Laura Waterman

Feb 28, 2020

Starvation Shore

University of Wisconsin Press 2019

purchase at bookshop.org Laura Waterman talks about her novel, Starvation Shore (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019), which relies upon memoirs, letters, and diaries to reconstruct the life of the Greely Party as it attempted to survive impossible conditions. Waterman is a climber, conservationist, and author who has written many books with her husband Guy Waterman about mountain history, climbing and environmental ethics. Her memoir Losing the Garden tells the story of her marriage to Guy and his decision in 2000 to end his life on the summit of Mt Lafayette. In the summer of 1881, the twenty-five men of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition watched their ship sail for home from Discovery Harbor, just 500 miles from the North Pole. Commanded by the ambitious yet underqualified Adolphus W. Greely, this crew represented the first U.S. attempt to engage in scientific study of the Arctic. The frigid landscape offered the promise of great adventure—and unknown dangers. It was an expedition Greely eagerly anticipated long before it began. Standing there on that sunny summer afternoon, no one could have known how much would go wrong. Drawing upon historic records, diaries, and letters of the men who inhabited the makeshift shelter they called Camp Clay, Laura Waterman reimagines the true story of polar explorers fighting for their lives and their sanity under dehumanizing conditions. This gripping, tragic tale of hunger, fear, and hope is told through the eyes of men at their worst—and most desperate—moments.
Michael F. Robinson is professor of history at Hillyer College, University of Hartford. He's the author of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and The Lost White Tribe: Scientists, Explorers, and the Theory that Changed a Continent (Oxford University Press, 2016). He's also the host of the podcast Time to Eat the Dogs, a weekly podcast about science, history, and exploration.

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Michael F. Robinson