Cold Burial: A True Story of Endurance and Disaster

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9780312302559: Cold Burial: A True Story of Endurance and Disaster
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Jack Hornby was determined to make himself as great a name as George Mallory, Robert Scott, and T.E. Lawrence---self-assured, aristocratic, handsome, his life’s ambition was to prove to his family and to the world that he could survive, even thrive, in one of the most inhospitable regions in the world. During the winter of 1926--1927, Hornby led a foolhardy expedition to the freezing Barren Lands of the Canadian Northwest Territories.

The two men he took with him on this doomed Arctic expedition were his courageous but naive eighteen-year-old cousin, Edgar Christian (a descendant of Fletcher Christian, of HMS Bounty fame), and an old friend, Harold Adlard.

After tremendous feats of courage, and colossal mistakes in judgment, all three men were to die—their frozen bodies discovered two years later when a Mounty patrol came across their cabin. Perhaps the most chilling discovery of all was a diary kept by Edgar, who managed to stash it away in the stove before he, too, succumbed to cold and starvation. An extraordinary document, Edgar’s diary recounts exactly what happened on that ill-fated expedition and why. Part suspense story, part adventure tale, Cold Burial is the haunting account of an ill-fated journey and the misplaced idealism that inspired it.

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Review:

He was known as Hornby of the North, the Brit who rejected his wealthy background for the frontier life of Canada's frozen north. In 1926, Jack Hornby, the living legend, took his young cousin, Edgar Christian, and Harold Adlard to the remotest part of the Barren Lands, accessible only by canoe and dog team. Except he didn't bring dogs, nor enough clothing or supplies. Instead, he staked their lives on the fifty-fifty chance of meeting with the great caribou migration. In his diary, the young Edgar wrote, "We live on our rifles and see nobody." Two years later, the diary would be found stashed in the stove near the skeletons of the three men. Powell-Williams has meticulously reconstructed this chilling and controversial adventure, considered by some a noble repetition of Mallory and Scott's expeditions, by others a pitiful folly, and by those who lived it, an expression of honor, camaraderie, and courage. --Lesley Reed

About the Author:

Clive Powell-Williams is a teacher in England. Fascinated by Edgar Christian’s diary, he spent nine years researching the story behind it.

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