Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration Info

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"Gripping and superb. This book will steal the night
from you." ―Laurence Gonzales, author of Deep
Survival

On January 17, 1913, alone and near
starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic
Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. The dogs were
gone. Now Mawson himself plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over
an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to
haul himself back to the surface.

Mawson was sometimes reduced to
crawling, and one night he discovered that the soles of his feet had
completely detached from the flesh beneath. On February 8, when he
staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first
teammate to reach him blurted out, "Which one are you?"

This
thrilling and almost unbelievable account establishes Mawson in his
rightful place as one of the greatest polar explorers and expedition
leaders. It is illustrated by a trove of Frank Hurley’s famous Antarctic
photographs, many never before published in the United States.

24
pages of illustrations

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration:

4

Sep 01, 2017

Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts is a detailed account to the Antarctic of 1913. A brief description of other trips and the men who went there is in here also. Then the details of little things I would never have thought about being trapped in a tent with other people and how an A personality and a B personality could really get on each others nerves and how they dealt with it. Small things, but magnified when you are trapped in a tent Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts is a detailed account to the Antarctic of 1913. A brief description of other trips and the men who went there is in here also. Then the details of little things I would never have thought about being trapped in a tent with other people and how an A personality and a B personality could really get on each others nerves and how they dealt with it. Small things, but magnified when you are trapped in a tent for hours. Survival techniques are discussed, in the tent and out, amazing things they did. I would die for sure because I would never have thought of these things. Other more unpleasant things they did to live, ugh! It is all very fascinating, especially if you love history or exploration. If you don't then this would be a long dull read for you. The amazing trek Mawson made, by himself after his team mates died, and he almost died, to go back to camp and hope they hadn't left him. It took 37 days alone, falling in deep abyss, no food, feet in near shreds, deep despair, no tools and starving. Some men had waited for him as the ship had just sailed off a couple of hours before. It is a very interesting read. ...more
5

Jan 25, 2014

I read more than 40 books last year and only gave two 5 star reviews so I don't give them out too often. Those who have read about the exploration of Antarctica are much more likely to have read about Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen, but this engaging story of Australian Douglas Mawson deserves equal attention.

The central story covers how after a tragic accident, Mawson returned 300 miles to base without adequate supplies and only enough food for 10 days. It took him nearly two months to return. I read more than 40 books last year and only gave two 5 star reviews so I don't give them out too often. Those who have read about the exploration of Antarctica are much more likely to have read about Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen, but this engaging story of Australian Douglas Mawson deserves equal attention.

The central story covers how after a tragic accident, Mawson returned 300 miles to base without adequate supplies and only enough food for 10 days. It took him nearly two months to return. No less an explorer than Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber of Mt. Everest called it "The greatest survival story in the history of exploration."

When you finish the book you may wonder if modern men could match the feats of Mawson and his companions. In the epilogue the book tells the story of a modern day adventurer who tried to recreate Mawson's desperate 300 mile journey. It was a worthy effort, but it only proved all the more the amazing accomplishment made by Mawson.

Highly recommended. ...more
2

Mar 12, 2013

The writing was engaging, and I understand the need to set this specific story in the context of Antarctic exploration as a whole. But I am 1/3 of the way through, and we've barely gotten to the expedition that is supposed to be the focus. Instead, we keep jumping back and forth in time in WAY too much detail to other expeditions. I've lost any sense of urgency, and the book has lost me as a reader before I've even gotten to what I assume is the good stuff--the gripping adventure I was expecting The writing was engaging, and I understand the need to set this specific story in the context of Antarctic exploration as a whole. But I am 1/3 of the way through, and we've barely gotten to the expedition that is supposed to be the focus. Instead, we keep jumping back and forth in time in WAY too much detail to other expeditions. I've lost any sense of urgency, and the book has lost me as a reader before I've even gotten to what I assume is the good stuff--the gripping adventure I was expecting when I picked this up. I wanted to like it, but I'm really disappointed in the pacing. ...more
4

Feb 19, 2013

Having been a long-time devourer of books on polar exploration, I was more than interested when I saw that a new book on the topic had been recently published. Alone on the Ice focuses on the story of Douglas Mawson, an Australian who led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) from December, 1911 to 1913. While Mawson's name might be recognizable from his time serving under Ernst Shackleton, his work was eclipsed largely due to the other Antarctic expeditions under way at the time, Having been a long-time devourer of books on polar exploration, I was more than interested when I saw that a new book on the topic had been recently published. Alone on the Ice focuses on the story of Douglas Mawson, an Australian who led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) from December, 1911 to 1913. While Mawson's name might be recognizable from his time serving under Ernst Shackleton, his work was eclipsed largely due to the other Antarctic expeditions under way at the time, especially the race between Amundsen and Scott to be the first to the south pole during what is now referred to as the "Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration."

