The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition Info

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In August 1914, days before the outbreak of the First World War,
the renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty-seven set
sail for the South Atlantic in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize in
the history of exploration: the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic
continent. Weaving a treacherous path through the freezing Weddell Sea,
they had come within eighty-five miles of their destination when their
ship, Endurance, was trapped fast in the ice pack. Soon the ship was
crushed like matchwood, leaving the crew stranded on the floes. Their
ordeal would last for twenty months, and they would make two near-fatal
attempts to escape by open boat before their final
rescue.
Drawing upon previously unavailable sources, Caroline
Alexander gives us a riveting account of Shackleton's expedition--one of
history's greatest epics of survival. And she presents the astonishing
work of Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer whose visual record of
the adventure has never before been published comprehensively.
Together, text and image re-create the terrible beauty of Antarctica,
the awful destruction of the ship, and the crew's heroic daily struggle
to stay alive, a miracle achieved largely through Shackleton's inspiring
leadership.
The survival of Hurley's remarkable images is
scarcely less miraculous: The original glass plate negatives, from which
most of the book's illustrations are superbly reproduced, were stored
in hermetically sealed cannisters that survived months on the ice floes,
a week in an open boat on the polar seas, and several more months
buried in the snows of a rocky outcrop called Elephant Island. Finally
Hurley was forced to abandon his professional equipment; he captured
some of the most unforgettable images of the struggle with a pocket
camera and three rolls of Kodak film.
Published in conjunction
with the American Museum of Natural History's landmark exhibition on
Shackleton's journey, The Endurance thrillingly recounts one of
the last great adventures in the Heroic Age of exploration--perhaps the
greatest of them all.

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Reviews for The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition:

5

Aug 28, 2007

As a big fan of Alfred Lansing's version of the story, I had to read this one too. It is a worthy complement to Lansing's "Endurance" and contains a great deal more detail on some situations, interpersonal relations and the psychological impact on the men who went through this incredible experience - all stuff that Lansing tactfully omits. Added to that, there are many more of Frank Hurley's dazzling photographs. I would recommend reading this in addition to Lansing's work.
4

Sep 29, 2015

I love overcoming, travel and adventure stories and for that reason I can't avoid recommending this amazing story of Caroline Alexander. "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition," tells the real expedition of survival to Antarctica that Shackleton and his crew had to live after his ship was swallowed by the ice. It is a thrilling story full of adventures in which as a Pandora's box, comes to the surface every human emotion, in this case even hope. A hope that none of the crew I love overcoming, travel and adventure stories and for that reason I can't avoid recommending this amazing story of Caroline Alexander. "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition," tells the real expedition of survival to Antarctica that Shackleton and his crew had to live after his ship was swallowed by the ice. It is a thrilling story full of adventures in which as a Pandora's box, comes to the surface every human emotion, in this case even hope. A hope that none of the crew lost during the long and painful odyssey they had to suffer. I recommend this book to all lovers of survival, adventure and overcoming stories where reality sometimes is even superior to fiction.

Spanish version:
Amo las historias de superación, aventuras y de viaje no puedo evitar recomendaros este maravilloso relato de Caroline Alexander. Atrapados en el hielo narra la expedición real a la Antártida en que Shakelton y su tripulación tuvieron que sobrevivir después de que su barco fuera tragado por el hielo. Es un relato trepidante, lleno de aventuras en la que como una caja de pandora salen a flote todas las emociones humanas, en este caso incluso la esperanza. Una esperanza que ninguno de ellos perdió durante la penosa y larga odisea que tuvieron que sufrir. Recomiendo este libro a todos los amantes de los relatos de supervivencia, de aventuras y de superación en los que la realidad a veces, supera incluso la ficción. ...more
4

May 30, 2007

I. f'n adore these men. As far as I'm concerned I AM one of these men. (Only the godforsaken tundra I explore is urban U.S)

I don't want to hear any of your goddimmed complaints until you've been stranded on South Georgia Island living in wet clothing on a diet of seal, penguin then penguin and seal, looking forward to a period of immobilty so that nothing of your nerves picks up information of icy damp material touching raw, chafed, bruised skin...

And you know, all of that and they still held I. f'n adore these men. As far as I'm concerned I AM one of these men. (Only the godforsaken tundra I explore is urban U.S)

I don't want to hear any of your goddimmed complaints until you've been stranded on South Georgia Island living in wet clothing on a diet of seal, penguin then penguin and seal, looking forward to a period of immobilty so that nothing of your nerves picks up information of icy damp material touching raw, chafed, bruised skin...

And you know, all of that and they still held their 'spirits'. Because what is the frigging point of complaining, EVER? Even they, no ship, frozen, hungry, hurt recognizing their having made a choice about being where they are know its now STILL their choice about what to do with the situation they meet.

