The book description offered by the publisher is really quite an accurate account of this book. I've read numerous books on Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton and Mawson, but the hero of this story is really better than most of these! Amundsen was such a good explorer that he made it seem too easy, and consequently has never got the credit really due him. Scott, Shackleton and Mawson have had the exact opposite treatment, told by themselves or in various biographies, recounting in graphic detail all they went through (and more...), while Albanov, whose experience certainly equalled, or indeed outdid those of all three, is virtually (completely?) unknown. The added advantage of this book is that it is essentially the travel diary he kept as he struggled to save himself and the men who of their own volition decided to go with him. As in other books on Heroic Age exploration in the Artic and Antarctica, you can't help but take note of the incompetence, not to say worse, that usually underlay all these undertakings. Albanov's captain (he was the navigator) and practically the whole crew were hopelessly muddled, incompetent or useless, Albanov being one of the few on board with any sense of what was going on. It is significant that out of the whole ship's company that sailed form St. Petersburg in Russia in August, 1912, only Albanov returned, dragging one other survivor with him, and after an heroic struggle of almost unbelievable difficulty and suffering. Albanov was a real hero and deserves the wider audience he never got in his short lifetime.
Such as Scott & Shackleton. Poignant too as he died couple of yrs later In a very matter of fact way inn same neck of the woods having never received the plaudits afforded other ice explorers (alive or dead). A very good read only spoilt by reading the cover notes, which make it a matter of when not if - get it and see why?
In the land of white death chronicles the escape of Valerian Albanov from his icebound ship (the saint anna) his trek across the frozen wastes of siberia, recreated from his journal his writing style translates very well into english with none of the mood or struggle lost. Set around the time of Shackleton the similaraties are unmistakable (although shackleton had an altogeter happier ending), a must read for any adventure fan, at the end of the day if Albanov had been British he would have been up there with with Sott Shacklton and co, as one of the great polar journeys ever told.