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Sixty years after his experiences on the Karluk the writer reflects back to those times when, as a twenty four year old Glasgow school teacher he was offered the opportunity to take part in an Artic adventure.
William Laird McKinlay writes his story in a very easy style as he takes the reader through the days and months spent stranded in the icy wastes.
Through his first person narrative the reality of the struggle for survival is brought to life. We see the group deal with the effects of illness, malnutrition, loss and death of members of the expedition. All social responsibility is stripped away, men steal food and clothing from one another even though their survival would seem to depend on their working together. But through it all the courage of some of these men is astounding, as they battle their way through hundreds of miles of snow and ice in order to effect a rescue.
William Laird McKinlay wrote his story in an effort to record what really happened on the Karluk. He particularly wanted to bring to light the courage of Captain Barlett and the dessertion of the ship by the expedition organisor Stefansson. Although he does praise Stefansson for some of his achievements, there is nonetheless an underlying bitterness towards this man who, not only left them stranded but also gained praise and honours for his artic exploration. Eleven of the men of the Karluk were lost, but when presented with his Hubbard Medal by the National Geographic Society Stefansson made no mention of either them or the Karluk.Indeed in his own book "The Friendly Artic" he gives an inaccurate account of the events on the Karluk.
William Laird McKinlay wanted to set the record straight, and after meticulous research of records and journals of the time he has come up with a very readable account which tells the story of the Karluk through the eyes of one who was actually there.
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