THE thousands who followed the flight of General Nobile and felt the sudden silence of his craft, "The Italia," and traced day by day the rescue effort, knew somehow that there was a Russian boat called an ice-breaker and named "Krassin," which reminded many only of some wild drink, beating her way north among the floes. Perhaps there was in the minds of some a sense of incongruity that a Soviet ship, owned by a government which most people think is the enemy of mankind, should be on a mission of mercy.
And now an Italian correspondent, a passenger on that ship has given to the world, in good straightforward newspaper style, the story of that fearful trek northward. The Soviet enemies of humanity are revealed as men brave in the performance of the highest duty laid on man, and the alternate hope and despair that filled their hearts as they searched the dreary wastes, week after week, find an answer in the reader, so simply and graphically is the tale told.
The story of the catastrophe of the dirigible itself comes from the men rescued.
Stripped of all ornament, bare and ruthless, the stark tragedy of the crash and of the separation of the party of survivors after nerves and bodies had broken under the long vigile on the ice make a story that should hold romanticist and realist alike. The castaways themselves tell of the great white silence and its terror.
The book is a reporter's story, and its merit is that of all good reporters' stories--the fairness and accuracy of detail that is the living truth itself.