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Long before Bering or Amundsen, long before Franklin or Shackleton, there was William Barents, in many ways the greatest polar explorer of them all. In this engrossing narrative of the Far North, enriched by her own adventurous sojourns in the Arctic, Andrea Pitzer brings Barents' three harrowing expeditions to vivid life--while giving us fascinating insights into one of h Long before Bering or Amundsen, long before Franklin or Shackleton, there was William Barents, in many ways the greatest polar explorer of them all. In this engrossing narrative of the Far North, enriched by her own adventurous sojourns in the Arctic, Andrea Pitzer brings Barents' three harrowing expeditions to vivid life--while giving us fascinating insights into one of history's most intrepid navigators.


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Long before Bering or Amundsen, long before Franklin or Shackleton, there was William Barents, in many ways the greatest polar explorer of them all. In this engrossing narrative of the Far North, enriched by her own adventurous sojourns in the Arctic, Andrea Pitzer brings Barents' three harrowing expeditions to vivid life--while giving us fascinating insights into one of h Long before Bering or Amundsen, long before Franklin or Shackleton, there was William Barents, in many ways the greatest polar explorer of them all. In this engrossing narrative of the Far North, enriched by her own adventurous sojourns in the Arctic, Andrea Pitzer brings Barents' three harrowing expeditions to vivid life--while giving us fascinating insights into one of history's most intrepid navigators.

30 review for Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    My thanks to Scribner, Andrea Pitzer and Netgalley. I finally quit this book at 50%. This wasn't the authors fault, but the subject's. I really couldn't help thinking about how truly ignorant they were! It was such a very long time ago. And I know that back then the world seemed much smaller. That was my problem. I know better, but still I couldn't get over how stupid they were! For bravery, I would have forgiven them..but, they went into the cold with no winter gear. They tried their best to kidna My thanks to Scribner, Andrea Pitzer and Netgalley. I finally quit this book at 50%. This wasn't the authors fault, but the subject's. I really couldn't help thinking about how truly ignorant they were! It was such a very long time ago. And I know that back then the world seemed much smaller. That was my problem. I know better, but still I couldn't get over how stupid they were! For bravery, I would have forgiven them..but, they went into the cold with no winter gear. They tried their best to kidnap native people. "Heaven forbid you should just talk to them!" They stole, kidnapped and killed everything! They didn't even eat what they killed. Even though they were hungry. They just killed and skinned. Every time one of them was killed by a polar bear or a walrus, I was cheering! Yeah. I usually love arctic exploration. I call myself an armchair explorer! This was a complete and utter shit show. Again, I'm telling you that I didn't hate the author. I hated the story. Those idiots should have stayed home, and left the exploration to other's.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    320 pages 5 stars In 1594, William Barents, a Dutchman, was to undertake the first of his three voyages North to search for a passage to China. The Dutch hoped to establish trade with the Chinese and looked for a shorter route than was currently available. The first and second voyages, while essentially failing to find a route, were relatively short when compared to later Arctic expeditions. However, during the third voyage a dispute broke out among the two captains and they split. Barents continu 320 pages 5 stars In 1594, William Barents, a Dutchman, was to undertake the first of his three voyages North to search for a passage to China. The Dutch hoped to establish trade with the Chinese and looked for a shorter route than was currently available. The first and second voyages, while essentially failing to find a route, were relatively short when compared to later Arctic expeditions. However, during the third voyage a dispute broke out among the two captains and they split. Barents continued North, while Riip went his own way. Each was still looking for a shorter northern route to China. But Barents and his men were to run into trouble and they were forced to winter over when their ship became trapped in the ice. Things did not go well. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. This is the story of the sheer determination and will to survive that these men possessed. I marvelled at their tenacity and refusal to give in to despair. The times were very difficult and depressing. While I enjoy reading stories about Arctic and Antarctic explorations, I do so from the comfort and warmth of my chair. I cannot even begin to entertain the idea of joining such an expedition myself. (Nebraska winters are harsh enough, thank you.) This book is very well researched and footnoted. There is an extensive bibliography for those who wish to further explore Barents' adventures and other Arctic expeditions. The book is well written. I really appreciate it when the author of such a work makes history interesting. It is not dry reading and Ms. Pitzer makes it enjoyable to read this work. I want to thank NetGalley and Scribner for forwarding to me a copy of this most accessible and remarkable book for me to read, enjoy and review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    ARC received through Netgalley This is an interesting story that I was unfamiliar with. Sadly failed Dutch expeditions of the 1500s just don't seem to make it into school curriculum. The book was very informative and it's a good story. However, Pitzer's writing style drove me nuts. She meanders into tangents so frequently and I found myself growing impatient. It felt like she did a lot of research, but wasn't willing to cut out the extraneous information. As an example, multiple pages discussing ARC received through Netgalley This is an interesting story that I was unfamiliar with. Sadly failed Dutch expeditions of the 1500s just don't seem to make it into school curriculum. The book was very informative and it's a good story. However, Pitzer's writing style drove me nuts. She meanders into tangents so frequently and I found myself growing impatient. It felt like she did a lot of research, but wasn't willing to cut out the extraneous information. As an example, multiple pages discussing the diverse makeshift shelters left behind by other explorers just isn't really within the scope of this book. You know what would have been in the scope of this book? A discussion of when and how "the Safe House" as our protagonists called their shelter was re-discovered three centuries after they left it. We repeatedly hear in passing that it remained unfound for three centuries but she never really follows up on that information. On a related note, Pitzer needed a better outline. After (view spoiler)[Barents dies (hide spoiler)] on the trip home, Pitzer then spends the rest of the chapter talking about how the legend of the voyage developed and changed over time before then getting back to the story of how the journey ended. Then she spends the latter half of the last chapter talking about the longterm cultural effects of the expedition. It would have worked much better to have gone through the journey in one continuous piece and saved the analysis of the mythos of Barents and his expedition for the last chapter. That's just one example of how the book just doesn't feel like it proceeds in a natural order. Also, many many typos that I can only hope will be fixed before the final publication. This book is getting 3 stars mainly because I did enjoy learning about this historical event but it's not very well written.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Anderberg

