TOM CREAN BOOK: “Sailor on Ice”

Praise for Sailor on Ice:

–from Ted B.: “Your detailed account of the 1911-13 saga congealed so much of my readings subsequent to the Quark trip, pulling the scattered incidents of the explorers together into a coherent whole, with much of the sticky glue of warm personal details. Much that you shared I have not encountered elsewhere. . . . A great hearty thanks for what you’ve given.”

–from Dr. Robert Swan, whose 1984 expedition “In the Footsteps of Scott” was the first to repeat Crean’s lonely journey after an interval of 73 years:

“I DO BELIEVE that you must have been part of those days in some way. . . .You have caught it with a passion and detail often the two do not make easy bed fellows. . . .I cannot express my regards for you more highly”

–from a review in the Journal of the James Caird Society (Number Six, March 2012) by Stephen Scott-Fawcett:

“The book reads like a novel. . . . in many ways, a passionate and imaginary account of life on the ocean wave and polar ice, as seen through the ‘eyes’ of Crean. Hirzel is very well-informed and his story is extraordinarily convincing. It has all the ingredients of an enthralling drama (the personalities; the long sea voyages; the drama of survival; and the tragedy, too). Familiar polar men come to ‘life’. The daily routine on board ship or in camp is tangible.. . . The only thing this clever book lacks is a soundtrack and the smells!. . . .For a good, ‘light’ read on Tom Crean look no further than Sailor on Ice.””

–from a review by Elgy Gillespie in her column “An Irishwoman’s Diary” in The Irish Times, December 1, 2012

“David Hirzel says: “My intention was never to write a formal biography of Crean – I’m a builder, not a biographer, and anyway Michael Smith had already given us one,” Hirzel protests. “Instead I just tried to tell the story of his Antarctic adventures through his own eyes – insofar as I can imagine, that is. Not with his voice, which I wouldn’t ever presume. Just knowing what he knows and facing his trials and triumphs as a man.” The result is a ripping read bursting with true-life adventure, but its strongest suit is empathy for the lives of common seamen a century ago.”

“WOW – I just had the opportunity to go back in time 100 years, to a time when men were men of honor, men of courage, men of conviction. . . . If you actually want to feel the struggle, despair, pain, fear and finally exuberance of men that embarked on a quest for glory, then I highly recommend “Tom Crean – Sailor on Ice.”  –R. Bender

“Tom Crean is the man you want to, “have your back”, in a tight spot. He is the essence of steadfast loyalty. His clear head, and quick reactions will leave you wishing he was your shipmate. When you finish the book, you will feel that he was. David Hirzel puts you on the ice with Tom. I’ll never complain of the cold again. Couldn’t put it down. Buy it.”  –Jack T.

“The book was wonderful and provided a style of writing that made you imagine you were right next to Tom Crean. You can feel the mental and physical rigors this man and the entire group went through. It was hard to put down and after finishing it have already given it to someone to enjoy it as well. A truly amazing read and I highly recommend it.”  –T. C.

“This is a beautifully written, historically rich book. Reading it has been an adventure in learning, traveling to an unfamiliar world and time through Hirzel’s vivid descriptions. Tom Crean met every challenge he was faced with in Antarctica, the story is captivating, full of detail. This book is inspiring in the best sense, it makes you want to explore the world, see new places and learn new things.”  –Karen

–From Robert Stephenson at“. . . .a good read written by someone who has a passion for the subject.”

–from Victor C.:  “I starting reading your book Sailor on Ice. It’s damned good!  The pacing is excellent and your description  of the travails of the Tera Nova (they have left NZ in route to Antarctica and got hit by a kings hell of a storm in a badly overloaded ship) is riveting.”

–from Monty S.:  “I finished your book.  Enjoyed it immensely.  It made me feel like I was really in the frigid Antarctica (or at least that you had been there).”

–from Nancy R.:   “Reading your Sailor on Ice was a real adventure…cold on the outside and warm on the inside. Your beautiful words brought me into the midst of the brave men in the desolate scene.  I couldn’t put it down.”

–from Bob B B :  “Finished the book, great read, you’re quite the wordsmith!! Almost got frostbite reading it.”

–from Charlie K.:  “I did finish your book, about a month ago, and am just now beginning to feel warm again.  It was very well written and an enjoyable read”

Sailor on Ice: Tom Crean with Scott in the Antarctic 1910-1913  by David Hirzel is now available from Terra Nova Press. To order click on the link “Buy Tom Crean Book” at the left of the page.

From the INTRODUCTION to Sailor on Ice:

Some men are born for the sea. They run away to it early in life, and it shapes their adolescence and young manhood, their view of themselves and the world, and everything that follows. Tom Crean was one such a man.

A sailor’s world is defined by the boundaries set by the rail of his ship. Beyond that rail, at an indeterminate distance, he sees but cannot reach the endless circle of the horizon dividing the blue water below from the blue sky above. It appears the same wherever in the world his ship may be, afloat on the heaving swells of any one of the seven seas. The sky and water may not always be blue—they may be gray, white with driving foam and fog, obscured by night, defined by stars, calm and flat as a mirror glass or risen in waves beaten by ceaseless gales. It is always so, changeless and ever changing, the same and never the same.

This is in part the allure of the sea, this placement of man against nature, overwhelmed by nature, defined by nature, and if he comes home to tell the tale, in some small measure triumphant against forces far greater than his limited power.

The call of the ice is not so different from the call of the sea. The horizon is much the same, the sky above as blue while the ice below has taken the place of water as far as the eye can see. The ice can assume many colors other than its anticipated white; descriptions of it are full of words like azure, lemon, topaz, aquamarine. But its apparent end is still a horizon always out of reach, its undulations and sudden motions as treacherous as a rogue wave to the unwary traveler. Some men are born with a love of this.

The sound of brash ice scraping along the side of the ship with a sound like broken glass shaken in a box is a lullaby to their ears, a familiar song they know long before the first time the hear it. The ever present knowledge that their ship might be gored by a floe and sink without a trace only serves to heighten their desire. “What the ice gets, the ice keeps.” Shackleton was referring to more than the doomed Endurance splintering under the irresistible pressure of sea-ice in motion.

Sir Ernest Shackleton had known the siren call of the hundreds of miles of the unbroken plain of the Barrier ice, the slow-motion rapids of the glacier, the bleak white desert of the plateau, the coldest place on earth. A host of other explorers had followed the call of the ice and come home with tales of wonder and suffering, as though the two experiences were somehow unalterably linked.

Tom Crean heard it too.

One thought on “TOM CREAN BOOK: “Sailor on Ice”

  1. David,

    It was nice to meet you at Donna’s and Chuck’s party. After seen your website, I am honored to know you.
    Good wishes with e-book,
    Richard Kreibich

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