"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Iceberg Hermit

by Arthur Roth

I love me a good survival story.  Especially when its based on a true story.  The Iceberg Hermit by Arthur Roth is just such a story, although it is based solely on the account of Allan Gordon himself, a story that many of his friends and neighbors discounted as fiction at the time.  But it makes for an awfully good story, no matter whether you believe it true or not.  Its hard for me to imagine making this kind of thing up.  The author discusses some of these issues in the last chapter of the book, putting up theories as to how Gordon's account could have been true or not. 

Allan Gordon is a young man who is working on a whaling ship in the year 1757 when it hits an iceberg and Gordon is left the sole survivor, stuck on an iceberg with polar bears.  Part of the ship is lodged on the iceberg, which is part of the reason he survives.  He eventually finds a way to leave the iceberg and meets a group of people who he believes are a tribe of Norse Greenlanders.  After seven years away, he finally returns home, only to find how much he has changed, as well as those he loves.

As Roth says in the last chapter, "What is important is that we want to believe that the story is true.  We want to believe that man is capable of overcoming the dangers Allan overcame."  That's why I read, because each good book makes me want to believe that I can be the hero, that I can overcome.

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