Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition
Where: The Explorers Club
46 E. 70th St.
212-628-8383 Price: $25
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Public Lecture Series with Paul Watson
On September 3, a long-lost ship was discovered in pristine condition at the bottom of an Arctic bay, 168 years after it made its doomed Northwest Passage attempt. This momentous discovery was the latest astonishing episode in a saga that began with the 1845 expedition of Sir John Franklin and the crew of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Paul Watson is the expert on the entirety of this saga; he was even on the icebreaker leading the mission that discovered the Erebus in 2014 and he broke the news of the discovery of the Terror in September. Norton is proud to be publishing Watson’s definitive history, ICE GHOSTS: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition (W. W. Norton & Company), a spellbinding account that takes readers from the fascinating true story of the 1845 expedition to the modern tale behind the incredible recent discoveries of its shipwrecks.
Spanning nearly 200 years, ICE GHOSTS is a fast-paced detective story about Western science, Native American beliefs, and the irrepressible spirit of exploration and discovery. Watson masterfully weaves together history and contemporary reporting in a full, epic account of these events: Sir John Franklin and his crew of 128 setting off in search of the fabled Northwest Passage only to get stuck in ice hundreds of miles from the nearest outpost of Western civilization; the decades of searching that turned up only rumors of cannibalism, a trail of sailors’ relics and their bones; and the league of scientists, researchers, divers, and local Inuit who hunted for the ships and, at long last, made discoveries for the ages.
Watson has had a long, incredibly accomplished career as a journalist—he worked as a war reporter for more than twenty years and won the Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of a U.S. soldier’s body being dragged through a Mogadishu street after a Black Hawk military helicopter was shot down over Somalia in 1993. He served as Asia bureau chief and Balkans bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, and was the Arctic correspondent for the Toronto Star, covering the geopolitics of the region, including in a visit to Russia’s north for a series of stories on Putin’s strategic Arctic push. Watson’s even been the subject of an opera (The War Reporter, staged to critical acclaim in New York in 2014) and a play (Body of an American, which won the PEN Award for Drama).