Ada Blackjack
A true story of survival in the Arctic

There, surrounded by seas of ice, Ada Blackjack wrote the real epic of the North.
    — The World Magazine, October 30, 1927

Ada Blackjack was an unlikely hero — an unskilled 23-year-old Inuit woman with no knowledge of the world outside Nome, Alaska. Divorced, impoverished, and despondent, she had one focus in her life — to care for her sickly young son. In September 1921, in search of money and a husband, she signed on as seamstress for a top-secret expedition into the unknown Arctic.

It was controversial explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson who sent four young men and Ada Blackjack into the far North to desolate, uninhabited Wrangel Island. Only two of the men had set foot in the Arctic before. They took with them six months' worth of supplies on Stefansson's theory that this would be enough to sustain them for a year while they lived off the land itself. But as winter set in, they were struck by hardship and tragedy. As months went by and they began to starve, they were forced to ration their few remaining provisions. When three of the men made a desperate attempt to seek help, Ada was left to care for the fourth, who was too sick to travel. Soon after, she found herself totally alone.

Upon Ada's miraculous return after two years on the island, the international press heralded her as the female Robinson Crusoe. Journalists hunted her down, but she refused to talk to anyone about her harrowing experiences. Only on one occasion — after being accused of a horrible crime she did not commit — did she speak up for herself. All the while, she was tricked and exploited by those who should have been her champions.

Filled with exciting adventure and fascinating history, Ada Blackjack is a gripping and ultimately inspiring tale of a woman who survived a terrible time in the wild only to face a different but equally trying ordeal back in civilization.

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Praise

Compellingly researched and told with novelistic flair, Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic, by Jennifer Niven, is as brilliant and multifaceted as sunlight on new snow.Boston Globe

Niven vividly re-creates the frozen land, the struggles of the group, and Ada's ups and downs after her return. This exhilarating account is essential reading for adventure-story fans.Booklist (starred review)

One of the greatest Arctic (mis)adventure stories you've never heard of.The Wall Street Journal

A gripping page-turner of a read.San Diego Union Tribune

Engrossing.The Washington Post

Ada Blackjack is a winning account of the expedition and how one woman overcame enormous odds to survive. Niven does a superb job of re-creating harrowing events.The Christian Science Monitor

Enthralling and meticulous.Minneapolis Star Tribune

Niven's account is always alive to the human dimensions of this nearly forgotten tragedy.San Francisco Chronicle

A solid and suspenseful tale.Library Journal

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