Based on science, the expedition would prove arduous at best, but when tragedy strikes Mawson and his small sledging party of three, things go from bad to worse in a very short amount of time. Mawson's incredible feat of survival is documented here, but it is not the entire story. Author David Roberts has quite obviously put in a lot of time and energy as far as research; not only does he explore Mawson's background and what led him to the Antarctic in the first place; he also examines what it was like for the entire group of men (some of whom had never even seen snow before) living in such a forbidding environment, isolated from the rest of the world. He then provides an epilogue as well as notes and his sources.

Unlike other Antarctic explorers of the time, Mawson had no interest in reaching the South Pole; the AAE was primarily a scientific expedition and one of Mawson's intentions was to fill in some of the "terra incognita," comprising a "2,000-mile-long swath of ice and land" in the part of the continent due south of Australia. The expedition members left Australia on the Aurora and first reached Macquarie Island in December, 1911, where a five-person contingent was left behind to a man a wireless relay station to be used for communication with Mawson's group. Originally Mawson had planned to split the remaining men into three groups, but time, ice and weather permitted only two. Mawson and one group were dropped at Cape Denison, while the other, under the command of Frank Wild, were brought by the Aurora further west to a point on the Shackleton Ice Shelf.

Both groups had several scientific missions scheduled and split into mini-expedition parties; at Cape Denison, Mawson formed "the Far Eastern Party" sledging/exploration group to begin exploring the "terra incognita" which included himself, Swiss explorer Xavier Mertz and Belgrave Edward Sutton Ninnis, a lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers. Each party not remaining back at their respective bases had a firm return date so as not to miss the Aurora and the journey back to Australia. It was during Mawson's "Far Eastern Party" enterprise that tragedy struck: first in a crevasse where much of the group's supplies (including tent) were completely lost, and second, a slow, lingering death when the expedition was already down to only two people. These catastrophic events prompted a harrowing solo 300-mile journey back to Cape Denison in beyond-adverse conditions -- but would it be completed in time to eventually make it back home?

Alone on the Ice is an intriguing and compelling read that brings to life some of the hazards faced by the expedition members. Mr. Roberts details the tough conditions both on the ice and inside the huts where the men lived in probably the windiest place in all of Antarctica. While being outside had its own set of problems, sometimes the safety of the base hut was compromised as well. For example, one of the most interesting stories is that of Sidney Jeffryes, who served as the Cape Denison radio operator. Jeffryes was the only member of the crew who knew how to use the radio, but during an overwinter his mental condition started to deteriorate. While "polar madness" was a known malady at the time, Jeffryes' condition was unlike anything the rest of the crew had ever experienced -- he began to exhibit signs of paranoia, convinced that the men were talking about him or plotting to kill him, and worse.

It was Sir Edmund Hillary who labeled the survival story in this book "the greatest survival story in the history of exploration." I don't know if that's exactly true, but the book makes for some great reading. It also includes some fascinating photos by expedition member and Australian photographer Frank Hurley, whose picture of Shackleton's Endurance stuck in Antarctic ice is world famous.

If you are already interested in expeditions to Antarctica, especially during their heyday in the "Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration," this book is one that should not be missed. I have only two minor issues regarding Alone on the Ice: first there are two and only two maps throughout the entire volume, one of the Aurora's journeys between Australia and Antarctica, the other a very undetailed map of the Far Eastern Party's exploration trek. While reading about the various expeditions taken by the sledging parties, it would have been quite helpful to have maps of their respective forays to gain a better feel for where all of this action was taking place. When I wanted to know more about the locations mentioned by the author, I had to go online so as to get a better picture in my head mapwise and featurewise. Second, there are a few places where the author repeats himself in terms of one of his sources, a work known as Vixere Fortes, a memoir written by the son of one of the expedition members. Each memoir reference is accompanied by a statement along the lines that it was written by the son, and must be considered as unreliable. One time would have certainly sufficed; I take it as an error in editing. But heck -- these are such minor little niggles that they're almost negligible, considering how well written this book is overall. I certainly gained a lot of information that a) added to my understanding of Antarctic exploration and b) prompted me to start looking up other sources of information on Mawson and the AAE. As I've so often said, when a book can do both of those things, most especially encouraging me to dive further into a topic, then it's definitely one I can recommend.
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4

