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Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition Paperback – September 23, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed the read although it is not a cheerful story. Worth reading if you like tales of arctic explanation... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mr. P. M. Giblin
This is a gruesome tale, and well-written. It brings new light to a great mystery of polar exploration, and I recommend it for anyone interested in that history.Published 12 months ago by Judith A. Collins
this is an excellent read. part of the book deals with the franklin expedition directly, and the other half with the modern-day (1980's) investigation into it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by rickk
Very well done; it's hard to imagine all of the hardships these explorers endured.Published 14 months ago by Downeast forester
A haunting investigation in to the fate of select polar expeditions. The investigation into the Lord Franklin expedition is riveting and thorough. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Orbeaguy