This is Captain Bob Bartlett’s version of the controversial loss of the Karluk, the flagship of Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s Canadian arctic expedition of 1913-1916. Bartlett played Chopin’s Funeral March as the ice claimed his ship, then lead his crew to Wrangell Island where they awaited his return. Bartlett left them, walking some 700 miles across the frozen Arctic Ocean and down the coast of Siberia to get help.
Read by Frank Holden
Acting Direction Janis Spence
Recorded and produced by Janet Russell
The recording of Chopin's Funeral March was kindly provided from the Victrola collection of Bill Marshall.
Audio Book Reviews:
From Publishers Weekly:
In this tale of Arctic exploration, narrator Frank Holden turns in a masterful performance as Robert Bartlett, captain of the ill-fated Karluk , which sank off the Siberian coast in 1914. From the Newfoundland accent to the fortitude of a polar adventurer, Holden inhabits his subject. Some, including expedition leader Vilhjalmar Stefansson, later blamed Bartlett for the disaster that left 11 dead and dozens stranded on Russia's Wrangell Island. Defending his competency, Bartlett delivers painfully detailed accounts of food stores and physical conditions, especially during his 700-mile trek for help across the frozen ocean and Siberian coast. Holden handles this subtle defensive posturing with aplomb, keeping the tone even and matter-of-fact. Holden manages to render fresh Bartlett's descriptions of igloo building, dogsledding and polar bear hunting. Rattling adds nice atmospherics, too - the crunching of ice and snow bookends the tale. Bartlett played Chopin's Funeral March as the ice claimed his ship, and the music accompanies Holden's recounting of the event. The narration soars as the typically reserved Bartlett reunites with his rescued crew, an emotional breathiness imbuing Holden's voice. Based on the 1916 book.
From Robin McGrath, Northeast Avalon Times:
…. loaded to the gunnels with adventure, excitement, amusing anecdotes and details of adaptation and innovation that read like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe. For those hooked on the “Survival” fad, there can be no better account of a real-life gamble with life and death than The Last Voyage of the Karluk.
…Holden’s voice is deeper and more educated than Bartlett’s was and, thankfully, he does not attempt an imitation of Bartlett’s famous Pathe News style, so he is a real pleasure to listen to. His reading is intelligent, apparently effortless, and low-key without being boring…anybody who has even a passing interest in Arctic travel, Inuit culture, Newfoundland history, sailing, survival stories, dog sledding, adventure or a rollicking good tale, will find that after the first 20 minutes it is impossible to stop listening to The Last Voyage of the Karluk.
From Jennifer Niven, author of The Ice Master:
For years, I have been immersed in the story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-1914. Through my research, I have grown to know and love the staff and crew of its doomed flagship Karluk, most particularly its brave and somewhat enigmatic captain, Robert Bartlett. One of the world’s greatest ice masters, Bartlett enjoyed a highly esteemed career. He was revered by the men who worked on his ships, admired for his strength, honesty, and candor. He was a man’s man, yet he had a passion for poetry and music. He could be elusive and was intensely private. The dramatic and tragic story of the Karluk's last voyage, as told by Bartlett, is as no-nonsense and unapologetically matter-of-fact as its author. But it is also every bit the gripping, rousing suspense thriller.
In Rattling Books' The Last Voyage of the Karluk, Frank Holden does an exceptional job channeling Bartlett and capturing his frank, straightforward tone so expertly that I quickly believed I was listening to Bartlett himself. By the time the captain reunites with his shipwrecked crew—people he did not know if he would ever see alive again—his famous restraint breaks and his deep, unreserved emotion (courtesy of Holden) is heartbreaking and real. Thank you to Rattling Books and Frank Holden for retelling this important and inspiring tale, and for creating this moving, enthralling time machine, which transported me to another time and to another place with an extraordinary hero. As intimately as I know this story, I found myself completely swept away by it, as if I was hearing it for the first time.