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About The Book

'An epic tale of exploration, daring and tragedy told by a fine historian - and a wonderful writer' Peter Frankopan, author of the bestselling The Silk Roads.

'The name of William Barents isn’t that familiar to us these days…but this enthralling, elemental and literally spine-chilling epic of courage and endurance should change all that’ Roger Alton, Daily Mail

‘Gripping … One of the great epics of human endurance’ – Mail on Sunday

A riveting tale of Dutch polar explorer William Barents and his three harrowing Arctic expeditions – the last of which resulted in a relentlessly challenging year-long fight for survival.

The human story has always been one of perseverance – often against remarkable odds. The most astonishing survival tale of all might be that of sixteenth-century Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew, who ventured further north than any Europeans before and, on their third polar expedition, lost their ship off the frozen coast of Nova Zembla to unforgiving ice. The men would spend the next year fighting off ravenous polar bears, gnawing hunger and endless winter.

In Icebound, Andrea Pitzer masterfully combines a gripping tale of survival with a sweeping history of the great Age of Exploration – a time of hope, adventure and seemingly unlimited geographic frontiers.

About The Author

Courtesy of Jennifer Burns

Andrea Pitzer is a journalist whose writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Outside, The Daily Beast, Vox, and Slate, among other publications. She has authored two previous books, One Long Night and The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov—both critically acclaimed. She received an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1994, and later studied at MIT and Harvard as an affiliate of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism. She grew up in West Virginia and currently lives with her family near Washington, DC. Icebound is her most recent work.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (December 9, 2021)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781471182761

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Raves and Reviews

'Narratives of frozen beards in polar hinterlands never lose their appeal. Most of the good stories have been told, but in Icebound Andrea Pitzer fills a gap, at least for the popular reader in English, with the story of the 16th-century Dutch mariner William Barents... Pitzer’s prose is robust, clear and sometimes elegant.'

– Sara Wheeler, Spectator

'For the 21st-century reader who’s seen one too many photos of emaciated polar bears loping across melting permafrost, Icebound can read a little like paradise really, really lost... Pitzer writes with care about the Arctic landscape Barents encountered... Icebound is a reminder that there was once a time when things were unknown.'

– New York Times

'A fascinating modern telling of Barents’s expeditions...Pitzer presents a compelling narrative situated in the context of Dutch imperial ambition'

– Michael O'Donnell, Wall Street Journal

'Once Barents heads for the northern tip of Nova Zembla for the third time in May 1596, the story becomes dramatic, and dire... Still, the journey is filled with wonders: optical phenomena and mysteries unravelled, such as where European songbirds go each summer. Ms Pitzer’s descriptions of the region sing.'

– Economist

'A gripping adventure tale that deserves an honoured place in the long bookshelf of volumes dealing with Arctic shipwrecks, winter ordeals, and survival struggles.'

– David M.Shribman, Boston Globe

'Gripping...One of the great epics of human endurance'

– Simon Griffith, Mail on Sunday

'Andrea Pitzer's worthy and superb account keeps us enthralled to the last chilling word'

– Dean King, Author of Skeletons of the Zahara

'Engrossing...Andrea Pitzer brigns Barents' three harrowing expeditions to vivid life'

– Hampton Sides, Author of In the Kingdom of Ice

'A masterwork of narrative non-fiction'

– Mitchell Zuckoff, Author of Frozen in Time

'Icebound deserves a place beside such classics as Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage and Roland Huntford's The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen - Their Race to the South Pole'

– Booklist

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