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In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of…

In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian…

by Valerian Albanov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
In 1912, the Saint Anna, a Russian exploration vessel sailed from what is now Murmansk with the goal of navigating the Northeast Passage. If it had succeeded it would have been only the second time this was achieved. The became trapped in polar ice and drifted north. After being icebound for two winters and having abandoned all hope of rescue, Albanov - the navigator of the vessel - built kayaks and sledges and set off with 13 men towards Franz Joseph Land, while 20 remained behind, never to be seen again.

In his book based on his diary published in 1917, Albanov recounts the journey back to civilization. His is a well written and eminently readable story of a harrowing journey taking three month to a shelter left behind from previous expeditions where the two surviving men were eventually picked up by a barely seaworthy vessel returning to civilization after two years. The focus of the narrative is on the journey itself. Of the men and their characters and interaction, there is very little information, save for some ranting about their shortcomings.

In their introduction, Jon Krakauer and David Roberts give a bit of background to the expedition and put it into context with other such undertakings. In the epilogue they reveal some of the content of the diary of the other surviving man, that give a bit more perspective on what happened. That diary was never published - Konrad being a commoner. They also introduce a bit of research into the background and aftermath of the expedition.

All in all a very nice read, but not as gripping as Lansing's Endurance, mostly due to the lack of visibility of the individuals along for the travel.
( )
  sushicat | Jan 14, 2016 |
Most readers of polar exploration are familiar with accounts of ill-fated explorers such as Scott and Shackleton. The diary of Russian explorer Valerian Albanov was only recently discovered in a French translation buried in a library, translated into English and published in 2000. It tells of an incredible journey of survival as he and some of his crew set out from his ice-locked ship in hopes of finding aid.

This, then, is an autobiography in the form of a diary or journal written by Albanov. Whereas other expeditions have been written in absentia, decades after the fact, this account is important because Albanov himself describes his incredible journey. The writing/translation is well written, and each day holds danger, despair, hope and challenge. It is difficult to put this book down. ( )
  mldavis2 | Jan 30, 2015 |
Story of an arduous trek in the Arctic, from the trek leader's journals. Similar hardships to Shackleton's as told in "Endurance," but not told in such a gripping style. I'm a survival-story junkie so I slogged through the whole thing. Not sure the casual reader would put up with it. ( )
  pdepena | Aug 10, 2011 |
"In the Land of White Death" is Valerian Albanov's stunning account of a ninety day journey across the barren wastes of the North Pole with his companions as they attempted to save themselves from an icy death. They man-hauled sledges and kayaks across the ice after their whaling boat was trapped in the pack ice for more than a year. The account is well-written and really interesting.... it stands up to the more well-known polar expedition stories. As I was reading, I really wished for a second account to shed some light on Albanov himself -- who seemed brusk and difficult-- and seemed to find ways to make his travels easier while disparaging the men who had to take the harder route as slow and lazy. So, I particularly appreciated David Robert's afterward, which focuses on the other survivor's journal to flesh out some of the details. ( )
2 vote amerynth | Jul 14, 2011 |
As exciting as Shackelton's journey. A gripping story well described ( )
  sylw | Sep 12, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Valerian Albanovprimary authorall editionscalculated
Krakauer, JonPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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How many weeks and months have gone by since the day I left the Saint Anna and bade farewell to Lieutenant Brusilov! Little did I know that our separation was to be forever.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Authored by Valerian Albanov - only the preface written by John Krakauer
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067978361X, Paperback)

In the early 20th-century era of daring polar exploration, the less-trumpeted fishing and hunting expeditions went largely unrecorded. Except, that is, for a recently discovered tale about a Russian hunter and his shipmate. Valerian Albanov's account of his 18-month-long survival in the Siberian Arctic remained unknown until a group of polar-literature enthusiasts rediscovered it in 1997. Translated into English for the first time, In the Land of White Death competes with the adventures of famed heroes Robert Falcon Scott, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, and Ernest Shackleton. And like Scott's and Cherry-Garrard's narratives, Albanov's tale is penned from a diary he kept during his remarkable ordeal.

Albanov's epic begins in 1914, after he leaves the Saint Anna, a sailing vessel bound for Vladivostok and new hunting territory, 7,000 miles across dangerous water. Only a few months into the voyage, the ship is trapped in pack ice, where it drifts helplessly with the Kara Sea ice flow for nearly one and a half years. With supplies dwindling and no hope of rescue, Albanov, the ship's navigator, and 13 of his colleagues leave the boat and the remaining crew to look for land. Outfitted with sleds and kayaks built from scavenged fragments of the Saint Anna, Albanov begins his 18-month trek to Franz Josef Land with a broken chronometer, scant supplies, and a team of inexperienced men.

Facing starvation, subzero temperatures, and the loss of most of his team, Albanov persists, searching for an outpost rumored to be at Cape Flora, 120 miles from his original starting point. He and his last surviving shipmate survive a litany of amazing mishaps: asleep on an ice flow, they are dumped into frozen water while bound in a sleeping bag; scurvy nearly kills Albanov only a few miles from his destination; and once help arrives, they're caught in the first skirmishes of World War I, a conflict of which they had no knowledge.

Albanov's experience is a brief, gripping account of a story that rivals the greatest survival tales in history. The diary style of his tale preserves its emotional authenticity as he trudges his way across the frozen Arctic, and his knack for clear detail only highlights the unbelievable fact that Albanov was lucid enough to write at all during his winter march across a deadly landscape. --Lolly Merrell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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