By the mid-19th century, after decades of polar exploration, the fabled Northwest Passage seemed within reach. In 1845 the British Admiralty assembled the largest expedition yet, refitting two ships with steam engines and placing the seasoned if somewhat lackluster Sir John Franklin in command of the 128-man expedition. After sailing into Baffin Bay, they were never heard from again.
Drawing on early accounts from relief expeditions as well as recent archeological evidence, Scott Cookman reconstructs a chronicle of the expedition in Ice Blink. Cookman, a journalist with articles in Field & Stream and other magazines, excels when firmly grounded in the harrowing reality of 19th-century Arctic exploration. When he speculates about what happened to the Franklin expedition, however, he is on less solid ground and his writing suffers.
Particularly overwrought is the promised "frightening new explanation" for the expedition's demise. Cookman suggests that it was caused by the "grotesque handiwork" of an "evil" man, Stephan Goldner, who had supplied its canned foods. This is hardly new. As early as 1852, investigators determined that the expedition's canned goods were probably inferior and canceled provisioning contracts with Goldner. How a hundred men survived for nearly three years despite lead poisoning and botulism remains a mystery. In the end, as Cookman himself acknowledges, the expedition was ultimately doomed by its reliance on untested technology such as the steam engine, armor plating, and canned provisions. These criticisms aside, Ice Blink is an interesting narrative of this enduring symbol of polar exploration and disaster. --Pete Holloran --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In 1845, Captain Sir John Franklin sailed into Arctic waters, the latest of many navigators to seek a "Northwest Passage" from the Atlantic to the Pacific. With him were 128 stalwarts of the Royal Navy; up-to-date maps and sophisticated tools; three years' worth of ample provisions; and two advanced ships, iron-clad, steam-heated and steam-powered. The ships were never seen again. In 1859, Lieutenant William Hobson, sunburnt and frostbitten, trekked across remote King William Island and found the last remains of the expedition: two notes attached to a cairn, a small, stranded boat and human bones, some showing evidence of cannibalism. Freelance writer Cookman's ably researched, sometimes eloquent account follows the doomed voyage, then proposes to solve the enduring mystery. Stuck in the ice, the men of the H.M.S. Terror and Erebus lasted months with barely a look outdoors; when cooking fuel ran short, something sickened the men. Cookman identifies the culprit as botulism, conveyed by the canned goods furnished by contractor Stephan Goldner. "Pinching pennies and cutting corners," Goldner defrauded the Navy by giving Franklin's men canned meats and vegetables "shoddily made and improperly sealed." Cookman drapes his central story with short accounts of the people involved, including Captain Franklin ("plodding, sober," and "fame-hungry" but steadfast) and Goldner, whose record of defaults and frauds (delivering ruptured cans, missing deadlines, packaging bones as meat) led the Navy to cease doing business with him in 1852. Hard-bitten readers who last year clamored over Shackleton's adventures will take to this grimmer tale of unscrupulous contractors, diligent historians and brave British explorers who never made it. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book on the Franklin expedition is the first, of all that I have read about Franklin , that answers my question: "What about the food preparation itself , before the food... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Ivan Serov
While Scott Cookman's book is a compelling read, with some powerfully written and vividly illustrated passages, it must be taken with a bucket of salt. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Shannon Leigh O'Neil
This book was an excelkent, well-researched account of this story. I enjoyed Cookmans insight into the experiences of those involved and his unique take on the leaders, as well as... Read morePublished on July 28, 2013 by Caitlin
I love to read historical books about explorations. So ordered Ice Blink and I was quite pleasently surprised about the masterful writing of the Author Scott Cookman. Read morePublished on February 27, 2013 by Terry Bardy
I've always been intrigued by Franklin's tragic tale. This is one of the most detailed accounts I've read. It is also meticulously documented.Published on February 7, 2013 by njcboehm
I don't know whether it is the overall hubris of exploration that is the lasting impression from this book or the factual details of how bad "canning" sabotaged this... Read morePublished on December 3, 2012 by Betty Duck
Firstly if this is the only book on Franklin you have read its quite a good read if your looking for a read based on scietific facts try "Frozen in Time", they both share the same... Read morePublished on September 18, 2012 by David Roberts
This review was skeptical at the start of reading "Ice Blink" since the author, Scott Cookman, admits to being introduced to the story of the Franklin Expedition in 1988 after... Read morePublished on June 7, 2012 by mwreview