Apr 03, 2013

In 1911, a young university professor from Australia named Douglas Mawson, assembled a group of explorers and scientists to form the Australasian Antarctic Expedition whose mission was to map, photograph, and collect geologic samples from the continent of Antarctica. After arriving and building a base camp, they wintered there before beginning their expedition. Mawson divided the entire group into smaller teams to conduct the research and mapping. Mawson’s team of three men was fit and able. In 1911, a young university professor from Australia named Douglas Mawson, assembled a group of explorers and scientists to form the Australasian Antarctic Expedition whose mission was to map, photograph, and collect geologic samples from the continent of Antarctica. After arriving and building a base camp, they wintered there before beginning their expedition. Mawson divided the entire group into smaller teams to conduct the research and mapping. Mawson’s team of three men was fit and able. They set out on a journey south of the camp in November with a goal of returning by mid January. At the end of January, all team members had returned to base except Mawson’s team. On January 29, base camp members who had remained behind saw a figure approaching. It was Mawson. His two companions had suffered tragic fates. Mawson had walked more than 300 miles alone across barren, icy surface interspersed with hidden crevasses as well as bitter subzero temperatures and blizzard conditions. He was unrecognizable and near starvation. This is an astonishing story of perseverance, endurance, and survival that Sir Edmund Hillary called, “The greatest survival story in the history of exploration.” It’s one you won’t soon forget. ...more
4

Jun 12, 2017

This book conveys the true story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE), led by Australian explorer Douglas Mawson. Mawson was a key contributor to the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration; however, many people do not carry his name on the “tip of the tongue” as they do the names of Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen. While the title suggests this is the story of Mawson’s miraculous survival in the wake of the death of his two companions while on an exploratory excursion, it is, in fact, a This book conveys the true story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE), led by Australian explorer Douglas Mawson. Mawson was a key contributor to the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration; however, many people do not carry his name on the “tip of the tongue” as they do the names of Shackleton, Scott, and Amundsen. While the title suggests this is the story of Mawson’s miraculous survival in the wake of the death of his two companions while on an exploratory excursion, it is, in fact, a great deal more comprehensive. It provides the background and context for the AAE, including past experiences, preparations for the trip, and details about the lives of several of the participants. The author is adept at selecting passages from the diaries of the crew without getting carried away with extraneous details. We get a sense of Mawson as a scientist at heart, not concerned with the competitive race to the pole, but interested in mapping uncharted territory and conducting experiments to understand this frozen continent. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much. To me, the most engrossing chapters were related to the survival story. The other parts were interesting but understandably not quite as riveting. Recommended to readers interested in survival stories and the history of polar exploration. ...more
4

Oct 29, 2017

Roberts structured this book well. The first chapter covers the outward half of Mawson’s trek and ends with the expeditions first tragedy. We then jump back to Mawson’s experiences on Shakleton’s first Antarctic excursion and proceed up to the launch of the AAE. While Mawson’s story does not quite compare to Shackleton’s incredible story of his 1914-1917 expedition, it is undoubtedly an impressive tale. Mawson deserves more recognition than he currently receives. I’m a big fan of polar Roberts structured this book well. The first chapter covers the outward half of Mawson’s trek and ends with the expeditions first tragedy. We then jump back to Mawson’s experiences on Shakleton’s first Antarctic excursion and proceed up to the launch of the AAE. While Mawson’s story does not quite compare to Shackleton’s incredible story of his 1914-1917 expedition, it is undoubtedly an impressive tale. Mawson deserves more recognition than he currently receives. I’m a big fan of polar exploration stories so I may not be the most reliable judge, but I would call this an excellent read. ...more
2

May 20, 2014

I got sucked in by the "Greatest in history" subtitle. Roberts is a dirty rotten liar in that respect. A relatively interesting story? Sure. A harrowing tale? Not so much. Greatest ever? not by 700 Antarctic miles in winter. Delete the over-promising title and the underwhelming story may have rated an unenthusiastic three stars.


Survival is this case means walking across a dangerous cold landscape and making the decision to not turn back when you should, because eating your dogs is less I got sucked in by the "Greatest in history" subtitle. Roberts is a dirty rotten liar in that respect. A relatively interesting story? Sure. A harrowing tale? Not so much. Greatest ever? not by 700 Antarctic miles in winter. Delete the over-promising title and the underwhelming story may have rated an unenthusiastic three stars.


Survival is this case means walking across a dangerous cold landscape and making the decision to not turn back when you should, because eating your dogs is less distasteful than curbing your ambition (something the men were prepared for and had done on many occasions along the way) and hoping the get away vehicle makes some allowances for your suicidally intense aspirations. The "greatest survival story in the history of exploration" is actually just getting up most days on half rations or less and continuing to walk back the way you came and hoping someone will be there to save your sorry ass when you arrive. It takes up one chapter in the book. Actually two- because the author sucks you in during the first chapter, then pads the book with personal histories, expedition details, and returns later for the uninspiring payoff. Had he stuck to the story of survival it would hardly make a magazine article.