    “Though Barents never gained fame in battle and never found a trade route to China, he had planted a seed for a new kind of explorer, one whose fame lay in a combination of knowledge and endurance rather than martial glory.” I’ve read a lot of polar adventure tales, almost always in the throes of winter. Remember last week I mentioned leaning in to the darkness of the season; this is along those same lines. It’s cold and snowy outside, so why not read some epic tales of guys who’ve been much col “Though Barents never gained fame in battle and never found a trade route to China, he had planted a seed for a new kind of explorer, one whose fame lay in a combination of knowledge and endurance rather than martial glory.” I’ve read a lot of polar adventure tales, almost always in the throes of winter. Remember last week I mentioned leaning in to the darkness of the season; this is along those same lines. It’s cold and snowy outside, so why not read some epic tales of guys who’ve been much colder than me and far more miserable? Plus, stories of daring and survival are always fun, and it doesn’t get more daring or tense than the coldest cold you can imagine (and then some). Andrea Pitzer’s Icebound, which tells the story of William Barents’ ur-expedition to the northern reaches of the world, adds to the upper echelon of polar adventure books. Back in the late 1500s, ocean journeys were all about commerce. Finding a quicker route from Europe to East Asia was the goal—a mythical passage over the top of the world. There was even an idea that perhaps the north pole was actually a warm weather ocean. They really just had no idea what was up there. So Barents set out on three expeditions. The first two were successful enough (he got farther north than any human possibly ever had), but no passage was found. On the third trip, Barents and his crew made it even further, but were then hemmed in by ice and forced to “overwinter,” or make camp for the long, cold, sunless season until the ice abated and allowed them to return home. What happened next involved a driftwood hut for 18 men, numerous polar bears, nasty cases of scurvy and hypervitaminosis A (which makes your skin peel off!), and a trek home in what were functionally a couple of large row boats. Pitzer quickly captured not only the bleak brutality of the surroundings and the arctic ocean-going experience, but also, perhaps most interestingly to me, the changing philosophy of the spirit of adventure in that time. Barents was celebrated as a hero, despite his failure to find a passable trade route. His intrepid acts of endurance, leadership, and survival in a harrowing environment were enough. From then on, the ships that set out for the poles were more about sheer exploration than business pursuits. Though Barents isn’t a well-known name like Robert Falcon Scott or Roald Amundsen or Ernest Shackleton, he set the stage for all that came after him: “every famous Arctic explorer who endured horrifying ordeals, every adventurer to the North whose story became a bestselling book, every voyager vowing to fill in the map for national glory, every polar adventurer whose exploits were recorded with the newest technologies—from books to telegrams to photos to radio broadcasts to phones to satellite links—has walked in the path first blazed by William Barents.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ula

    Ever since I stumbled upon an article on “Wired”, in which Andrea Pitzer described her travel to the Far North, I knew I have to read the whole book. Her writing was fresh, clear, and beautiful, so I was hungry for more. The ARC made me joyous and I devoured it as soon as I could. While I expected a travelog with a bit of history, this was something different, but I was not disappointed at all. In the book, Pitzer turned out to be a very humble author - she is an invisible presence until the last Ever since I stumbled upon an article on “Wired”, in which Andrea Pitzer described her travel to the Far North, I knew I have to read the whole book. Her writing was fresh, clear, and beautiful, so I was hungry for more. The ARC made me joyous and I devoured it as soon as I could. While I expected a travelog with a bit of history, this was something different, but I was not disappointed at all. In the book, Pitzer turned out to be a very humble author - she is an invisible presence until the last chapter. But you can feel her wisdom, knowledge, and impressing research in almost every sentence, in all little remarks and comparisons. Instead of writing about herself, she gives full attention to her heroes and the result is compelling. The story itself is fascinating. Though of course, I heard about Barents before, I didn’t really realize till now that he was a true pioneer and that he was centuries ahead of other heroes of polar exploration. I always marvel at the courage and endurance of people from the past who dared to venture into the unknown, without proper equipment nor technology, and managed to survive. And it’s hard to find a better tale of survival that this one. Pitzer managed to show her characters as real people. She doesn’t cut corners, she resists the temptation to fast forward less adventurous events. Thanks to a detailed description of daily struggles, no matter how monotonous and mundane it could be, you feel transported to that world. Her focus is on history and she doesn’t use it as a cheap excuse to preach about contemporary issues, but in a very subtle way, she puts it in a broader context and makes you think. Many thanks to the publisher, Scribner, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Hixson

