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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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on October 16, 2002
'Journal of a Voyage With Bering 1741-1742' is very impressive because it is an as-close-to and an as-smooth-as possible translation of Steller's original journal of his 'epic' journey with Captain-Commander Vitus Bering from the Kamchtaka peninsula to the Aleutians, Alaska, and their intense voyage back through a very hazardous winter (ultimately the vessel was shipwrecked on Bering Island, where the Captain met his untimely fate...). In reading this book you can sense just how ominous that region was for first-time explorers (and still is!), and the fear engendered by such an awesome unknown region is evident in many of the crewmen's comments (and ends...). Steller himself is quite the opposite- very steadfast in the journey, and very focused on his work- what the expedition worked hard for ten years to prepare for- to study the area and peoples and flora and fauna etc. beyond the 60th parallel NE of Russia.
I gave this account 4 stars instead of 5 because the introduction- while very scholarly and interesting- might be too pedantic at times. One buys this book to first and foremost read Steller's account of the voyage - not to read about all the minutae details of the man's various capacities prior to the expedition. Stating he was a masterful botanist, biologist, marine biologist, medic, etc. might have been enough...
The other problem I have with this book is Steller himself, who more often than not holds gripes against his crew and the Captain- and does not restrain himself from making this known in his writing. The problem is, is that often I feel the Captain's wariness is justified, while Steller would rather just go off and study plants and the indigenes, irrespective (oblivious?) of the dangers of the region and the timeframe before the onset of winter. The point is, for anyone who has navigated by ship the Aleutian waters even in our modern era - those waters are some of the most, if not THEE most dangerous waters in the world- and Steller, while at times making good and prudent navigational decisions (which, by the way, were often ignored by Captain Bering), at other times just wanted to go around and collect plants and artifacts when the rest of the crew and the Captain rightly wanted to lift anchor- and often waited just for Steller to return to the ship for this very purpose. Steller just put the entire crew in undue danger on more than one occasion.
Overall, though, this is a fascinating account of the very earliest Aleutians Islands voyage by 'Europeans.' Read and judge for yourself who was making the best calls. Sometimes it was Steller- but at other times, the Captain's prudence was very justified.
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on December 26, 2014
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is a story told by a German scientist who accompanied a Danish explorer, both in the pay of the Czar. They explored some of the Russian far east and the Aleutian Islands. They had a tough time, partly because ships weren't up to the task, partly because they knew little about where they were or where they were going and to a great extent because of scurvy. The writer seems to have figured out how to cure it but most didn't accept it. He saw some interesting animals and gave the only scientific description of a northern manatee, Steller's Sea Cow, which has been extinct for almost 250 years. As a tale of survival after the ship was driven ashore and the crew incapacitated, it is a little interesting. When reading books about exploration, I like to have an idea where the explorers went and this book only gives a few hints. The book does have some interesting notes which help but I found it unsatisfying compared to other journals written in the 1600s and 1700s by other explorers
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on March 27, 2016
I looked for a book on Bering that I could afford. Thanks to Mr. Steller, I found one. Really enjoyed his descriptions of distances by comparing them to distances in US. Siberia is really big. I always knew that but now I really know it. Margo Ewers
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on November 20, 2015
This is a fascinating book detailing how very wrong sea voyages could go without a good captain at the helm.
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on August 6, 2014
Excellent journey about Bering and Steller voyages!!!
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on October 8, 2002
'Journal of a Voyage With Bering 1741-1742' is very impressive because it is an as-close-to and an as-smooth-as possible translation of Steller's original journal of his 'epic' journey with Captian-Commander Bering from the Kamchta peninsula to the Aleutians, Alaska, and their intense voyage back through a hazardous winter (ultimately the vessel was shipwrecked on Bering Island, where the Captain met his untimely fate...). In reading this book you can sense just how ominous that region was for first-time explorers (and still is!), and the fear engendered by such an awesome unknown region is evident in many of the crewmen's comments. Steller himself is quite the opposite- and very focused on his work- what they worked hard for ten years to do- to study the area and peoples and flora and fauna etc. beyond the 60th parallel NE of Russia.
I gave this account 4 stars instead of 5 because the introduction- while very scholarly and interesting- might be too much at times. One buys this book to read Steller's account of the voyage first and foremost- not to read about all the details of the man's various capacities. Stating he was a masterful botanist, biologist, marine biologist, medic, etc. might have been enough...
The other problem I have with this book is Steller himself, who more often than not holds gripes against his crew and the Captain- and does not restrain himself from making this known. The problem is, is that often I feel the Captain's wariness is justified, while Steller would rather just go off and study plants and the indigenes, irrespective (oblivious?) of the dangers of the region and the timeframe before the onset of winter. The point is, for anyone who has navigated by ship the Aleutian waters even in our modern era- is that those waters are some of the most, if noit THEE most dangerous waters in the world- and Steller, while at times making good and prudent navigational decisions (which, by the way, were often ignored by Captain Bering), at other times he just wanted to go around and collect plants and artifacts when the rest of the crew and the Captain rightly wanted to lift anchor- and often waited just for Steller to return to the ship for this very purpose.
Overall, it's a fascinating account of the very earliest Aleutians voyage by 'Europeans.' Read and judge for yourself who was making the best calls. Sometimes it was Steller- but at other times, the Cpatain's prudence was very justified.
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on November 17, 2015
Well written book
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on November 19, 2015
Good
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on February 29, 2012
I have read this book many times and remain convinced that George Stellar was either a homosexual or a closet case. His writing reminds the learned of Robert Byron, persnickety, witty, snarky and obsessive. He was not married, nor are there accounts his being with women. The way he describes the uncouth Russians, the damned Bering, the massive, now extinct Bering sea cow, the hairy Bigfoot creature swimming in the ocean, Alaska, the Natives, the journey, all so detailed, so exciting and perfect.One can see this as a movie, easily.
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