The padding is the one bright point. Like most books on early arctic explorers it is full of background on family life, acquiring funding and competition to be first among pretty ruthless men - it takes a stunningly strong backbone and appalling lack of compassion to strive to achieve firsts in an environment as inhospitable as the polar regions- fierce competition comes as no surprise. In adventure tales of the early 1900s human weakness was not an acceptable part of the story and dirty laundry was kept to yourself if you expected to be glorified upon your return. This book does a good job of humanizing the explorers through excerpts from surviving diaries.

The personal nature of the interactions is well documented and presented in an easy to read, even sided, well developed fashion that did connect me to the explorers and their lines of supply. The authors own editing - what belongs in the book and what is superfluous is well done and I commend him for his talent in that aspect. It is a fine line many fail to straddle, either boring the reader to tears or making connections that aren't sufficiently documented. Kudos to Roberts for superbly executing that facet.

If, like me, you are fascinated with people who do stuff that's probably going to get them killed in the coldest darkest flattest places for seemingly no reason except to prove their manhood this is another one for the shelf, but only after you're tired of reading Endurance for the fourth time.


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5

Jun 20, 2019

I was long overdue on reading a book about Douglas Mawson, Australian polar explorer during the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. My general knowledge of Mawson prior to reading the book was that while leading an Australian expedition, something happened that caused him to be alone, enduring unimaginable hardships to ultimately survive. (And I knew one physical thing that happened to him, so horrible that I won't mention it so it won't be stuck in your head forever if you don't want it to be. I I was long overdue on reading a book about Douglas Mawson, Australian polar explorer during the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. My general knowledge of Mawson prior to reading the book was that while leading an Australian expedition, something happened that caused him to be alone, enduring unimaginable hardships to ultimately survive. (And I knew one physical thing that happened to him, so horrible that I won't mention it so it won't be stuck in your head forever if you don't want it to be. I was nervous about even reading about that part.) Alone on the Ice tells not only the story of Mawson's incredible survival, but the story of the expedition.

The hardships that early polar explorers endured, even on the best, most comfortable days, are horrible. On sledging journeys, it's worse, and men are constantly fighting for survival as they run out of food and face the elements. Mawson was part of a three man sledging team when one sled crashes through a crevasse (which they were falling into all the time without serious injury, somehow) and takes with it one of the men, all their best dogs, and most of their food and supplies. The other two men continue; one of them dies along the journey home. Mawson survives. Amazing.

What I didn't expect from the story was the second over wintering in Antarctica, when one of the seven men in the hut has a psychotic break. I was up reading late at night and had to stop and finish in the morning because it was so disturbing. Stories of Antarctic exploration never fail to stretch so far into the extreme of human endurance that if they were fiction, people would never consider them realistic.

While Scott is often praised for his commitment to science, Mawson was south during the same time period with no goals for the South Pole. He was truly committed to science and exploration only, exploring and mapping land never before visited by humans. The book was in no way just a boring science lesson; it was all high adventure and struggle for survival at its harshest.

Ultimately these stories never get old for me. Of course there is overcoming unbelievable, seemingly unsurvivable odds. But I also love the details of polar life; what will they eat for Midwinter day this year! There are always takeaways of inspiration- (quoting the Senior Collection Manager of the Mawson Center) "His emphasis on work kept the team together during the terrible winters. By urging the men to go out of the hut in the strongest winds, he tried to keep them from succumbing to apathy and depression." You can bet "go out of the hut in the strongest winds" is one of my new mantras. ...more
4

Dec 28, 2018

I really believe that true adventure stories are much more riveting than fictional. This is a case in point. It is, primarily, the story of Australian Douglas Mawson and his experiences in exploring Antarctica during the early 1900's. He and his expeditions went through some very harrowing adventures. The title of the book is a little misleading because only a part of the book is about his story of travelling alone after the rest of his party died and his near death experiences trying to return I really believe that true adventure stories are much more riveting than fictional. This is a case in point. It is, primarily, the story of Australian Douglas Mawson and his experiences in exploring Antarctica during the early 1900's. He and his expeditions went through some very harrowing adventures. The title of the book is a little misleading because only a part of the book is about his story of travelling alone after the rest of his party died and his near death experiences trying to return to base camp. This part of the book is truly an incredible story but the majority of the book is about the adventures of some of the other men that were with him and their expeditions. This is a great book of true adventure and courage in the face of extreme hardship. ...more
3

Aug 08, 2019

I’m fascinated by how humans react in extreme situations. I also love stories of exploration. This book is a reminder that great accomplishments are built on the blood and sweat of those who came before. Shackleton and many others built on the work of Mawson. I feel like Mawson deserves to have his story told.