    Icebound: Shipwrecked at The Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer is a one part quest for a trade route from Europe to China through the north, and is one part survival story of the nature. This nonfiction account of William Barents three journey's to find a passage through the north pole and his last journey where he was trapped for a year with a crew of 15 in no mans land with ice, snow and polar bears. The story is filled with history and personal accounts, through letters making the situation Icebound: Shipwrecked at The Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer is a one part quest for a trade route from Europe to China through the north, and is one part survival story of the nature. This nonfiction account of William Barents three journey's to find a passage through the north pole and his last journey where he was trapped for a year with a crew of 15 in no mans land with ice, snow and polar bears. The story is filled with history and personal accounts, through letters making the situation very real. This book shows just how vicious polar bears can be, and how hard they are to kill. The weather is the constant enemy snow, ice, and rain with extreme cold thrown in for good measure. It's hard to imagine anyone in current time surviving, not to mention people living in the late 1500's. The writing was straight forward with little or no emotion, as reader my imagination took over about the mutiny and dealing with below freezing temperatures. I read Icebound: Shipwrecked at The Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer for free thanks to Netgalley and Scribner it was published on 1-12-21. The Plot: In 1590's the Dutch Republic wanted a quicker trade route to China, with the current route taking to long and losing ships to pirates. They hired William Barents to find a route through the North, he takes 3 voyages to find a pass, but the elements don't let him the final voyage he and his crew are left stranded in the ice until the next summer. His journey notes and observations lead to many discoveries in science and exploration. What I Liked: The tale of survival and the descriptions of isolation and the extreme weather are pretty terrifying. Polar bears are scary and stealth. The polar bear attacks are brutal and really frightening. I liked learning about the navigational tools at the time and how genius Barents was to navigate it. I liked learning the legacy after Barents death. What I Disliked: There was a part of the story where it seemed that Barents and the other officer didn't do anything, it explained they were the most valuable so the other crew members took the risk, but it's almost as the characters go missing 30 pages until something that happens that needs leadership. it was sad that most of the crew did not have names, or any description of what most of the crew looked like. Recommendations: I will recommend this nonfiction, the history is not to boring and the treat of death is everywhere and you feel that tension. This book reads like a horror in some places, the biggest fiction I could compare it Dan Simmons' The Terror which is fictional based on the true Story of the HMS Terror where explorers were trying to get the North Pole. The actual journey of the HMS. Terror was influenced by Barents. I rated Icebound: Shipwrecked at The Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer 4 out of 5 stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carmen212

    I usually like a lot of detail esp. in history books. Over-arching and sweeping is fine, but the details is what gets me. But in Icebound the details had me bogged down just as the sailors were bogged down in ice. So I skimmed. I skimmed about 1/3 and read 2/3. It really is an amazing adventure - the most modern technology was not really up to the job. I learned a lot about scurvy--only humans, bats and one other mammal need vitamin C to live. Killing foxes helped a little because the foxes had I usually like a lot of detail esp. in history books. Over-arching and sweeping is fine, but the details is what gets me. But in Icebound the details had me bogged down just as the sailors were bogged down in ice. So I skimmed. I skimmed about 1/3 and read 2/3. It really is an amazing adventure - the most modern technology was not really up to the job. I learned a lot about scurvy--only humans, bats and one other mammal need vitamin C to live. Killing foxes helped a little because the foxes had eaten animals with Vitamin C in their innards and had a modicum of vitamin C storage in their bodies. The sailors lived in a cabin for many months--an aside, the author tried to find this cabin 400 years later and did find some wood. Terrible terrible hardships.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    What an interesting book! I did enjoy reading ICEBOUND: SHIPWRECKED AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. It was fascinating how courageous these men were and how they continued on. What an enjoyable book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    David V.

    Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 10-29-20. Finished 11-4-20. I can remember in my childhood studying "The Age of Exploration" to death!!! But I don't remember ever hearing about the Dutch explorer William Barents and his three heroic attempts to find a clear passage to China via the Arctic Circle starting in 1594 .Journeys that made for wonderful storytelling and almost killed him and his brave crews. His story alone would have made us students acutely aware of the dangers of this Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 10-29-20. Finished 11-4-20. I can remember in my childhood studying "The Age of Exploration" to death!!! But I don't remember ever hearing about the Dutch explorer William Barents and his three heroic attempts to find a clear passage to China via the Arctic Circle starting in 1594 .Journeys that made for wonderful storytelling and almost killed him and his brave crews. His story alone would have made us students acutely aware of the dangers of this kind of venture. Teachers could have skipped most of the other more well-known explorers in favor of William Barents. Blizzards, ice floes, polar bear attacks, scurvy, leadership conflicts, horrendous weather conditions, trapped in the ice, food and water shortages, inadequate cold weather clothing (in the late 1590's!!!!!!). Reads like a novel rather than non-fiction. Can easily picture these locations and events.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cav

