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Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition Paperback – September 23, 2004
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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I guess the authors had a distinct advantage by choosing to excavate members of the Franklin expedition. I don't think there are many things that people today are morbidly curious about than cannibalism, and because it was proven to have taken place again and again on this Arctic expedition, reading about the deaths of members of the crew would be captivating regardless of what aspect(s) they were analyzing.
In this book, the major focus was what killed everyone so quickly, and I think the only issue I had with this book is that in the beginning they kind of hinted at lead poisoning, then focused on scurvy for awhile, then went back to lead poisoning, then, FINALLY, in the last chapter or two, analyzed the cans found concluded that lead was the most probably cause, and that contrary to previous belief, it was nearly impossible to die from scurvy that fast when they had limes on board. Despite the occasional digressions, the way the anthropolgists describe the bodies (especially that of John Torrington) is incredibly sincere. Many books published these days are boring, emotionless scientific accounts, with very little feeling mixed in. These scientists were completely consumed with what they were doing. They couldn't get over the sadness and loneliness involved with dying alone in the high Arctic. The fact that these sailors were beyond help, that Torrington was so young (20, I think) inspired extreme amounts of emotion. Just to be working with a 150 year old corpse of a person that died in such loneliness haunted all of the scientists throughout the book.
I guess there's nothing more to say, other than the fact that Frozen in Time is the best scientific account of an Arctic expedition I have ever read, not only because of the sheer morbidity of cannibalism, but because the scientists who wrote it were so sympathetic and filled with emotion.
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Easy to read and follow.
What these men endured must have been a total nightmare.