With all that said, I’d still recommend Endurance over this book. This just isn’t as well written and engaging.
4

Nov 16, 2018

Very impressive!

This is an incredible story of Australian geologist Douglas Mawson and his 100-mile solo hike back to base after a geological exploration expedition goes terribly wrong and both of his companions die. Although calling it a "hike" is a stretch, considering his bad health, gruelling weather conditions, food shortage and several serious near-death experiences. Mawson later ended up on Australia's 100$ bill.

A big part of the book (probably ~50%) is also about Heroic Age of Antarctic Very impressive!

This is an incredible story of Australian geologist Douglas Mawson and his 100-mile solo hike back to base after a geological exploration expedition goes terribly wrong and both of his companions die. Although calling it a "hike" is a stretch, considering his bad health, gruelling weather conditions, food shortage and several serious near-death experiences. Mawson later ended up on Australia's 100$ bill.

A big part of the book (probably ~50%) is also about Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration in general - about other expeditions, life in the hut and in the tent in general, and years/events before and after the expedition.

Made me want to explore the Antarctic explorers, so next in the line are "Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" and "Alone in Antarctica". ...more
5

Jun 24, 2017

Excellent adventure book. What the men endured on this exploration was unbelievable. Very good book that I found very interesting.
5

Feb 11, 2013

It's a toss up for me whether this or the classic Mawson's Will is the better book. While Lennard Bickel's book is probably slightly more suspenseful, it is short on detail at times. That is not the case here, Roberts doesn't skimp on the detail while still maintaining the suspense of the story. In some cases the details increase the awe that Mawson's achievement was, since even particular days consisted of superhuman accomplishments. Roberts also has much more about the psychologically creepy It's a toss up for me whether this or the classic Mawson's Will is the better book. While Lennard Bickel's book is probably slightly more suspenseful, it is short on detail at times. That is not the case here, Roberts doesn't skimp on the detail while still maintaining the suspense of the story. In some cases the details increase the awe that Mawson's achievement was, since even particular days consisted of superhuman accomplishments. Roberts also has much more about the psychologically creepy nightmare that was wintering over a second year (with a lunatic no less) in "the windiest place on earth," basically skipped except for a few paragraphs in the Bickel book.

To summarize in the TV Guide tradition, in 1912 Dr. Douglas Mawson and Dr. Xavier Mertz are 300 miles from home base in Antarctica when their companion Belgrave Ninnis disappears down a crevasse with his sledge, dog team (most of their dogs), and most of their food and gear, including their tent. With a week and a half of food left for the two men and only a few of the dogs, Mawson and Mertz have to cross 300 miles man hauling a sledge with what's left of their gear and get back to the coast to be picked up. What Mawson and Mertz will undergo, and hopefully overcome, has been called the "greatest human survival story ever." This was from Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Ernest Shackleton, no survival slouches either.

Mawson may also be the greatest polar explorer of the heroic era, but is always overshadowed by the better known Scott, Shackleton, and Amundsen. Every Australian knows of Mawson but few outside of Australia know of his feat and accomplishment.

The book has an extensive index (really valuable), maps, and a number of black and white photos from the heroic age of polar exploration. The book is extensively researched and Roberts sought out and had made available to him sources that Bickel hadn't. Roberts particularly calls into question Bickel's conclusion that Vitamin A poisoning from dog liver was the primary cause of Mertz's and Mawson's weakening, citing other factors such as exposure, scurvy, and just plain starvation as possibly equally to blame. We'll never know. ...more
4

Feb 16, 2013

I read Mawson's The Home Of The Blizzard: A True Story Of Antarctic Survival not too long ago, and the story of his lone march over 100 miles, after the deaths of both his companions and all their dogs, with very little food remaining and suffering from a lack of essential gear and a number of physical problems, while in a race to reach the coast before his relief ship sailed on to pick up another team, all the while trying (and at times failing) to avoid falling down the numerous crevasses in I read Mawson's The Home Of The Blizzard: A True Story Of Antarctic Survival not too long ago, and the story of his lone march over 100 miles, after the deaths of both his companions and all their dogs, with very little food remaining and suffering from a lack of essential gear and a number of physical problems, while in a race to reach the coast before his relief ship sailed on to pick up another team, all the while trying (and at times failing) to avoid falling down the numerous crevasses in his way...it's an amazing and horrifying story. But that's just a small part of The Home Of The Blizzard, in which the journeys of each of the other six parties are recorded as well. While I really enjoyed reading about the scope and range of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, the book as a whole was a little confusing, with so many people in so many different places at the same time, and so I looked forward to a different telling of it.

