Ice Ghosts

Ice Ghosts

The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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Ice Ghosts weaves together the epic story of the Lost Franklin Expedition of 1845--whose two ships and crew of 129 were lost to the Arctic ice--with the tale of the incredible discovery of the flagship's wreck in 2014. Paul Watson, who was on the icebreaker that led the discovery expedition, tells a fast-paced historical adventure story: Sir John Franklin and the crew of the HMS Erebus and Terror setting off in search of the fabled Northwest Passage, the hazards they encountered and the reasons they were forced to abandon ship hundreds of miles from the nearest outpost of civilization, and the decades of searching that exposed rumours of cannibalism and a few scattered papers and bones--until a combination of Inuit lore and the latest science yielded a discovery for the ages.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780393249385
Characteristics: xxxii, 384 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm


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Jan 10, 2021

If you are going to have maps you should use them to show where ALL the places are in the area covered by the maps, that are also mentioned in the story. Given the conditions it would have been interesting to know exactly where the various travellers went; both the initial expedition and the searchers. Especially in this story where it wouldn't take much to miss an important area.

Aug 15, 2019

Great read...along with reference maps which unfortunately were not sufficient to help tell the stories. Pulitzer Prize winning author and Arctic scholar reviews the frequently told stories of the Expedition (set sail in 1845 in search of the North-West Passage, and abandoned after becoming locked in sea ice in 1848)--and 160 years of fruitless searches to find the ships, and the bodies of the men who died in the brutal Arctic conditions.
But Watson also intertwines the neglected aspect of the Inuit indigenous peoples who played a part in the eventual location of bodies and ships. The stranded British seamen had made contact with many Inuit as they tried to survive...and the lore of the “white men on great boats” was passed on over the years by Inuit elders—but sadly, was mostly dismissed by most white people leading the searches. The Inuit knew fairly precisely where the boats were...and were ignored! Even in 1967, when the Canadian military put together a “Centennial” project to find the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, the bozos in charge brushed off suggestions of engaging with the Inuit.
The two ships were finally located in 2014 and 2016 using a combination of modern technology, Inuit assistance, and some dumb luck.

Jul 20, 2019

ST 3/19/7 H4 How the remains were found & why it wasn't sooner. By award-winning journalist/one of the finders.

*NEXT* FOR LATER ITEM: Magazine art. re: constitutional powers of president
Author: Garrett Epps
Title: "The Founder's Great Mistake"
Publisher: The Atlantic
Date: January/February 2009
Pages: 68-71

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.

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.

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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