    I'm a big a fan of accounts of real-life sagas and incredible journeys, so I put this one on my list as soon as I came across it. Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World details three 16th century Arctic journeys by Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew in attempts to find a northern passage across the sea that now bears his namesake, and establish a new trade route from Holland to China and the East. William Barents: Author Andrea Pitzer is an American journalist, known I'm a big a fan of accounts of real-life sagas and incredible journeys, so I put this one on my list as soon as I came across it. Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World details three 16th century Arctic journeys by Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew in attempts to find a northern passage across the sea that now bears his namesake, and establish a new trade route from Holland to China and the East. William Barents: Author Andrea Pitzer is an American journalist, known for her books One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps and The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov. Andrea Pitzer: At the time, it was thought that a northern passage through the Artcic would be ice-free. Establishing a northern trade route would save weeks of travel time, and keep merchant ships out of the hands of pirates, which were quite a problem in those days. Icebound details the three voyages of Barents. Miraculously, despite being ill-prepared and unequipped for surviving in the extreme conditions of the high Arctic, the first two voyages did not end in disaster. But the third time's the charm, and in Barents case; the tragedy, as their boat became stuck in the sea ice off the northern island of Novaya Zemlya. Pitzer writes: "...On his first Arctic voyage, Barents had pressed eastward until his men refused to go farther. On his second trip, Barents had argued for staying behind with two ships to overwinter and scout out clear passage at the first spring thaw—a plan that likely helped provoke open mutiny and executions. On this, the third voyage, he’d finally sailed the route he’d hoped to with no one forcing him home, and now he would overwinter. As in some dark fairy tale, he received everything he’d asked for, but none of it came as good tidings. The issue of mutiny, which had haunted his prior voyages, was finally transcended—but only because any possibility of sailing for home had vanished..." Novaya Zemlya: The book chronicles the obstacles faced by Barents' men, including many polar bear encounters. None of the men had even heard of a bear living this far north, and were greatly surprised when they encountered one for the first time. In what sounded like the style of the time, they killed almost every one they came across, at first throwing away the meat and keeping the skins as trophies to be brought back home. It would not be until later in the book, after they became stranded, that they decided to actually eat the meat. The polar bears make frequent appearances in the book, as Pitzer recounts many of the men's harrowing encounters with the Arctic's apex predators. The intrepid explorers didn't always come out on top in these encounters, however, and the book describes many attacks on the crew by the bears, and even a death caused by them. While stranded, the men managed to scavenge some wood and made a cabin, complete with a barrel sauna: Despite having some incredibly rich source material to work with here, I found Pitzer's telling of this story fell somewhat flat for me. The book has its moments, to be sure - but sadly I found much of the writing here to be a little dry for my tastes. This is most likely a subjective thing, and I don't doubt that others will disagree with me here. Even taking into account the above criticism, this one was still a pretty decent book, that I would recommend to anyone interested. 3.5 stars.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Godsey

    An awe insuring feat for sure, but it just became less interesting as it went along. I could only take so many polar bear tales.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I've read quite a few arctic explorer works lately. Most manage to evoke a sense of the emotions behind the events, the desire to find a new route to the riches of the East, to make a name for oneself, the fear and suffering of being trapped in ice for a year or more, the suffering of slow death by starvation and disease. Somehow, Pitzer misses all this while delivering the facts. To me, it seems clear that the author had access to firsthand recollections of the three arctic voyages Barents parti I've read quite a few arctic explorer works lately. Most manage to evoke a sense of the emotions behind the events, the desire to find a new route to the riches of the East, to make a name for oneself, the fear and suffering of being trapped in ice for a year or more, the suffering of slow death by starvation and disease. Somehow, Pitzer misses all this while delivering the facts. To me, it seems clear that the author had access to firsthand recollections of the three arctic voyages Barents participated in as navigator. Her text could easily have been a chronological bullet point list transliterated from surviving documentation. All the facts would be present stripped of emotion . . . much as her prose presents things. Yes, the voyages are here. Yes, the tragedy and hardship of being stranded in an Arctic winter. Yes, the hardships of scurvy, being hunted by polar bears, nearly freezing to death, and Vitamin A poisoning are all here, faithfully reported, listed, enumerated. What I find missing is the human element. A personality clash between Barents and the commander of the third exploratory fleet that eventually results in splitting the fleet and nearly killing all of the men under Barents is merely "reported" but not examined. There is no "why," no feeling of the tension the building arguments must have created. Even the mutiny during the second voyage and the resulting punishments and deaths seem to be glossed over, enumerated but not "felt." Ultimately, the facts are here. We know what these men did but we don't know why, really. The human aspect is, I feel, missing. Maybe it's just me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I love these kinds of books! In this well-researched book we learn all about the expeditions led by William Barents, a Dutch explorer who attempted find a northern route to Asia in the late 1500s. He sailed farther north than any other Westerner at the time, fending of the (for the crew) fabled white bears, getting trapped in ice, and facing bitter cold. On the last trip, Barents and his team were forced to spend a winter with dwindling supplies in a wood hut, they built from wood "borrowed" fro I love these kinds of books! In this well-researched book we learn all about the expeditions led by William Barents, a Dutch explorer who attempted find a northern route to Asia in the late 1500s. He sailed farther north than any other Westerner at the time, fending of the (for the crew) fabled white bears, getting trapped in ice, and facing bitter cold. On the last trip, Barents and his team were forced to spend a winter with dwindling supplies in a wood hut, they built from wood "borrowed" from their ship. Staying warm, finding food, staving off scurvy, and keeping sane over the long sunless months was amazing in itself. In the spring, the men realized they had to abandon their iced-in ship and try to make it home in a couple of small boats. Fascinating details about mutiny, early thoughts on polar ecology, issues with nutrition, confrontations with polar bears, and more. As I often do with nonfiction, I both read and listened to this gripping real-life story. Fred Sanders did an excellent job with the narration, keeping my total attention. Note that my listening experience was much enhanced by being able to follow the voyages on the maps included with only the print book. Thanks to the publishers for the review copies in different media.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Team Polar Bear