I think Roberts has done an excellent job here of making sense of the goals and scope of the expedition, and as he focuses mainly on Mawson's life previous to this trip to the Antarctic, as well as on Mawson's and Frank Wild's parties during the AAE, it's a much easier read than I found Mawson's own account to be. Actually, if you haven't read anything about Mawson before, this book is probably a really great place to start. I'm considering going back and rereading The Home of the Blizzard again now that I have a better picture of who was doing what when. Roberts also includes a number of photographs that also help illustrate who was who and what was what--I especially appreciated seeing photos of Ninnis and Mertz.

Anyway, if you're a fan of survival stories, the history of exploration, or Antarctica, this should be right up your alley! ...more
4

Jun 18, 2017

This was a riveting story and high on the detail. I now feel like I better understand polar exploration in this era and the challenges that these explorers had to face. For this particular story of Mawson's survival, all the detail and build up really brings into focus how difficult his feat was. The description of having to haul himself out of a crevasse was particularly vivid. This was a great read.
3

Mar 10, 2019

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My friend recommended me to read this book. He said that it was very good and that it was very interesting. I thought that I would give it a try. He made it seem that the book was action-packed, and I am always down to read and action-packed book.

"Alone on the Ice" was a story written by David Robert about the greatest survival story in the history of exploration. The book was about the Atlantic ice explorer Douglas Mawson. The book took place in the early 1900s before there were any phones. My friend recommended me to read this book. He said that it was very good and that it was very interesting. I thought that I would give it a try. He made it seem that the book was action-packed, and I am always down to read and action-packed book.

"Alone on the Ice" was a story written by David Robert about the greatest survival story in the history of exploration. The book was about the Atlantic ice explorer Douglas Mawson. The book took place in the early 1900s before there were any phones. Douglas Mawson was the leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition in 1913. The goal of his group was to conduct research on Antarctica. In the book, the mission started out fine until it became disastrous. Mawson, Ninnis, and Mertz decided to go exploring east of the base with the sled dogs. This turned disastrous for Mawson and his crew. When the sled was going over an ice bridge, the bridge collapsed. The crevasse below swallowed Ninnis, most of there supplies (Food, tent, and water), and most of the dogs. This left Mawson and Mertz and one dog. The mission was to survive in the harshest conditions known to man. They knew that they would have to arrive before the Aurora left to go return to Australia. Over time they were running out of food, so they had to eat the last dog. After a while, Mertz passed away due to weather exposure and starvation, but later on, they found out that he died from eating too much dog liver which can be poisonous. this left Mawson alone with little to no food and no shelter. Mawson got rid of all dead weight so he cut his sled in half and the only thing that remained on the sleigh was the geological samples that he had taken. Mawson ended up making it back to base but he was too late. The Aurora had already left so he had to stay in Antarctica for one more year. When he finally made it back home he was praised for his work.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was how interesting it was. I could never put the book down because you always wanted to know what was going to happen next. Throughout the book,you would never be able to tell what was going to happen to each person. Every moment in the book was a surprise. The way the author wrote the book makes you feel as though you are experiencing these horrific events alongside Douglas Mawson, which was very cool and intriguing.

One thing that I did not enjoy about this book was how long it was. There were some instances in the book where the author went on and on rather than just getting to the point. For example when the author was explaining how the goal of the mission was to get geological samples. He went on and one about the importance of them rather than just getting to the plot of the book. Other than that it was a great book that I really enjoyed.

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3

Mar 09, 2017

Personal Response
I really enjoyed reading this book because it was very exciting. It went from one thing to another and always had action. One thing I really enjoyed about this book was all of the diary entries in it wrote by the men. The diaries taught me exactly what the men were doing and struggling with. I could picture the scene of the book a lot better because of them. I think I may read more books by this author.

Plot
The plot of this book was very good. In the beginning the explorers set Personal Response
I really enjoyed reading this book because it was very exciting. It went from one thing to another and always had action. One thing I really enjoyed about this book was all of the diary entries in it wrote by the men. The diaries taught me exactly what the men were doing and struggling with. I could picture the scene of the book a lot better because of them. I think I may read more books by this author.

Plot
The plot of this book was very good. In the beginning the explorers set out on an expedition to try and make it to the South Pole. There were six men total on the expedition. There mission was to explore Antarctica to the South Pole. They also had to make it all the way there and back before the ship left Antarctica to take them back home. In the beginning of their trip the explorers were making good time but were hauling a lot of gear. They lost one dog before they got to the winter hut. After they left the hut they ran into many hardships. They started with three sleds and now they were down to two. They had to be very careful when crossing snow bridges, because if they fall through they could potentially become trapped and could die. When they were getting closer to the South Pole they split up into two groups. Mawson and his group went to the South Pole while the other three went to explore more volcanoes. Mawson had a very hard trip from their. They were only able to move a couple miles a day, but they did make it to the South Pole. Mawson knew when he was very close because of his compass and GPS. After taking many tests, he set off for the trip back. After a few days all of his dogs had died, which meant he had to walk. It was very hard walking through the snow. He eventually made it alone, but was very close to dying from starvation and dehydration. I'm so glad Mawson was able to make it, even though his partners had died. He also made the deadline of getting back on the ship before it left the port.

