Douglas & McIntyre
Island of the Blue Foxes

Book details:

October 2017
ISBN 978-1-77162-161-8
Hardcover
6" x 9"
288 pages
20 b&w photographs
History / Expeditions & Discoveries HIS051000
$34.95 CAD

Douglas & McIntyre

Island of the Blue Foxes

Disaster and Triumph on Bering's Great Voyage to Alaska

The story of the Great Northern Expedition, an epic tale of shipwreck and survival from the Age of Sail.


"A gripping account of 'the most extensive scientific expedition in history,' whose impressive results were certainly matched by its duration and miseries. A rapidly paced story of adventure..."

Kirkus Reviews

"Bown's readable history should elevate Bering into the top tier of explorers. For fans of adventure, exploration, and discovery."

Library Journal

The Great Northern Expedition was the most ambitious and well-financed scientific expedition in history. Lasting nearly ten years and spanning three continents, its geographical, cartographical and natural history accomplishments are on par with James Cook's famous voyages, the scientific circumnavigations of Alessandro Malaspina and Louis Antoine de Bougainville, and Lewis and Clark's cross-continental trek.

Conceived by Peter the Great in the 1730s and led by Danish mariner Vitus Bering, the enterprise involved a cavalcade of nearly three thousand scientists, secretaries, interpreters, artists, surveyors, naval officers, mariners, soldiers and labourers, all of whom had to be brought across five thousand miles of roadless forests, swamps and tundra, along with tools, supplies, libraries and scientific implements--as well as the clavichord belonging to Bering's wife, Anna. Scientific objectives included investigating flora, fauna and minerals as well as outlandish rumours about the Siberian peoples. After the expedition reached the eastern coast of Asia, Bering oversaw the construction of two ships, the St. Peter and St. Paul, and sailed for America with one hundred and fifty men, including the German naturalist and surgeon Georg Steller.

The voyage was plagued by ill fortune--a supply ship failed to arrive, officers quarrelled and the ships were separated in a storm. While St. Paul reached Alaska and reported back to Russia, Bering's ship, St. Peter, was wrecked on a desolate island in the Aleutian Chain inhabited by feral foxes. Island of the Blue Foxes is an incredible true-life adventure story, a story of personal and cultural animosities, unimaginable Gothic horrors and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

About the Author

Stephen R. Bown

Stephen R. Bown

Stephen R. Bown is the author of many critically acclaimed, award-winning titles, including most recently White Eskimo (Douglas & McIntyre, 2015), ...

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