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robert Peters-Gehrke

    I am sorry but this is one of the worst non-fiction books I have ever read. Yep, it is that bad. The premise is promising: Narrating the unfortunate final Barents expedition to the Arctic North, ending in disaster, hardship and death, but also showing human perseverance. A great story but the author buried it under pages and pages and pages on which she (why???) gave us every little bit of information of the original diaries (why not read them instead?) thus creating an utterly boring ''narrative I am sorry but this is one of the worst non-fiction books I have ever read. Yep, it is that bad. The premise is promising: Narrating the unfortunate final Barents expedition to the Arctic North, ending in disaster, hardship and death, but also showing human perseverance. A great story but the author buried it under pages and pages and pages on which she (why???) gave us every little bit of information of the original diaries (why not read them instead?) thus creating an utterly boring ''narrative'' of another bear, another storm, another dark day, another whatever, testing the reader's patience in a suspenseless drone of, well, another bear. And foxes. And a bear. All told in the most tedious style imaginable: On August 2..., on August 7..., on August 20... Like a really uninterested highschool pupil would write this story down. And that's not all which is wrong with the book: It begins with some historical background so sketchy that you don't understand anything if you haven't done some research already on Dutch history. Add meaningless namedropping (hey, William Shakespeare alluded to Barents, did you know that? And Nansen was in the Arctic, too. Also Franklin), irritating repetitions (scurvy and its cure are mentioned a zillion times as if the reader would forget that vitamin C is essential after being told over and over again) and a misguided allusion to climate change in the final chapter, even going so far as turning poor Barents into the dooropener for apocalyptic disaster. Really? A lazily written, utterly boring and finally pointless book. A major disappointment. Please avoid it. Read the National Geography report about Barents instead. It is short, concise, much better written and tells a really interesting story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Hill

    Icebound was a truly remarkable story about the expeditions to the polar regions. William Barents was a renowned explorer, and the amazing journey and fight for survival that his crew undertook were astounding, heartbreaking, and captivating. This is one of those books that draws you in, laying out in detail the dangers of the voyage, the uncertainties of the time, and the amazing feats that were undertaken to explore, chart, and share with the known world at the time the amazing discoveries alo Icebound was a truly remarkable story about the expeditions to the polar regions. William Barents was a renowned explorer, and the amazing journey and fight for survival that his crew undertook were astounding, heartbreaking, and captivating. This is one of those books that draws you in, laying out in detail the dangers of the voyage, the uncertainties of the time, and the amazing feats that were undertaken to explore, chart, and share with the known world at the time the amazing discoveries along the way. I had a hard time setting this one down, and it is one that I hope to read again in the future - it was that good! History-lovers should definitely add this book to their lists, they are in for a treat with this book! *I received a free copy of this book for an honest and unbiased review*

  17. 5 out of 5

    J.B.

    Listened to the audiobook. I did not finish this book, I couldn't. Listened to three hours The writing is really good, the research even better. I'm going to get the other book by this very talented writer, but the people in this book weren't anyone I cared to learn about. Not in an audiobook of this length. A documentary, sure. These people were horrible, infuriatingly so. I don't care what they found, what they went through, or how they might have helped changed history for the better. All the Listened to the audiobook. I did not finish this book, I couldn't. Listened to three hours The writing is really good, the research even better. I'm going to get the other book by this very talented writer, but the people in this book weren't anyone I cared to learn about. Not in an audiobook of this length. A documentary, sure. These people were horrible, infuriatingly so. I don't care what they found, what they went through, or how they might have helped changed history for the better. All they did was steal, kidnap, over-punish and kill just about every dang animal they came across. Again, I get that this is real life, but it doesn't mean I have to like them or want to hear anything about them in any great detail.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    Big real-life adventure story about navigating uncharted waters while needing warmth and food. Often the explorers are menaced by polar bears (well, to be fair, sometimes they harass the bears first). Sometimes their own assumptions work against them (the Arctic will be free of ice? and who told them they could eat a polar bear?) Cool history.

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Wells

    I love non-fiction books about polar exploration. Prior to this book all the books I've read about polar exploration take place in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth-century. Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World takes place in the late sixteenth century, describing Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew 's journey. A very readable and very interesting book. I love non-fiction books about polar exploration. Prior to this book all the books I've read about polar exploration take place in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth-century. Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World takes place in the late sixteenth century, describing Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew 's journey. A very readable and very interesting book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paige Braddock

    Great read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tom Johnson

    I have read more than a few arctic adventures. This book fit in nicely. Barents was the Dutchman who started the Arctic craze so I learned much about the beginnings of the quest for the North Pole. Being the first western European meant that Barents and his crew had much to learn such as you cannot easily shoo off a polar bear or a walrus for that matter. They were no where near properly dressed for the subzero temperatures that they would have to endure.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    Oh my goodness, I have to admit that there was so many times that I laughed out loud with this book. The polar bears....oh my...what a great archenemy for the explorers. I know that the book was non fiction, but the way the explorers went about their days when in danger from the polar bears was astonishing. Overall, this is a great book. I had not heard of Williem or William Barents before and I was constantly going on google maps to see where the islands were. The author did a great job deliverin Oh my goodness, I have to admit that there was so many times that I laughed out loud with this book. The polar bears....oh my...what a great archenemy for the explorers. I know that the book was non fiction, but the way the explorers went about their days when in danger from the polar bears was astonishing. Overall, this is a great book. I had not heard of Williem or William Barents before and I was constantly going on google maps to see where the islands were. The author did a great job delivering what had happened and how the men got through being stuck in the ice. The only drawback, some of the authors wanderings on other voyages. Only drawback. OVerall a great exploration book. I want to thank Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me this ARC for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Annika Hipple

