In the Land of White Death

Valerian Albanov (1882–1919)
In the Land of White Death
Translated from the Russian by Alison Anderson
New York: The Modern Library, 2000

One should not poke one’s nose into places where
Nature does not want the presence of man.

If you enjoy books of polar exploration such as Alfred Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage and Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, the comparatively overlooked In the Land of White Death by Valerian Albanov (first published in 1917) may be to your liking. Searching for new Arctic hunting grounds in 1912, the crew of the Saint Anna found themselves trapped in the ice of the Kara Sea. Albanov and thirteen of his crew set off across the ice for Franz Josef Land, a ninety-day, 235-mile march of remorseless hardship and terror, with only an outdated map to guide them. The crew endured starvation, walrus attacks, sickness, and more. Albanov kept a daily record of the journey, and it is on this diary that his lean book is based. One comes away from this unforgettable book filled with admiration for his resilience and resourcefulness.

Steve McGuirl (head of acquisitions)
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