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Ghosts of Cape Sabine: The Harrowing True Story of the Greely Expedition (2000)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0399145893, Hardcover)In May 1884, huddled in a tent on the northwest coast of Greenland, Private Roderick R. Schneider looked around at his companions and wrote in his journal: "It is horrible to see eighteen men dying by inches." One month later, Schneider was dead, a victim of starvation. Schneider was one of 24 men sent to establish a scientific base in Lady Franklin Bay in 1881. A combination of poor planning, bad weather, weak leadership, and a lack of support from the government that had sent them north caused all but six men to perish. Historian Leonard F. Guttridge tells the story of the ill-fated Greely expedition in Ghosts of Cape Sabine.
The expedition got off to a rocky start, underprovisioned and manned with soldiers who had never been to the Arctic. Still, once established at Lady Franklin Bay, the team performed its scientific studies and even made a foray north, breaking the British record. Personality conflicts between Lieutenant Adolphus Greely and several of his men were intensified by the fact that the ships supposed to resupply and, after two years, relieve them, never came. Dangerously low on food and supplies, the party was forced to attempt to retreat on its own. After weeks of travel, much of it spent drifting on the ice pack in Kane Basin, the party arrived at Cape Sabine and made camp. As the weeks passed and the food ran out, the men subsisted on leather from their boots, miniscule shrimp, bits of moss scraped from the rocks, and--as the days grew longer and the party grew smaller--the bodies of their fallen comrades. "In the wan light of an unsetting sun during those early Arctic summer weeks, one or more of the desperate men at Cape Sabine had been up on the ridge of the dead, busy with scalpel or hunting knife."
Guttridge utilized journals, reports, and personal correspondence to create an almost day-to-day account of the expedition, and he excels at bringing to life those desperate months waiting for rescue ships that came too late for most of the Greely expedition. Juicy details and a mastery of the subject make Ghosts of Cape Sabine read like a suspenseful novel. --Sunny Delaney
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:55 -0400)
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