Norris’s turn-of-the-century novel is loosely based on George Washington De Long’s U.S. North Polar expedition aboard the Jeannette (1879-81). It borrows freely from the locale (Wrangell Island and environs), the beset and crushed ship, the forced march on ice and pressure ridges, the heroic commander, the few survivors finally rescued. He adds the love interest, a strong-minded woman who resists the commander, succumbs, marries, and subtly convinces the hero that he is the one who must achieve the North Pole for the United States, knowing his safe return to be doubtful. He sails from New York in a new ship clearly modeled on Nansen’s Fram. Sources in Greely’s expedition and parallels with Robert E. Peary, who had already begun his North Pole quest and was in Northern Ellesmere land at the time of publication, are easily drawn.