Book Review – Ice Ghosts

Thanks to Maria for the guest book review!

Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition
by Paul Watson, 2017

In May 1845, Sir John Franklin of Great Britain’s Royal Navy set sail with a crew of 128 men to find the last missing link in the Northwest Passage. It was the best outfitted Arctic exploration mission to date, and Franklin was an experienced Arctic explorer. Despite this, the whole expedition was lost. The mystery of what actually happened to the Franklin expedition has captivated a significant amount of people for over 170 years.

The well-written book takes the reader from pre-1845 up to present day, describing the Arctic voyage, the various known crew members (mostly officers), Lady Jane Franklin’s personal funding of rescue operations (and fighting with the Royal Navy) and her grief and denial of losing her husband, and the multitude of efforts throughout the years to try to find the lost ships and any lost artifacts that could help solve the mystery of what actually happened — the best equipped Arctic voyage should have returned with most of its crew, not disappeared into the vast white north.

The evolution of technology, climate change, and a deep dive into various politics — including Canada’s handling of its Inuit population and how much prejudice affected the search for both any survivors and later the ships — play a major role in the book as well, and give it even richer meaning. The mystery of the Franklin expedition is well worth a read, but tying in all the other parts made this book nearly impossible to put down. It was a fascinating look at aspects of Great Britain, Canada, and later the United States and Russia.

I listened to this book as an audio book (10 discs) and it was exceptionally well read.

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