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

4.5 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Chilling...will keep you up nights turning pages."— The Chicago Tribune

"... a richly researched history of the expedition... Reading almost like a whodunit page-turner, Beattie and Geiger capture the thrill of making new scientific discoveries and finding important clues to solve a haunting mystery."— Publishers Weekly
--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 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, Alberta. John Geiger graduated in history from the University of Alberta. His work has been translated into eight languages. A Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, he lives in Toronto. Margaret Atwood is one of the world's preeminent writers — shortlisted five times for the Booker Prize, and winning one as well. She lives in Toronto.
--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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rodney Meek VINE VOICE on June 16, 2001
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
Sir John Franklin is well known in Australia for his enlightened governorship of Van Dieman’s Land and for his and his wife’s adventures in exploring the wilderness areas of the convict colony. His fateful expedition to discover the north-west passage has been less known. This book addresses that shortcoming, with a wealth of detail on the nineteenth century polar explorers – including the many missions to discover the fate of lost explorers. Sir John’s expedition, with two ships (Terror and Erebus) and full complements of crew and the mystery surrounding their disappearance stretched imaginations (and purses) for many years. This book has joined the dots and unravelled the mystery, with the prime culprit for the disaster identified – the shoddy lead solder on the otherwise ample tinned provisions.

The forensic analysis (and state of preservation) of the frozen bodies disinterred from the permafrost of their graveyard on lonely and desolate Beechey Island is fascinating. And the last notes of despair left by the remaining crew under a cairn as they made their unlikely trek toward hopeful rescue at Hudson’s Bay explain so much. The stories of cannibalism and men dropping as they walked were preserved by the Inuit and explain the absence of more remains. It seems that some of the crew may have returned to the icebound ships and disappeared with them as they foundered.

Very well illustrated with maps, nineteenth century lithographs and photos from the more recent scientific and forensic expeditions. The photos of the dead are haunting, while providing a real and immediate connection to the expedition.
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