And then you hear people bitching about their feet hurt cause the impossible shoes they chose to wear to lap the mall are chafing the pedicure.

Contempt!!!

Not that I care that much. The book is excellent, a bit magaziney. ...more
4

Jun 21, 2018

On pg 3, Alexander quotes Shackleton giving a prophetic warning to the ship's skipper as he navigates worsening conditions: "What the ice gets, the ice keeps." It's an obvious spoiler to say right off that the ice got the ship and nearly kept the crew. The rest is Alexander's riveting account of this astonishing and harrowing story, one filled with impressive examples of leadership, ingenuity, misery, and, in the end, cussed endurance, physical and mental. ES also said, "Optimism is true moral On pg 3, Alexander quotes Shackleton giving a prophetic warning to the ship's skipper as he navigates worsening conditions: "What the ice gets, the ice keeps." It's an obvious spoiler to say right off that the ice got the ship and nearly kept the crew. The rest is Alexander's riveting account of this astonishing and harrowing story, one filled with impressive examples of leadership, ingenuity, misery, and, in the end, cussed endurance, physical and mental. ES also said, "Optimism is true moral courage," and while that might sound a bit grandiose to some ears, his dogged belief in it is probably what kept the crew alive. And he didn't just spout it, he lived it. He was constantly monitoring the spirits of his men, and organizing activities for entertainment, camaraderie, and comfort (relatively speaking, of course), even serving them meals in their tents after particularly bad events.

Alexander does this story justice with marvelous writing. Her descriptions of landscape, weather, stalking killer whales, and the booming, cracking sounds of buckling ice sheets and bursting ship planks are as vivid as any cinemax movie. She provides insightful and poignant portraits of the crew, their virtues and failings, the devoted friendships and simmering rivalries and resentments.

Her summation of an 800 mile journey in a small open boat, battered by frigid gale force storms, manned only by ES and two others, in a a desperate attempt to seek help best captures the heart of this story:

"Throughout their seventeen day ordeal, Worsley had never allowed his mind to relax and ceases its [navigational] calculations. Together the six men had maintained a ship routine, a structure of command, a schedule of watches. They had been mindful of their seamanship under the most severe circumstances a sailor would ever face. They had not merely endured; they had exhibited the grace of expertise under ungodly pressure."

I've read a few other books of extraordinary expeditions -- Captain Sir Richard Burton, Lost City of Z, Jungle of Stone -- and this is the first of which I found myself wondering at the end, "Was it worth it?" Alexander acknowledges that the original mission was a failure. Considering again ES's quote about the inexorable power of ice, I can't help but ask, "If you knew that coming in, what did you think your odds were of surviving?" While S's belief in optimism as moral courage is probably what saved his crew, is it not also the attitude that put them at risk in the first place, and to what end? Where do heroic courage and foolhardiness overlap? This is prissy cavilling, I understand, but I would've liked Alexander to explore this question, even if just briefly. Of course, the impulse to test oneself against the most challenging elements -- whether out of desire for glory or discovery and advancement in knowledge, or some irresistible existential need --underlies innumerable discoveries that have benefited humanity (or some of humanity more than others) in the long run, and I don't mean to suggest that all such journeys should always produce immediate and practical gains, but since Alexander does such a find job of plumbing the personalities of these admirable figures, yes, even, heroic, I just wish she'd dug a little deeper into examining the ambiguous side of the story. This niggling concern was enough to cost an otherwise excellent book a 1/2 star: 4 1/2 stars. ...more
4

Mar 06, 2013

As a big fan of Alfred Lansing's 1959 story, "Endurance," I was leery of another version, but I was drawn into this one because #1: my library doesn't have too many audio books to choose from, and #2: I was sucked in by the promise of new material from previously unavailable sources. An excellent retelling; this book is definitely worthwhile. Shackleton and his crew set forth on a mission to cross the Antarctic continent on foot. Their ship freezes solid in the pack-ice before they can even As a big fan of Alfred Lansing's 1959 story, "Endurance," I was leery of another version, but I was drawn into this one because #1: my library doesn't have too many audio books to choose from, and #2: I was sucked in by the promise of new material from previously unavailable sources. An excellent retelling; this book is definitely worthwhile. Shackleton and his crew set forth on a mission to cross the Antarctic continent on foot. Their ship freezes solid in the pack-ice before they can even begin the overland portion of the expedition. They winter over on the ship and await the thaw. Spring arrives, but the shifting floes crush the ship. And so begins their test of endurance. Shackleton believed that optimism is the true measure of moral courage. As the leader of a crew of 27 men, he sings (badly) in their sing-alongs, serves them tea in their tents, stands watch during their most desperate hours, and ultimately carries all of them to safety.

Added features in this edition include photographs taken by expedition member Frank Hurley (I missed those on audio). Also, a fascinating afterword tells how each of the expedition members ultimately died: in what year and under what circumstances. Most died relatively young; some of heart attacks while in their fifties; and one died of lung cancer -- I wondered about the effects of those tundra grass cigarettes... and all the huddling over blubber stoves.

