.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dr. D. Fraser on 20 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
Tells the story of the 1845 Franklin expedition in which all 128 men were lost without trace while trying to navigate a course through the North-West Passage. The book tells also of the numerous rescue missions which were launched at the behest of Lady Franklin, which failed to find any trace. Their fate was finally discovered by the great Orcadian explorer Robert Rae, and among his reports was how they had resorted to canibalism. The idea that Victorian gentlemen might behave in such a matter was unnacceptable, and Rae's reputation was rubbished by Charles Dickens among others. And so Rae, who should have been recorded as one of the great innovators of Britich Arctic exploration was sidelined and ignored. It is entirely likely that if his innovations (mostly realisng that "going native" was the best approach) had been widely realised then Britain would have been first to both Poles.

In the first part of "Frozen in Time" the authors document the history of the pursuit of the North West Passage, overview the debilitating effects of arctic exploration and also provide a detailed treatise of the fateful Franklin expedition. The second part of the book covers modern attempts to unravel the fate of franklin. Culminating in the exhumations and autopsies of the perfectly preserved bodies of John Torrington, John Hartnell and William, which finally answers the mystery.

This book is not the most fluent of reads, but is sufficiently well written to ensure that it should appeal both to those who are passionate about arctic history and those with a more passing interest.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 31 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback
The Franklin expedition to discover the Northwest Passage (the Holy Grail of its day) was the best prepared and funded in the history of the British Admiralty and it disappeared, two ships and nearly 200 men, with almost no trace. Frantic efforts were made to find survivors, or at least uncover the truth of the disaster, but it remained a mystery for almost 150 years. The story of what actually happened to Franklin and his crew and how it was eventually brought to light is told here in a way that is afffecting, respectful and completely compelling. The authors cover the history of the original expedition and rescue expeditions and the horrible half-facts and hints of starvation, terror and cannibalism they uncovered and moves through history to the efforts of the modern amateur-detectives who finally solved the mystery and found it to be as awful and ironic as any novelist could have imagined. Not just for those with an interest in arctic exploration or the secrets of the dead, but for anyone with an interest mankind or the past.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Bland on 8 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The people involved in seeking out and attempting to complete the North West Passage have a truly amazing tale to tell. The first part of this book does that extremely well -- covering many of the other expeditions of 1800s to put the Franklin Expedition into context. It is unraveling the fate of this expedition that is the aim of this book.

Against these tales of exceptional daring, fortitude hardship and endurance, the second half of the book seems a bit tame. It covers the expeditions to discover, exhume and conduct post-mortems on the only known human remains from the expedition. The science and conclusions reached are very interesting although (given modern technology)it all went rather smoothly and attemtps to create tension largely fell flat with me.

Net -- full of fascinating insights
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