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Fast in the Ice

Fast in the Ice by Robert Michael Ballantyne
By: (1825-1894)

At the age of 16 Ballantyne went to Canada and was six years in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company. His rule in writing, being in every case, was to write as far as possible from personal knowledge of the scenes he described.

In this book he details the lives of the crew as they must overwinter in the frozen north including their meetings with Eskimos and bears and their struggles with disease. This is a realistic account of what life was like for the explorers of the Arctic.

First Page:

Fast in the Ice, Adventures in the Polar Regions, by R.M. Ballantyne.

This little book describes a visit up to the Arctic regions, that was supposed to have taken place long before the book was written, in other words in the early part of the nineteenth century. The purpose of the journey was to get near to the North Pole, which was considered to be surrounded by a large area of ice free water. The vessel in which they sailed became beset by ice, and could not be moved. They met with Esquimaux, and saw how they survived, how they killed walrus, how they caught birds, and how they lived in their ice houses, or igloos. They also had several encounters with polar bears, and musk ox.

Eventually they have been in the ice for a couple of years, and some of the men are suffering from scurvy. Europeans get scurvy from lack of fruit and vegetables, but this condition doesn't seem to affect the Esquimaux, whose meat and fat diet does not cause them to have heart disorders, either.

The crew eventually abandon the vessel, which has been crushed suddenly and totally by a stream of ice floes, and are obliged to walk out of where they had spent so much time... Continue reading book >>

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