    I enjoy books about polar exploration, so I was very interested to read this account of an early expedition that sailed further north than anyone had ever gone before, centuries before the so-called golden age of polar exploration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dutchman William Barents made three expeditions to the Arctic in search of a northern route to China. On his first two expeditions he reached Nova Zembla (Novaya Zemlya) but was forced to turn back due to heavy sea ice. His th I enjoy books about polar exploration, so I was very interested to read this account of an early expedition that sailed further north than anyone had ever gone before, centuries before the so-called golden age of polar exploration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dutchman William Barents made three expeditions to the Arctic in search of a northern route to China. On his first two expeditions he reached Nova Zembla (Novaya Zemlya) but was forced to turn back due to heavy sea ice. His third expedition, in 1596, headed more directly north with two ships, captained by Jacob van Heemskerk and Jan Cornelis Rijp. After discovering Spitsbergen, there was disagreement about where to go next. Barents, van Heemskerk, and their crew of 15 others opted to continue on to Nova Zembla, parting ways with Rijp and his ship. After rounding the northern tip of Nova Zembla, Barents's ship became mired in ice, forcing the 17 men to overwinter on the island's barren shore. The story of this harrowing ordeal, for which they were woefully unprepared, makes up the bulk of Andrea Pitzer's book. Marooned far from any chance of rescue, the crew faced the long dark of an Arctic winter, a constant struggle to find food, terrible sickness due to scurvy, and frequent threats from polar bears. It's an adventure worth reading about, yet despite all its inherent drama, I often found the story curiously flat. It's not necessarily the author's fault--she writes well and has clearly done extensive research, although her digressions into later polar exploration and other tangentially related topics sometimes felt a bit like padding to make the book longer (it's under 300 pages anyway). I think the main problem with the book is that there are no personalities. With the exception of Barents, van Heemskerk, Rijp, and crew member Gerrit de Veer, whose diary of the expedition is one of Pitzer's main sources, no one is mentioned by name. I am sure this is because their names have not been recorded in history, but this unfortunate fact means that much of the story simply reads as "They did this" and "Then this happened." As a result, Pitzer's story lacks the compelling characters and interpersonal drama that is makes books about later polar explorers so fascinating. There's also a lot of repetition, simply because the crews lives while stranded on Nova Zembla were so monotonous. They starved, got lucky and managed to kill a fox for food, struggled to keep warm, killed a polar bear, trekked to their stranded ship for supplies, went looking for wood to burn or build with, killed another polar bear, etc. From a modern perspective, the number of polar bears they killed was horrifying. Some of them were a direct threat, but other were shot just because that was what the crew did when they saw an animal. At one point Pitzer quotes a modern researcher saying something like, "It's a miracle there's any wildlife left in the Arctic at all." I'm torn between two or three stars for this one, but I'll round up. This was worth reading to learn about early Arctic exploration and an extraordinary saga of survival under the harshest of conditions, but it dragged on a bit despite Pitzer's best efforts. The anonymity and repetition aren't her fault, but there's only so much you can do with limited source material.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    If I could give this book zero stars I would. I have never written a review before, but this book was so painfully bad, poorly written and lazily researched I couldn't NOT write a review. I'm a huge fan of maritime writing, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as of arctic and antarctic non-fiction. I have read much on the subject, from "Trial by Ice', to"Frozen in Time" to "Labyrinth of Ice" to Hampton Side's 2014 masterpiece, "In the Kingdom of Ice". These books all show diligent research on t If I could give this book zero stars I would. I have never written a review before, but this book was so painfully bad, poorly written and lazily researched I couldn't NOT write a review. I'm a huge fan of maritime writing, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as of arctic and antarctic non-fiction. I have read much on the subject, from "Trial by Ice', to"Frozen in Time" to "Labyrinth of Ice" to Hampton Side's 2014 masterpiece, "In the Kingdom of Ice". These books all show diligent research on the subject, attention to historical detail, proper scientific, arctic and maritime terminology, and a general knowledge of ships, the polar regions, and the historical backdrop. Ms. Pitzer shows none of these. It appeared to me, at every new page, that this was a book written by a third grade teacher, for third graders. Awkwardly written, with inept, incorrect terminology, it appears to be extremely lazily "researched". She clearly has never foot on a ship, and didn't take the time to learn a single correct nautical term. To write a book about the age of sail and not bother to learn a single proper term for the working of a square-rig vessel, to write about the arctic and not grasp the vast difference between an ice floe and an iceberg to me shows a laziness and a lack of respect for subject she's writing about. It's almost as if she took Willem Barents's official logs of his three voyages, and re-transcribed them into third grade English, almost word-for-word. How she managed to turn this courageous early arctic explorer's fascinating, tragic story into a Sesame street-like snooze-fest is a tribute to bad writers everywhere. That a book like this could be published and then garner positive reviews is just sad to me. If you want to read an historically accurate, well-researched book on a fateful arctic expedition that you won't be able to put down, read "In the Kingdom of Ice". If you want to read about Willem Barents in the arctic, read "Into the Ice Sea" by Jaapjan Zeeberg. Do not, however, read "Icebound".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Over 3 voyages between 1594 and 1597 navigator William Barents led Dutch Republic ships to the high Arctic in the 400+ year quest to find an open seaway that would be a shorter route to the riches of Asia. By happenstance I've gotten hooked on these Arctic expedition histories, and they're all good reading with nail-biting close calls and tragedy, as well as descriptions of the sheer force of nature. This one adds an earlier history and places the adventure in the rivalry and warfare between the Over 3 voyages between 1594 and 1597 navigator William Barents led Dutch Republic ships to the high Arctic in the 400+ year quest to find an open seaway that would be a shorter route to the riches of Asia. By happenstance I've gotten hooked on these Arctic expedition histories, and they're all good reading with nail-biting close calls and tragedy, as well as descriptions of the sheer force of nature. This one adds an earlier history and places the adventure in the rivalry and warfare between the Spanish colonial empire and the rising and very wealthy merchants of the Netherlands. Ships had been making their way north along the Norwegian coast and trading with Russian fishermen, but Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla Islands were unknown territory. Add to the usual entrapment by icebergs and a frozen sea, hungry and powerful polar bears added surprise ambushes and terror. In one of the very first encounters, one of the sailors was devoured right in front of his shipmates. The guns of the day were unreliable. During the last voyage, when the ship was totally frozen along the shore and slowly filling with water and ice, they managed to build a cabin. Unprepared as they were for total darkness and deadly cold, they were lucky enough to find driftwood from forests to the south and eat just enough Arctic foxes with their miniscule vitamin C in their flesh to stay alive. Their escape back south in the summer enabled them to find a small plant rich in vitamin C and come upon helpful Russians. Although the brilliant navigator Barents did not return to Amsterdam, Gerrit de Veer returned with his diary, which was soon translated into English. Frozen Nova Zembla entered the literary imagination of several authors, including Shakespeare's. Pitzer does a good job of seamlessly telling additional stories of more recent polar expeditions to highlight the conditions of this very early one. And her research and visit to the island a couple years ago add contrast and comparison to the audacity and suffering of those men so long ago.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marianne Wason

