In March 1914, two men began a perilous 700 mile walk across the barren ice fields of the Arctic Ocean to Siberia on a near-impossible rescue mission—to save the stranded crew and passengers of the ship Karluk, which had been crushed and sunk by ice. One of those making this trek was legendary captain Robert Abram Bartlett who, five years earlier, had navigated Robert Peary’s expedition to reach the North Pole. Bartlett’s epic 1914 journey, made with Claude Kataktovik, an Inuit crew member, was an attempt to rescue the Karluk’s survivors stranded on Wrangel Island. The Karluk’s sinking and its aftermath proved to be the most notable of Bartlett’s fifty voyages to the far north, a career made possible by the Inuit who imparted vital survival and navigational skills. Bartlett led the life of a celebrity and earned international fame, awards and accolades; he even appeared on a Wheaties cereal box. But he struggled to find peace. Based on research in four countries, Unchained Man explores the truth behind the myth of Robert Bartlett, while honouring the life of a central figure in international polar exploration and Arctic history.
About the author
Maura Hanrahan is the author, co-author, or editor of ten books in several genres, including creative non-fiction, history, and the acclaimed The Doryman (2003). Her writing has won awards in Canada, Britain, and the U.S. Born in Newfoundland, she is of English, Irish, French and Mi’kmaq ancestry. For about fourteen years, she has been a self-employed consultant on Aboriginal issues and has worked mostly with Aboriginal organizations on health, education, land claims, and cultural survival issues. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, the novelist Paul Butler. She has won several book awards including: the 2007 Good Read Novel Competition: Honourable Distinction for Sheilagh’s Brush (unpublished novel); and the 2005 History and Heritage Award for Tsunami: The Newfoundland Tidal Wave Disaster.