By Hampton Sides
The age of exploration was drawing to a close, yet the mystery of the North Pole remained. Contemporaries described the pole as the `unattainable object of our dreams', and the urge to fill in this last great blank space on the map grew irresistible.In 1879 the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds and amid a frenzy of publicity. The ship and its crew, captained by the heroic George De Long, were destined for the uncharted waters of the Arctic.
But it wasn't long before the Jeannette was trapped in crushing pack ice. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies, facing a seemingly impossible trek across endless ice. Battling everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition fought madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.
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