I don’t remember when the last time was that I found myself so inspired by one of man’s more heroic journeys. This book, The Ice Diaries, was written by Captain William R. Anderson who guided the USS Nautilus on it’s journey through the North Pole, the first underwater expedition of its kind. It is a story of bravery and determination by one of the most gentlemanly-like figures that one could possibly dream up!
This is the second book I’ve read recently on underwater explorations, the first being Titanic’s Last Secrets which I also reviewed here. I didn’t expect to like either of these books but am discovering a growing fondness for nautical explorations.
In this story, the skipper of the USS Nautilus, Anderson himself, details the journey of the first nuclear-powered submarine on its historic trip under the ice to reach the North Pole. At the time of its voyage, the Soviet Union and United States were in the middle of the Cold War and it was hugely significant that the U.S. Navy was able to beat the Russians in making such a journey. The historical impact has the potential of being lost on the modern reader but Anderson graciously explains why this journey was both important and inspirational to the United States when it was announced that they had in fact “pierced” the North Pole.
The way that Anderson relates this story makes it anything but dry history. His calm and steady personality weaves its way into the story. His quiet determination and resolve plays at the forefront of the facts. A particular aspect of the book that I not only liked but hugely appreciated was that they decided to scatter black & white photos of the people and historical artifacts involved in this case throughout the book. In most books of this nature you find a series of pictures printed on some glossy paper smack dab in the center of the book. Once you get to the pictures you’ve frequently forgotten who the characters are that you are looking at. Same is true when you’ve reached the end of the book. The pictures generally hold little significance. By including the pictures on the reading page, you are given a visual story as well as text which, in some cases, moved me to tears. Kudos to whoever made the decision to make the photographs more inclusive!
I honestly cannot recommend this book more highly. It’s more than just a book about the U.S. Navy, or the USS Nautical, and more than just about William Anderson. He makes a point throughout the whole book of honoring the courage and determination of the sailors that were under his command and gives them due respect. This was not just a journey about one man or one ship. It is the story about true grit, bravery and national pride. This book is a fitting tribute to what was accomplished in “Operation Sunshine”.
The book does have a bit of a surprise ending in relation to Anderson’s personal life but I’ll leave it for you, the reader, to discover. I’d encourage you to find a copy of this book and I imagine that you will quickly devour it. You can find out more information about The Ice Diaries on publisher Thomas Nelson’s website.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.