This book does not say much about Steller's early life. In fact, I couldn't even remember what Steller's first name was without looking at the title. It does tell a lot about the Bering's second voyage. This part is described in so much detail that I wonder how the author got so much information, especially about the relationships between the officers. The story is incredible. It is hard to believe that people could survive so much suffering, that is, the ones that did survive. Somehow in the book, it never sounded like Steller suffered as much as the other people on the ship. I don't know if this is from the way the book was written or if Steller was in better shape that the other people or if he was better able to care for himself. It did sound like he was very tough, both mentally and physically. I think I shared the frustration ascribed to Steller from not being able to learn much about Alaska because the early part of the book described the difficulty of getting to Kamchatka, setting up the expedition, and the terrible weather at sea. Then when the ship sent boats ashore, Steller was only permitted to go ashore for one day. It was not until the ship was shipwrecked that there was much description of what Alaska was like. The descriptions of the Steller sea cows were far beyond anything I had ever heard of them before.