Characterization
In the beginning of the book, all of the explorers especially Mawson were feeling very good. They thought the trip would be fairly easy. Once they started traveling, bad things started happening and they knew that it was not going to be easy. Mawson was emotionally the toughest character and he never quit going. Because of Mawson's great leadership, the team was able to get very far. Mawson was the only one who made it back alive. By the end of the book, Mawson had changed a lot. He knew what he went through, and he was very badly injured from frostbite. I do not believe he will ever be the same, and I could definitely tell that he put his heart into his expeditions.

Setting
The setting of this book was in the early 1900’s in Antarctica. It happened between the coast of Antarctica and the South Pole. It took almost a year from the beginning of the expedition to the end. It was very terrible weather where they were, and it was a very cold climate.

Recommendation
I recommend this book to males between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. They would think it is interesting and would learn many things about exploration. Anyone who likes exploration would also enjoy reading this book. I think I may read more books by David Roberts. ...more
3

Jun 13, 2017

This book makes a liar out of me. I often find myself saying "I'd rather be too cold than too hot. You can always add more clothes." I don't think there is anywhere on earth as hot as the polar regions are cold.

Starts out disjointed, which I persevered through, thanks to the heads up from reviewers here. Author constructs a coherent narrative from multiple diaries, weaving in other sources as well. However, I didn't get a really good sense of the people, just their frostbite, testosterone, and This book makes a liar out of me. I often find myself saying "I'd rather be too cold than too hot. You can always add more clothes." I don't think there is anywhere on earth as hot as the polar regions are cold.

Starts out disjointed, which I persevered through, thanks to the heads up from reviewers here. Author constructs a coherent narrative from multiple diaries, weaving in other sources as well. However, I didn't get a really good sense of the people, just their frostbite, testosterone, and strife. That made me think why am I reading this? I've already read about frostbite in other freezer burn biographies. I don't need to read more about frostbite. I want to hear about the people. However, there was a new to me freaky frostbite remedy: zinc and cocaine under the eyelids. What? I would like to have heard more about sicknesses and remedies and science in general as well as the people's lives. Ok maybe I do have a prurient interest in frostbite after all.

It was sad about when lives were lost --peoples and their dogs. Dogs who were butchered to feed the dogs and people. Dogs who ate this meat before it even hit the ground. Other dogs who refused to eat this meat. Dogs who gave birth and then ate their babies. Oddly, deaths of the dogs was more disturbing to me than deaths of the explorers. Like I said, I didn't feel I even knew the people, other than professionally.

One man reveals himself through his daily journal.

It's incredible that this man Mawson lasted for so long. incredible endurance, which is the amazing thing to read about. A central question is why he lasted when the fit athlete with him died. The book shows his mental toughness and his undying desire to gather data, study it, in the name of science. Apparently his love of science saved him?

Blessings on him and these people who explore to learn. These conditions are so otherworldly it's almost like reading KSR s Red Mars. ...more
3

Oct 12, 2017

I liked the story but found the writing style a bit dry. The author handled the flow of events pretty well (there were multiple groups of explorers so it made it difficult to do a consecutive story) and if you like stories of early adventurers, you should read this book. I would have given it 4 stars except for the dryish writing style (I listened to this on audio so it made it a little easier than if I had been reading it).

For me some of the aspects I enjoyed the most were seeing explorers I I liked the story but found the writing style a bit dry. The author handled the flow of events pretty well (there were multiple groups of explorers so it made it difficult to do a consecutive story) and if you like stories of early adventurers, you should read this book. I would have given it 4 stars except for the dryish writing style (I listened to this on audio so it made it a little easier than if I had been reading it).

For me some of the aspects I enjoyed the most were seeing explorers I had read about in the Shackleton adventure (that takes place after this story chronologically) and reading about the complications of wintering in a secluded area while a member of your group slowly goes mad (and becomes a danger to themselves and the group). Although this last was not the main part of the story, it gave me the most to think about and I wished there had been more information on the situation. ...more
4

Nov 24, 2018

A good little book, filled with excitement and terror. My one complaint is that this book starts too far into the story and then goes back to the beginning, where the book really should start, so that whole first part is confusing. We follow around people we don't know doing things we don't understand because we have no background, because the book starts way too late. I hate that.
3

Jan 22, 2018

Roberts himself acknowledges that the narrative around this true story is a difficult one to organize, but I still had to constantly reference previous chapters for names, timelines, and relationships.

