Porter Square Books is delighted to present Andrea Pitzer in conversation with Deborah Blum for the release of Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World, now out in paperback! This event is free and open to all, hosted virtually via Crowdcast. It will take place on Thursday, March 10 at 7pm.
Register for the Crowdcast here: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/icebound
In the bestselling tradition of Hampton Sides’s In the Kingdom of Ice, a “gripping adventure tale” (The Boston Globe) recounting Dutch polar explorer William Barents’ 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 16th-century Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew of sixteen, who ventured farther north than any Europeans before and, on their third polar exploration, 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. At the story’s center is William Barents, one of the 16th century’s greatest navigators whose larger-than-life ambitions and obsessive quest to chart a path through the deepest, most remote regions of the Arctic ended in both tragedy and glory. Journalist Pitzer did extensive research, learning how to use four-hundred-year-old navigation equipment, setting out on three Arctic expeditions to retrace Barents’s steps, and visiting replicas of Barents’s ship and cabin.
“A resonant meditation on human ingenuity, resilience, and hope” (The New Yorker), Pitzer’s reenactment of Barents’s ill-fated journey shows us how the human body can function at twenty degrees below, the history of mutiny, the art of celestial navigation, and the intricacies of building shelters. But above all, it gives us a firsthand glimpse into the true nature of courage.
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.
Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer-prizewinning American science journalist, columnist, and author of six books, including The Poison Squad (2018), and The Poisoner’s Handbook (2010). She is a former president of the National Association of Science Writers, was a member of the governing board of the World Federation of Science Writers, and currently serves on the board of advisors of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. In 2015, Blum was selected as the fourth director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT and that same year became founding publisher of Undark.