In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely and his crew of 24 scientists and explorers were bound for the last region unmarked on global maps. Their goal: Farthest North. What would follow was one of the most extraordinary and terrible voyages ever made.
... an engaging, superbly written, and meticulously researched chronicle of the Greely expedition that proves it is one of the most engaging adventure narratives ever ... an outstanding true story of heroism, discovery, bravery, and survival ... Levy masterfully retells their story using letters, journals, other books, and telegrams. With cinematic prose, great economy of language, and vivid descriptions, Levy places readers in the middle of the action and makes them see the snow, feel the hunger and the tension, and hear the cracking of the ice ... More than a nonfiction book about an expedition, Labyrinth of Ice reads like an outstanding script for an action movie. Levy's voice, knack for pacing, and the way he integrates the writing done by the men who were there add up to a narrative that is as gripping and full of danger as it is exciting and poetic ... While Levy's prose is great and readers will easily envision animal attacks, arguments, and the sound of cracking ice, the photographs, taken by Sergeant George Rice, add a visual element that backs up every part of the narrative ... a riveting, engaging read packed with superhuman feats, incredible journeys, amazing discoveries, tension, heartbreak, and constant danger. It is also a true tale — and that makes it a book that demands to be read.
Levy immersed himself in Greely’s diary and those of other surviving members of the crew along with media coverage, published reports, and, it seems, every single scrap of paper about the tragedy he could find. The result is an armchair explorer’s dream—all the drama, all the fear, all the steadfastness that fans of the genre could want. Unexpectedly, Levy manages also to carve out important space in the narrative for Greely’s wife, Henrietta, who was key to the rescue. An invaluable addition to polar history.
... rivetingly recounted ... [Levy] digs deep not only into the archival sources but also the psyche of men exposed to the worst privations imaginable ... Amply illustrated with maps and photos showing the routes of the initial expedition, the retreat, and the various rescue ships sent (unsuccessfully) to rescue and/or provide provisions, Levy takes us on a long journey ... Levy’s narrative of the arduous trials that follow vividly transports the reader to the farthest reaches of the inhabitable earth, as we observe the horrors the Greely Expedition in detail: the inconceivable cold, starvation, near mutiny, and the dimming hopes of rescue as the ice packs groan and explode around them. Amid the steady mental and physical deterioration of the group, Levy paints with pathos a picture of the expedition’s members, from commander to the lowliest private. In these portraits-in-miniature, their character and personalities reveal both the best and worst of humans in crisis: heroism, grit, selflessness, but also dishonesty, disobedience, and callous self-regard ... It is a tale as old as time, but never gets old in the telling—and Levy does it superbly. Labyrinth of Ice takes the reader to the forbidding Farthest North in the best way possible as we avidly turn the pages, sipping hot tea from a cozy, warm chair.