The Music Hall to Continue 'Writers in the Loft' Series with 'IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE', 9/17

The Music Hall's Writers in the Loft series welcomes Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and editor-at-large of Outside magazine, America's leading adventure-travel magazine, on Wednesday, September 17, 2014. Sides will discuss IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE: The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeannette, his white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age. Through Sides' illuminating research and renowned storytelling, the book recounts one crew's harrowing voyage in the race to the Arctic Circle, offering a tragic parable of human determination in the face of an unforgiving landscape.

The 7pm event includes an author presentation and moderated Q+A, plus book signing and meet-and-greet. It will be held at the Music Hall Loft at 131 Congress Street, in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The evening moderator will be Geoffrey E. Clark, MD, a long-time friend of The Music Hall and a retired Portsmouth physician who became fascinated by the arctic and its exploration when he first camped there with his family 25 years ago.

Says Clark, "The story of the Jeanette Expedition of 1879 is one of the amazing episodes in the history of American arctic exploration which deserves to be far better known. Hampton Sides has authored the gripping telling of a true story of tragedy, heroism and disaster, which seems unimaginable today, putting it in the context of the times. I look forward to learning more about Sides' four-year project to uncover the details and why he believes, as I do, that attention should be paid to what happened in 'The Kingdom of Ice' 135 years ago."


In the late 19th Century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores.

James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever."

The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Less than an hour later, the Jeannette sank to the bottom, and the men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice-a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.

With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.


HAMPTON SIDES is editor-at-large for Outside magazine and the author of the international bestseller Ghost Soldiers, which was the basis for the 2005 Miramax film The Great Raid. Ghost Soldiers won the 2002 PEN USA Award for nonfiction and the 2002 Discover Award from Barnes & Noble. He also authored Americana and Stomping Grounds; his magazine work has twice been nominated for National Magazine Awards for feature writing.


Geoffrey E. Clark, MD, is a retired Portsmouth physician who has been fascinated by the arctic and its exploration ever since he took his family on a camping trip to the High Canadian arctic 25 years ago. There he learned of the ill-fated Greely Expedition of 1881-1884 and was able to visit the camp where the party stayed for two years 450 miles from the North Pole. In the interim he has researched the subject exhaustively, returned to the arctic several times, and has produced two documentary films, a book and an exhibit on this saga, which is related to Portsmouth's own history. He is a member of The Explorers Club, whose first president was Adolphus Greely, and has served on its archives committee to help preserve the many artifacts and records of the expedition in the club's collections.

Said Writers in the Loft Executive Producer Patricia Lynch, "We are thrilled that our own Dr. Clark has stepped forward to moderate this evening. As a celebrated explorer himself, he will be an authentic guide for the evening. It's also a perfect pairing having Hampton Sides visit this community well known for its passion for the sea and the great outdoors. It will be a night of incredible stories and rugged adventure, survival, joy and faith in one's self in the face of adversity."

The ticket package for Writers in the Loft: Hampton Sides on Wednesday, September 17, at 7pm is $43. In addition to a reserved seat, the package includes a copy of IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE (hardcover, $28.95), a bar beverage, and book signing meet-and-greet. Packages can be purchased through The Music Hall Box Office, located at 28 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth, over the phone at 603.436.2400, or online at

About Writers in the Loft - Akin to The Music Hall's anchor author series, Writers on a New England Stage, Writers in the Loft features well-known authors but in a smaller, more intimate space. The series brings audiences today's top authors, the best of fiction and nonfiction. The evening package includes a reserved seat and bar beverage, author presentation and Q+A, a copy of the book, and a meet-and-greet book signing with the featured writer.

About The Music Hall - The Music Hall is a performing arts center featuring curated entertainment from around the world in two theaters in its downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire campus - one, a landmark 1878 Victorian theater, designated an American Treasure for the Arts by the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures Program, the other the intimate Music Hall Loft around the corner, recently named "best performing arts venue" by Yankee Magazine and the recipient of the NH AIA award for design excellence. With acclaimed signature series like Writers on a New England Stage - a partnership between The Music Hall and New Hampshire Public Radio - and the Intimately Yours music series, we bring top authors and artists to both stages. Also, HD broadcasts from The Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre of London as well as extraordinary cinema fill both screens almost every night of the year. This dynamic arts center urges patrons to Explore + Learn via master classes, post film panel discussions, and matinees for children. An anchor cultural organization in this historic working seaport, The Music Hall is one of downtown Portsmouth's biggest employers and largest contributors to the regional economy: The Music Hall and its patrons contribute $7 million annually to the local economy through show and visitor related spending. Innovative in its outlook, the organization is community oriented and committed to making the Seacoast flourish. The Music Hall is a 501(c)3 nonprofit managed by a professional staff with the assistance of a volunteer board. Though global in the scope of its artists and programs, The Music Hall operates independently with the support of 3,000 members, 300 corporate partners and 58 community partners. Welcoming more than 100,000 patrons (including 20,000 children) each year from the tri-state area and beyond, The Music Hall is the region's center for the performing arts, literature and education...easy to get to, impossible to forget. An American Treasure celebrating 135 years. Web: | Twitter: @MusicHall | Facebook: /musichall | YouTube: /musichallnh.

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