The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure
By Martin W. Sandler
Candlewick Press, 2012. 163 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction
In September 1897, winter came early in Alaska, and eight whaling ships became stuck in the rapidly-forming ice at the northern tip of Alaska, leaving 265 whalers trapped with few supplies and little food. When word got out about their predicament, none other than U.S. President William McKinley ordered that they be rescued and provided the outline of just how that was to be undertaken: three men were to land on the Alaskan coast--as far north as they could go--and then cross the 1700 miles to the stranded men, along the way convincing two reindeer herders to let them buy their herds on credit and help bring the deer across mountains and ice through the blizzards of the Alaskan winter to the stranded men. Although the daring rescue seemed impossible, men volunteered to be the rescuers and set off to face the brutal conditions and harsh terrain in order to try to save their fellowmen.
This real life adventure is a must-read for anyone interested in fascinating but overlooked stories from history. It's made all the better by the fact that Sandler has included photographs of the expedition. Readers will enjoy following along as the three rescuers, and the Alaskans willing to help in their journey, race against time and the weather to make it to the stranded men in time.