An interesting adventure/survival story, but my perpetual confusion and inability to become invested in any of the characters' outcomes made this a difficult one to really get into and enjoy.
4

Feb 03, 2018

I vacillated between wanting to be in the snowy, icy vastness of untouched and unexplored land and wanting to be a sideline cheerleader.
1

May 24, 2019

DNF

I just couldn’t get past 50 pages without losing interest - almost too many detail packed in, not all needed.
5

Jan 23, 2018

The Hunger of a Sound
Alone on the Ice recounts the story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) that set sail for the unexplored area of Antarctica below Australia in 1911, during the ‘Heroic age of Antarctic Exploration.’ While the Brit Robert Scott (BAE or Terra Nova Expedition) and the Norwegian Roald Amundsen (ASP Expedition) were racing to the South Pole, Douglas Mawson passed up a chance to participate in Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole, because he had this personal The Hunger of a Sound
Alone on the Ice recounts the story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) that set sail for the unexplored area of Antarctica below Australia in 1911, during the ‘Heroic age of Antarctic Exploration.’ While the Brit Robert Scott (BAE or Terra Nova Expedition) and the Norwegian Roald Amundsen (ASP Expedition) were racing to the South Pole, Douglas Mawson passed up a chance to participate in Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole, because he had this personal desire to explore the unknown area below his home country and make it more of a scientific survey. It turns out that section is far windier year round than earlier explored areas, because of the lack of mountains to shield from the gales.

Mawson had been a part of Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition from 1907-1909, where he, Alistair Mackay, and Edgeworth David were the first to climb to the rim of Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s (and Earth’s) southern-most volcano. David, Mackay, and Mawson had also been the first to trek to the magnetic South Pole (which is different from the Geographic South Pole) on that earlier expedition. But, being a geologist, he seemed pretty invested in the idea of exploring the mineral composition of Antarctica, as well as the surface features and mapping. Because of this, his expedition brought back a wealth of scientific information, more than any previous expedition. He also discovered the first meteorite found on the continent, a major find.

But, the highlight of the story was how as the group was subdivided into five sledging parties heading out from the main base, with Douglas Mawson taking Xavier Mertz and Lieutenant Belgrave Ninnis on his “Far Eastern Party.” On this trek across the ice, the very young Ninnis, age 24, plunged into a hidden crevasse, where his partners could not even find him. Some of the dogs, and a sled carrying most of their provisions, some of Mertz’ heavy clothing, and their tent went over with Ninnis. After this tragedy, Mertz became sick, due to their continuing trek on starving rations, eating dog liver & brains, and freezing with not enough clothes, etc. When he died also, Mawson had to continue trekking to base alone. His ordeal left him a ghost of his former self to the point that when he reappeared at base, they asked him which one was he.

Mawson was a self-motivated man, and seemed to have a penchant for driving the men who followed him, just as he drove himself. He seemed to remain positive and refrained from criticism or negativity most of the time, but he insisted on hard work. Men were often inspired by his drive and ability to reach his goals. His AAE has been described as “A well-coordinated frenzy of discovery... pursued in every possible direction.” They underwent extreme hardships, and one man even went mad from the wintering conditions. But, the beauty and vastness of it all seemed to inspire the men to persevere.

Mertz described the beauty of what would be named the Ninnis Glacier simply,
Everything in White!

About the vast sheets of ice as far as the eye could see, Mawson remarked in his diary,
This area seems to have been forgotten by God.

Sleeping in his tent at night he felt,
… loathe to sleep for the hunger of a sound.

On the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Tom Griffiths said in Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica:
The heroic era of Antarctic exploration was ‘heroic’ because it was anachronistic before it began, its goal was as abstract as a pole, its central figures were romantic, manly and flawed, its drama was moral (for it mattered not only what was done but how it was done), and its ideal was national honour. It was an early testing-ground for the racial virtues of new nations such as Norway and Australia, and it was the site of Europe’s last gasp before it tore itself apart in the Great War.

I was amazed to see the wide ranging participation of countries in Antarctic exploration. I knew it belonged to the international science community, but the achievements in exploration going all the way back have gone to many countries. Russia, for example, was the first to reach the Southern Pole of inaccessibility. That’s definitely a remarkable feat! I also found it striking that Lieutenant Belgrave Ninnis’ unit was later killed in WWI. As his Mother remarked, it seemed more fitting for a young man to die doing something he loved, than by being slaughtered in Flanders.

The book was well researched and written, and the Audible narration was great. I’ve already bought the Audible version of Mawson’s diary, “The Home of the Blizzard” to read next. This book is certainly top-quality reading material. I recommend it to anyone interested in accounts of exploration and/ or survival.
...more

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