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The Impossible Rescue
Cover of The Impossible Rescue
The Impossible Rescue
The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure
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The dead of an Arctic winter. Whaling ships full of men, stranded in ice. Follow three rescuers in a race against time—and all odds—in this heartpounding true adventure. In 1897, whaling in the Arctic waters off Alaska's coast was as dangerous as it was lucrative. And in that particular year, winter blasted early, bringing storms and ice packs that caught eight American whale ships and three hundred sailors off guard. Their ships locked in ice, with no means of escape, the whalers had limited provisions on board, and little hope of surviving until warmer temperatures arrived many months later. Here is the incredible story of three men sent by President McKinley to rescue them. The mission? A perilous trek over 1,500 miles of nearly impassable Alaskan terrain, in the bone-chilling months of winter, to secure two herds of reindeer (for food) and find a way to guide them to the whalers before they starve. With the help of photographs and journal entries by one of the rescuers, Martin W. Sandler takes us on every step of their riveting journey, facing raging blizzards, killing cold, injured sled dogs, and setbacks to test the strongest of wills.

The dead of an Arctic winter. Whaling ships full of men, stranded in ice. Follow three rescuers in a race against time—and all odds—in this heartpounding true adventure. In 1897, whaling in the Arctic waters off Alaska's coast was as dangerous as it was lucrative. And in that particular year, winter blasted early, bringing storms and ice packs that caught eight American whale ships and three hundred sailors off guard. Their ships locked in ice, with no means of escape, the whalers had limited provisions on board, and little hope of surviving until warmer temperatures arrived many months later. Here is the incredible story of three men sent by President McKinley to rescue them. The mission? A perilous trek over 1,500 miles of nearly impassable Alaskan terrain, in the bone-chilling months of winter, to secure two herds of reindeer (for food) and find a way to guide them to the whalers before they starve. With the help of photographs and journal entries by one of the rescuers, Martin W. Sandler takes us on every step of their riveting journey, facing raging blizzards, killing cold, injured sled dogs, and setbacks to test the strongest of wills.

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Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    8.2
  • Lexile:
    1270
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    7

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About the Author-
  • Martin W. Sandler has written more than seventy books for children and adults and has written and produced seven television series. He has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has won multiple Emmy Awards. He lives in Massachusetts.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 20, 2012
    In 1897, winter arrived early in the Arctic Ocean—disastrously early for the crews of eight San Francisco–based whaling ships locked in ice off the northwestern coast of Alaska. President McKinley issued an order to launch an expedition to rescue the 265 stranded whalers, which Sandler (the Through the Lens series) chronicles in scrupulous and riveting detail. When heavy ice prevented Bear, the Revenue Cutter Service ship assigned to the mission, to reach a port close to the distressed ships, its captain dropped three crew members at an accessible harbor to the south to make the nearly 2,000-mile overland trek to bring the whalers food and other provisions to keep them alive until Bear could reach them. Sandler's vivid account is laced with journal entries and illustrated by informative maps and often breathtaking b&w photographs of the rescuers, the indigenous Alaskans who aided them, the frozen Arctic wilderness, and the distressed whaling ships; many photos were taken by one of the expedition's leaders. Crisply designed with plentiful white space, this book shares a thrilling and inspirational story of determination, perseverance, and bravery. Ages 10–14.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2012

    Gr 5 Up-Endurance. Fortitude. Bravery. Any of these words could easily describe the people involved in this amazing, but little-known rescue-adventure. The year was 1897 and whaling was big business in America. Whaleship captains hunting in the Arctic Circle, pushing for more whales and the profits they meant, ended up stranded by the ice pack, affecting eight ships and their crews. One ship managed to escape the danger and alert the U.S. government to the predicament, thus setting in motion a nearly "impossible rescue." A few daring men with the experience and willingness to tackle such a mission quickly gathered their supplies and courage and headed north to bring food in the form of herded reindeer and help to some 300 sailors stuck in the Arctic winter. Using extensive primary sources in the form of journals, reports, letters, and photographs, Sandler has pieced together a stirring and evocative retelling of this historical adventure. The writing draws readers into both the suspense of reaching the struggling whalers in time as well as the dire, life-threatening conditions that the rescuers themselves faced. Archival black-and-white photographs taken during the journey help pull the whole story together and prove an excellent visual accompaniment to the unfolding drama. An epilogue answers many of the "what happened after..." questions, and extensive source notes round out the back matter. For readers who prefer their drama to be true, suggest this title along with Jennifer Armstrong's Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (Crown, 1998), Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (Villard, 1997), and Dolores Johnson's Onward: a Photobiography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson (National Geographic, 2005).-Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 15, 2012
    Sandler brings to life an extraordinary true adventure tale set on the treacherous Arctic terrain. In September 1897, eight whaling vessels became icebound near Point Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in America, and 265 men faced starvation. Acting on orders from President McKinley, Secretary of the Treasury Lyman Gage sent Capt. Francis Tuttle and his ship, the Bear, on a rescue mission. He would take the Bear as far north as possible, put three officers ashore and send them over 1,500 miles overland to aid the men. Using a combination of dog-powered and reindeer-drawn sleds, herding 400 reindeer and living off the land along the way, the three-man rescue team, with immense help from indigenous people, succeeded in their journey through the Arctic winter, arriving 103 days after leaving the Bear. Remarkable photographs, many taken by one of the rescuing officers, grace just about every spread, and even the captions are fascinating. The narrative's excitement is heightened by the words of the participants, drawn from their actual letters, diaries, journals and other personal reminiscences. Maps are well drawn, documentation is meticulous, and the backmatter includes a section on what happened to the key players and a useful timeline. Outstanding nonfiction writing that makes history come alive. (source notes, bibliography, photography credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from May 15, 2012
    Grades 5-8 *Starred Review* Sandler offers another dramatic tale of Arctic disaster and near superhuman endurance set near the locale of his previous Trapped in Ice! An Amazing True Whaling Adventure (2006). Here, capitalizing on unusually detailed documentary evidence that includes a stash of actual photographs, he follows an 189798 rescue mounted by the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (predecessor of the Coast Guard) in the wake of news that eight whaling ships with almost 300 men had been trapped in winter ice near Alaska's Point Barrow. Dubbed the Overland Relief Expedition, the small crew of rescuers and native residents not only traveled over 1,500 miles of rough ice and rock on dogsleds but also, along the way, picked up and drove two herds of Siberian reindeer that were part of an experimental government program. Upon arrival the rescuers were saddled with keeping the filthy, illness-ridden, increasingly sullen, and unruly sailors in line for three months until the ice broke up. Along with plenty of atmospheric expedition photos of rugged territory and rugged-looking men, Sandler adds frequent route maps to help readers follow along. He caps his account with additional enhancements such as notes on the later careers of the rescuers and other participants (notable among the latter being Ned McIlhenny of Tabasco sauce fame, who happened to be at Point Barrow on a scientific expedition), and a relevant, digestible bibliography. A terrific true tale, well told.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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    Candlewick Press
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The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure
Martin W. Sandler
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