    Credit must be given to Andrea Pitzer for the effort she put into Icebound. In fact, read the Coda first (at the end, “The Shores of Nova Zembla”), where she reviews her extensive research and her trips to Svalbard to visit the site of Barents’s castaway winter. This chapter will give you a sense of her personal drive to recount the expedition . . . and that will help you read this unfortunately tepid account. True, the story itself is engrossing, and the suspense keeps you reading. But Pitzer i Credit must be given to Andrea Pitzer for the effort she put into Icebound. In fact, read the Coda first (at the end, “The Shores of Nova Zembla”), where she reviews her extensive research and her trips to Svalbard to visit the site of Barents’s castaway winter. This chapter will give you a sense of her personal drive to recount the expedition . . . and that will help you read this unfortunately tepid account. True, the story itself is engrossing, and the suspense keeps you reading. But Pitzer is a competent writer, not a gifted one, and the book reads more like a day-by-day report, as though she took the first-person journals and summarized them paragraph by paragraph. The telling gets monotonous, whereas a good writer would know to change tone and style as befits the content. For instance, read David Grann’s The White Darkness, about Henry Worsley’s ill-fated attempt to cross the Antarctic alone in 2015/16. You can’t put the book down; he's a tremendous writer. Another problem – no photographs, poor maps, and too few illustrations from the publications of de Veer’s journal. I don’t fault Pitzer for this; it’s likely the publisher’s decision, but it certainly hurts the impact of the book. (1) No photos, not even some taken by the author on her trips to Svalbard. Why not? There are many stock photos of the site today; google for them. (2) Poor maps. The maps are so simplistic, they’re not helpful. There’s no one map marking the three expeditions of 1594, 1595, and 1596/1597. There’s not even a polar map in the book! Why not? (3) The illustrations are small and poorly reproduced. Why? This is Scribner, not a third-rate publisher. (However, the cover is fabulous.) I read the New York Times review after writing this, and I agree with this critique: “But Icebound is curiously dispassionate about its human subjects. Over some 200 pages, events are dutifully logged, hewing closely to de Veer’s account. Yet Pitzer seems reluctant to venture into the minds of the individuals who gambled so much and took such pains to tell their stories.” If you love accounts of polar expeditions, read this, for sure. Otherwise, I would skip it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aurora

    This is a page-turner of an Arctic adventure/survival story, with vivid descriptions of the land, sea, and, most of all, the endless crushing ice. The Barents expeditions searched the High Arctic for a northeast passage between Europe and China in the closing years of the 16th century. Their voyages were filled with wonders and hardships, even before Barents' ship was trapped by ice at the far northern edge of Nova Zembla, when the adventure truly begins. Frequent near-death encounters with pola This is a page-turner of an Arctic adventure/survival story, with vivid descriptions of the land, sea, and, most of all, the endless crushing ice. The Barents expeditions searched the High Arctic for a northeast passage between Europe and China in the closing years of the 16th century. Their voyages were filled with wonders and hardships, even before Barents' ship was trapped by ice at the far northern edge of Nova Zembla, when the adventure truly begins. Frequent near-death encounters with polar bears frame moments of beauty and mystery, such as the Arctic sunrise that stunned the expedition when it arrived several weeks before the expected end of the polar night. (The phenomenon was only fully understood in 1979, when it was named the Novaya Zemlya effect.) I have read almost every Arctic (and Antarctic) survival story written or translated into English, and this is the best I've read yet. It weaves the nail-biting drama of surviving in a hostile world of ice and sea and stone together with the larger historical context driving that exploration: the expansion of empires and the cruelty and exploitation that came with them. At the same time, the reader can still enjoy the sense of awe and discovery of exploring a new and unknown domain, filled with strange people, cryptic monuments, and fearful wildlife. If you'd like to learn more about the research that went into this book, the author wrote a gorgeous story about the Arctic sailing trip she took to Nova Zembla, published in Outside Magazine as "My Mid-Life Crisis as a Russian Sailor." For various reasons, I can't visit the Arctic myself, but this story made me feel like I'd actually been there, more than anything else I've read. Bottom line: if you enjoy a well-written adventure story with the depth and detail that comes from serious research, hit the order button now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    FOLIO

