By 1812, Jakob Walter, although only 24 years of age, had already served in two campaigns as a foot soldier for the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Jakob and many other conscripts in the Grande Armée were ordered to undertake the famously ill-fated march on Moscow, after which the devastated remnants of Napoleon's fighting force were left to return to their homes on their own power. Jakob's meticulous diary tells a tale of survival and perseverance during this nightmarish march against staggering odds.
Just north of Turkey lies the Black Sea, a roughly peanut-shaped saltwater lake the size about the size of Arizona and New Mexico combined. The Crimean Peninsula juts out into the Black Sea from the north, on which sits the port city of Sevastapol. In 1853, the weakening Ottoman Empire controlled the area known as the Crimea, but Russia, sensing weakness, sent troops into the region in July of that year. Britain and France, hoping to deny the growing Russian Empire the valuable port city, sent warships and troops to aid the Ottomans, signalling the beginning of the Crimean War.
In January of 1961, the Russian research base called Novolazarevskaya Station opened deep in the isolated regions of the frozen Antarctic ice cap. By the end of April, one of the 13 crewmen displayed unmistakable signs of appendicitis, so the base doctor, Leonid Rogozov, decided that he would have to conduct an emergency appendectomy on the patient, despite the poor conditions under which the surgery would be held. The main problem with this plan was besides being the only qualified medic on the base, the doctor was also the patient.