Ice Ghosts

Ice Ghosts

The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition

Book - 2017
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The spellbinding story of the greatest cold case in Arctic history--and how the rare mix of marine science and Inuit knowledge finally led to the recent discovery of the shipwrecks.

Spanning nearly 200 years, Ice Ghosts is a fast-paced detective story about Western science, indigenous beliefs, and the irrepressible spirit of exploration and discovery. It weaves together an epic account of the legendary Franklin Expedition of 1845--whose two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror , and their crew of 129 were lost to the Arctic ice--with the modern tale of the scientists, researchers, divers, and local Inuit behind the recent discoveries of the two ships, which made news around the world.
The journalist Paul Watson was on the icebreaker that led the expedition that discovered the HMS Erebus in 2014, and he broke the news of the discovery of the HMS Terror in 2016. In a masterful work of history and contemporary reporting, he tells the full story of the Franklin Expedition: Sir John Franklin and his crew setting off from England in search of the fabled Northwest Passa≥ the hazards they encountered and the reasons they were forced to abandon ship after getting stuck in the ice hundreds of miles from the nearest outpost of Western civilization; and the dozens of search expeditions over more than 160 years, which collectively have been called "the most extensive, expensive, perverse, and ill-starred . . . manhunt in history."
All that searching turned up a legendary trail of sailors' relics, a fabled note, a lifeboat with skeletons lying next to loaded rifles, and rumors of cannibalism . . . but no sign of the ships until, finally, the discoveries in our own time. As Watson reveals, the epic hunt for the lost Franklin Expedition found success only when searchers combined the latest marine science with faith in Inuit lore that had been passed down orally for generations.
Ice Ghosts is narrative nonfiction of the highest order, full of drama and rich in characters: Lady Jane Franklin, who almost single-handedly kept the search alive for decades; an Inuit historian who worked for decades gathering elders' accounts; an American software billionaire who launched his own hunt; and underwater archaeologists honing their skills to help find the ships. Watson also shows how the hunt for the Franklin Expedition was connected to such technological advances as scuba gear and sonar technology, and how it ignited debates over how to preserve the relics discovered with the ships.
A modern adventure story that arcs back through history, Ice Ghosts tells the complete and incredible story of the Franklin Expedition--the greatest of Arctic mysteries--for the ages.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, [2017]
ISBN: 9780771096525
Branch Call Number: 919.804 Frank-W
Characteristics: xxxii, 384 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

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uppitywomanstill
Aug 04, 2017

While this is a fascinating story of the missing and doomed Franklin expedition, I was quite struck by the overt racism against the Inook. They had the answers as to location of at least one ship, but they were dismissed as barbaric by the next few rescue missions. There were one or two explorers who took them somewhat seriously and followed their stories and discovered there oral stories were true. It also highlights Canada's treatment of the Inook by forcing them to change their way of life and locations. Education and normal clothing, rather than animal fur and the schooling of nature survival. I found that a sad part of the book, but a vital part.

l
lunadog
May 12, 2017

Interesting and written in a journalistic style. The maps, however, were inadequate.

Thoroughly fascinating and wonderfully written. Watson recounts over 160 years of history of one of the great maritime mysteries in fabulous detail. No punches are pulled and no sugar coating is given. This story is as visceral as it is kinetic and is a testament to human ego, vulnerability, sacrifice and, ultimately, perseverance and humility. My only caveats are that while Watson covers a few of the ancient expeditions, he doesn't cover them all. I wanted to know more. Also, given all its detail, I expected more maps, photos, and complete manifests of crew and cargo for each ship.

s
stephaniedchase
Apr 30, 2017

The Franklin Expedition continues to be a story that fascinates, particularly through the many unsuccessful follow-up expeditions that sought to find answers to what happened to Franklin and his men. Watson's ICE GHOSTS tries to highlight those expeditions, as well as the long oral tradition of the Inuit and the Franklin shipwrecks.

Unfortunately, ICE GHOSTS suffers from trying to cram too much in. Nearly 200 pages of description of the Franklin Expedition itself still leaves many questions unanswered; the 150 years of expeditions that followed get short shrift. I wished for more maps, more photos, more description of the men who kept coming to search. So many of the people are fascinating that we the reader wish for more time spent.

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