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FEATURED BOOK for January, 2001
IN THE LAND OF THE WHITE DEATH
An Epic Story of Survival in the Russian Arctic
 
by Valerian Albanov
 
Introduction by Jon Krakauer
 
205 pages
 
Published by Modern Library
 
ISBN: 0679641009  October 2000
 
Hardcover (7.73 x 4.79)
 
List price: US$21.95
From the publisher . . . "In 1912, six months after Robert Falcon Scott and four of his men came to grief in Antarctica, a thirty-two-year-old Russian navigator named Valerian Albanov embarked on an expedition that would prove even more disastrous. In search of new Arctic hunting grounds, Albanov's ship, the Saint Anna, was frozen fast in the pack ice of the treacherous Kara Sea-a misfortune grievously compounded by an incompetent commander, the absence of crucial nautical charts, insufficient fuel, and inadequate provisions that left the crew weak and debilitated by scurvy.
 
For nearly a year and a half, the twenty-five men and one woman aboard the Saint Anna endured terrible hardships and danger as the icebound ship drifted helplessly north. Convinced that the Saint Anna would never free herself from the ice, Albanov and thirteen crewmen left the ship in January 1914, hauling makeshift sledges and kayaks behind them across the frozen sea, hoping to reach the distant coast of Franz Josef Land. With only a shockingly inaccurate map to guide him, Albanov led his men on a 235-mile journey of continuous peril, enduring blizzards, disintegrating ice floes, attacks by polar bears and walrus, starvation, sickness, snowblindness, and mutiny. That any of the team survived is a wonder. That Albanov kept a diary of his ninety-day ordeal-a story that Jon Krakauer calls an "astounding, utterly compelling book," and David Roberts calls "as lean and taut as a good thriller"-is nearly miraculous.
 
First published in Russia in 1917, Albanov's narrative is here translated into English for the first time. Haunting, suspenseful, and told with gripping detail, In the Land of White Death can now rightfully take its place among the classic writings of Nansen, Scott, Cherry-Garrard, and Shackleton."
 
About the author . . . Valerian Albanov was born in 1881 in Voronezh, Russia, and graduated in 1904 from the Naval College of St. Petersburg. Despite his harrowing voyage aboard the Saint Anna, he continued going to sea until his death in 1919.
 
For additional reviews and ordering information, click on the cover image.
THE RUSSIAN ARCTIC
The Santa Anna became trapped in the ice in the Kara Sea enroute to Vladivostok and drifted northward for a year and a half. In the Land of the White Death--a chilling title for a chilling tale--was written by one of only two survivors of the disaster. The two men eventually made their way to Cape Flora in Franz Josef Land and ultimately were rescued--but not until after some harrowing experiences. No other survivors were ever found.
The book has an interesting history: originally published in Russian, it was translated into French in 1928 and apparently forgotten. It was re-discovered in a library recently, translated into English and published as part of the Modern Library Adventure series.
Map: Copyright 2000 PolarFlight Research Forum
For additional north polar regions maps, click here.
Two additional reviews:
From the BOSTON GLOBE
From the CHICAGO TRIBUNE
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For more information, click on the cover image.
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