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Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition Paperback – September 23, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'A remarkable piece of forensic deduction' Margaret Atwood 'Simply compelling' Mordecai Richler 'A cautionary tale of scholarly merit' William S. Borroughs 'Galvanizing ... in one stroke it elicited a new flurry of Franklin mania in documentary film, childrens' books, adult non-fiction, fiction, painting, and newspaper accounts around the world' Sherrill E. Grace, author of Canada and the Idea of the North --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Owen Beattie is a professor of anthropology at the University of Alberta. He was born in Victoria, BC, and received his PhD from Simon Fraser University. He has contributed to many forensic investigations in Canada, as well as to human rights and humanitarian projects in Rwanda, Somalia, and Cyprus. He lives in Edmonton with his two daughters and his granddaughter. John Grigsby Geiger is St. Clair Balfour Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. He was born in Ithaca, New York, and graduated in history from the University of Alberta. His books have been translated into eight languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Greystone Books; 3rd edition (September 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1553650603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1553650607
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,297,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While not perhaps a "must-have" for aficionados of the field of polar literature, this is nevertheless a very good book and is well suited as a sort of primer to those who have only a casual interest in the subject.
The book provides a brief outline of disappearance the Franklin Expedition on its quest for the Northwest Passage in the early 1800s and the aftermath of the search conducted by various international parties, government and otherwise. It then relates the events of three research expeditions undertaken by the author, a forensic anthropologist who was interested in finding and reviewing various skeletal remains originally discovered decades after the loss of the Franklin party.
Eventually, he concentrates his efforts on exhuming the frozen bodies of three crewmen who had died in the Franklin Expedition's first icebound season, before they had well and truly plunged irrevocably into tragedy. These men had been buried in well-prepared graves on a small island north of Canada's Hudson Bay. Even to this day, the bodies remain fantastically preserved, and the author was able to uncover intriguing evidence that suggests that the expedition did not succumb in a heroic struggle against the large and grand forces of nature, but rather fell to altogether more pedestrian and minute agents.
The exhumation and autopsy processes are well described, and the theory that later develops is explained simply enough for the layman to follow.
Perhaps the biggest strength of this book is the beautifully composed color photos that show the gravesites and the actual bodies. These pictures are truly stirring and invocative.
The maps are also nicely done.
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Format: Paperback
This book provides an in-depth look into what really happened to the Franklin expedition when it left England in 1845 with 2 ships: the Erebus and the Terror. Led by Sir John Franklin, 129 men set sail in search for the Northwest Passage in the labyrinth of the Canada's arctic archipelago, the expedition boasted the most technologically advanced ship at that time with thousands of provisions that was to last for three years. After four years with no word from the expedition, the Royal Navy and the public decided to launch several search and rescue expeditions to locate the lost expedition. For several years, the rescue expeditions yielded only bits and pieces of the expedition's final days. One of the most significant finds in these rescue expeditions were 3 well-preserved corpses (due to the cold temperatures) of the Franklin expedition buried in one of the small rock islands dotting arctic Canada. Thus begin's the books forensic investigation as to what happened to the Franklin expedition. Beattie and his team exhumes the 3 corpses and conducts extensive autopsies of the remains. The book will make the reader feel as if he/she is part of the team. It never leaves the reader out of touch but rather it brings the reader into the experiences which the researchers felt as they moved closer to the truth. Great reading! One of the best true adventure books I have ever read. Pick it up!
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Format: Paperback
The first time I heard about the Franklin expedition on Dr. Bob Brier's television documentary on mummies, I knew I had to learn more. Of course, the main cause of my fascination was the perfectly preserved bodies of the three sailors buried in 1846 on Beechy Island in the Canadian Arctic. The expedition set off in 1845 thoroughly equipped to find the elusive Northwest Passage. None of the 129 crewmen as well as Captain John Franklin survived. Years later expeditions were sent out to find out what happened to Franklin and his men. One search team in the 1850s led by M`Clintock, who was funded by Franklin's widow, discovered the only written record of the Franklin Expedition which gave a clue as to their progress and fate and a small boat with an odd array of articles and skeletons on King William Island. Headstones of three crewmen who died early in the expedition were also found on Beechy Island. The only conclusion that was made was that the men died of scurvy and starvation. In 1981, a team led by physical anthropologist Owen Beattie continued the investigation into the lost Franklin Expedition.

The reason this event was such a famous mystery was because Franklin's crew was so well prepared. Their two ships (HMS Terror and the HMS Erebus) were lavishly outfitted with survival equipment and supplies. Among their stock was a huge supply of canned foods (canning of foods being a recent practice at the time). Franklin once bragged that his provisions could stretch for 7 years (p. 18). In fact, empty tins littered the areas Franklin's crew camped. These artifacts proved clues to Beattie as to the fate of the Franklin expedition.
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Format: Paperback
Having had the luxury of actually communicating with Dr. Beattie and his team of their work, I can attest that they carried out their project professionally and with dignity. This is in contrast to many who tried or will try to answer the fate of the 129 (this field of research is ripe with many egos fighting for turf over which theory of their demise is correct, and the "glory" of finding that "holy grail" -- either Franklin's grave or his log books).

Dr. Beattie and team approached this project with a quest to forensically answer what may have killed everyone on the basis of toxic levels of lead found in disarticulated remains on King William Island (Kekertak) in a previous 1981 excavation. At the time they had a theory but needed to prove if the KWI specimens were indeed true or a fluke. Having gotten permission from the Canadian government to exhume the bodies (and after taking considerable time to try to locate relatives to gain permission to exhume the only properly interred remains on Beechey Island -- although not mentioned in the book, John Shaw Torrington appears to be last descendent of his line, having no siblings [his mom died in childbirth]), they proceeded to exhume Torrington and partially Hartnell in 1984. In 1986, with a larger and more technical team of experts, they conducted an even more thorough exhumation (showned very well on Nova's "Buried in Ice" documentary) of Hartnell and Braine.

This book offers a brief history of the 1845-48 Sir John Franklin Northwest Passage Expedition, and goes on to detail the 1981 excavations on King William Island, the 1984 and 1986 Beechey Island exhumations, then concludes with the lab results (further proving that the lead exposure was indeed from the cans, not just the environment).
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