Tessa McMillan


Outstanding, Intermediate, Young Adult, Martin W. Sandler, Alaska, History, Whaling, Overland Relief Expedition

Document Type

Book Review


In September 1897, eight whaling ships get iced-in just off the northern coast of Alaska. Word spreads to the White House of the plight awaiting the 265 marooned whalers. President William McKinley orders the captain of the Bear, a ship in the Revenue Cutter Service, to send three officers overland to gather reindeer herds and drive the animals 1,000 miles to the whalers’ location near Point Barrow, Alaska. Three men are chosen for the mission: First Lieutenant David Jarvis oversees the Overland Relief Expedition, along with Dr. Samuel Call, and Second Lieutenant Ellsworth Bertholf. The icy ocean conditions cause the Bear to land the men 500 miles off course. But with fate of the 265 whalers in their hands, Jarvis, Call, and Bertholf make the treacherous 1,500 mile trek, obtain the needed reindeer, and arrive at Point Barrow all within three and a half months.