    The facts of Barentsz' overwintering on Novaya Zemlya are so astounding almost any book drawing inspiration from them is going to be an interesting read, but unfortunately on the turn from page 1 to page 2, I already hit a problem that was hard to recover from, as it made me worry about the reliability of what was to follow: "Was Nova Zembla - "New Land" in Dutch - an island that could be circumnavigated...". Nova Zembla is *not* Dutch for New Land. Nova Zembla is simply the Dutch spelling of th The facts of Barentsz' overwintering on Novaya Zemlya are so astounding almost any book drawing inspiration from them is going to be an interesting read, but unfortunately on the turn from page 1 to page 2, I already hit a problem that was hard to recover from, as it made me worry about the reliability of what was to follow: "Was Nova Zembla - "New Land" in Dutch - an island that could be circumnavigated...". Nova Zembla is *not* Dutch for New Land. Nova Zembla is simply the Dutch spelling of the Russian Novaya Zemlya. Yes the RUSSIAN means New land, but to start with such a basic mistake in only the second paragraph of the book does not set the reader up well for trusting the writing that is to follow. The fact that in the acknowledgements the author thanks someone who "caught and pointed out an error early on - one that i'm glad didn't make it into the pages of the book." (p.276) doesn't add further confidence in the narrative. The story of Barentsz and his crew is amazing, and definitely deserves to be better known. It's thrilling and exhilarating, edge of the seat stuff, packed with wonder at human ability to persist in the face of utter and repeated despair and calamity. But if you pick up this book to learn about Barentsz, you'll be disappointed by the lack of illustrations (a few outline maps - such a shame in a book about someone who was such a brilliant cartographer - and chapter opening illustrations drawn from historic publications are all that are provided) even if the glaring error at the start doesn't leave you wondering what else has the author misinterpreted. **This review is based on the UK edition ISBN 9781471182730

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Fans of tale of explorers, especially those who forged paths through the Arctic, will relish this incredibly well researched and readable tale of the exploits of William Barents, a Dutch cartographer who was certain there was an easy way to China. Make no mistake, there were economic reasons for this and Pitzer does a great job of scene setting. I learned a great deal about trade and politics of the period as well as, of course, about what it was like to try to survive an arctic winter. Barents' Fans of tale of explorers, especially those who forged paths through the Arctic, will relish this incredibly well researched and readable tale of the exploits of William Barents, a Dutch cartographer who was certain there was an easy way to China. Make no mistake, there were economic reasons for this and Pitzer does a great job of scene setting. I learned a great deal about trade and politics of the period as well as, of course, about what it was like to try to survive an arctic winter. Barents' ship was turned back twice by ice before his last, ill fated journey which saw him trapped. Gentle readers should know that just about every form of wild life is killed, eaten, and so on by these men, who find themselves in a horrible place, beset by cold, scurvy, despair. The polar bears, btw, don't go easily and there are some frightening scenes of bear attacks. The group, reduced by privation, finally is able to head home in two small ships but it's not a happy event. It's not a spoiler that Barents dies before he reaches home. I read a lot of books about the region- this is one of my favorites. Yes, Pitzer does divert from strictly following Barents at times but gosh I learned a lot. It's less emotional than it cold be, likely because she stays true to her journalistic roots, but that was fine with me. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARc. I'm a fan and recommend for those interested in the region.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lance E

    Reading media reviews and those in the flyleaf of this book, one sees the commercial corruption in today's publishing world. ICEBOUND's writing is, in turns, clumsy, grossly disjointed, forced, vacuous, roaming, sloppy, fragmented, and simply inept. It is rife with redundancies, purple prose ('bristling bustle,' breathing a shape"), errors of grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and composition, and sown with ambiguity. I found 40 writing mistakes in the first 5 pages, and stopped counting. Phra Reading media reviews and those in the flyleaf of this book, one sees the commercial corruption in today's publishing world. ICEBOUND's writing is, in turns, clumsy, grossly disjointed, forced, vacuous, roaming, sloppy, fragmented, and simply inept. It is rife with redundancies, purple prose ('bristling bustle,' breathing a shape"), errors of grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and composition, and sown with ambiguity. I found 40 writing mistakes in the first 5 pages, and stopped counting. Phrasing is cliched, usage trite, and plenty of paragraphs have no contextual point. Pitzer exhibits religious bias, and the work is strewn with factual errors. She uses BCE, and then AD, and then nothing. Pages are rife with passive voice and sprinkled with mini-malaprops. She claims the Vikings sailed "half the globe," when they barely left the North Atlantic (So. Hemishphere? Asia? the Med? Pac. Ocean?) For a sea-story writer, Pitzer is woefully ignorant of seamanship. This is one of the most glaring examples of the lack of editorial discipline I have read. Scribner should be ashamed. Pitzer claims education at MIT, Harvard, and Georgetown; all those schools would be embarrassed to see a student produce this 8th-grade rubbish. Those in the media writing favorable reviews should wash their mouths out with Drano. This isn't journalism; it's under-prepared, cookbook tripe that inflicts violent indigestion on the reading public. I've found more absorption in beer-bar chit chat.

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