I highly recommend this book; read it slowly and savor it. In my case I had to often rewind:)

...more
5

Nov 07, 2008

The exhibition catalog for the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History is more than a coffee-table book, this beautifully photo illustrated history of the Endurance expedition is a must read/must see for anyone interested in the history of polar exploration.

Alexander, who writes so ably and knowledgeably about polar exploration also recently penned The Race to the South Pole in National Geographic's Sept 2011 issue.

Illustrations and photos like this one by Herbert Ponting below from The exhibition catalog for the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History is more than a coffee-table book, this beautifully photo illustrated history of the Endurance expedition is a must read/must see for anyone interested in the history of polar exploration.

Alexander, who writes so ably and knowledgeably about polar exploration also recently penned The Race to the South Pole in National Geographic's Sept 2011 issue.

Illustrations and photos like this one by Herbert Ponting below from National Geographic collection, as well as many others from the National Library of Norway's Picture Collection & The Royal Geographical Society help Alexander bring the article's age of exploration back to life for today's readers:


Photograph by Herbert Ponting, National Geographic Stock

More about this photo at National Geographic

...more
4

Sep 23, 2012

I first read Capt. Frank Worsley's first-hand account of the expedition & was thoroughly fascinated by his telling of this amazing & actually horrifying ordeal in the Antarctic. Wanting to know more, I then began Shackleton's "South" as an e-book -without photos- & was wishing there were photos to show me what they were talking about. Then I chanced upon this book by Caroling Alexander at my neighborhood public library. Bullseye! In this book, Alexander has compiled all the pictures I first read Capt. Frank Worsley's first-hand account of the expedition & was thoroughly fascinated by his telling of this amazing & actually horrifying ordeal in the Antarctic. Wanting to know more, I then began Shackleton's "South" as an e-book -without photos- & was wishing there were photos to show me what they were talking about. Then I chanced upon this book by Caroling Alexander at my neighborhood public library. Bullseye! In this book, Alexander has compiled all the pictures taken by the ship's photographer (Hurley) during that legendary journey & they are worth ...gold. :)
The photos are reproduced exceptionally clear with good info about them & complementing these extraordinary photos, Alexander has integrated not only her well researched narrative but many comments gleaned from the diaries kept by some of the men on this harrowing expedition, making this a fine report. In fact, for an excellent overview of Shakleton's Antarctic Expedition this is the place to begin. It also is the place to go if you want the human interest aspect of the 28-man team. Alexander's book leaves you feeling you've gotten to meet the guys & even the animals. Of particular interest to the cat lover in me is that this book is dedicated to "Mrs. Chippy" the Tabby cat that the carpenter, McNish brought along obviously not thinking (wrongly) that this would be a trip from hell that his beloved cat would not survive. You gotta read it to find out that part of the story. Personally I still regard Worsley's book as better. Alexander's comes off to me as a report, whereas in Worsley's telling you EXPERIENCE the Antarctic! Evenso, this is a MUST SEE book filled with out-of-this world photos. Don't miss out, they are amazing. ...more
4

Aug 02, 2007

Although my favorite book on Shackleton's expedition is Alfred Lansing's account, this is also an excellent version. Focusing on the diverse members of the crew, Alexander creates vivid portraits of each man, revealing the camaraderie and toughness that undoubtedly contributed to their survival. The main narrative is interspersed with extracts from the crew's journals, and there is of course a portrayal of Shackleton himself, a truly gifted leader. As the author noted, "At the core of Although my favorite book on Shackleton's expedition is Alfred Lansing's account, this is also an excellent version. Focusing on the diverse members of the crew, Alexander creates vivid portraits of each man, revealing the camaraderie and toughness that undoubtedly contributed to their survival. The main narrative is interspersed with extracts from the crew's journals, and there is of course a portrayal of Shackleton himself, a truly gifted leader. As the author noted, "At the core of Shackleton's gift for leadership in crisis was...the fact that he elicited from his men strength and endurance they had never imagined they possessed; he ennobled them." ...more
4

Sep 02, 2007

I read Lansing's book on this same topic and I was hooked on the story. While this story didn't go into as many details as Lansing's book, it did provide a glimpse into the relationships and thoughts of many of the men. The author's dependence on diaries really gave a the reader a clue as to how everyone felt as they struggled to survive. I also like how the photographs were strewn throughout the book and humanized a lot of the men. A great retelling of an an amazing adventure!
4

Jan 03, 2019

In some ways not the best choice for a read aloud (to the 15 year-old) because we don't read consistently every night -- over the course of three months, we found it hard to keep track of who was who among the twenty-something crew members, and got hazy on other details as well. Still, it was rather fun to experience the extraordinary story with my son (who managed to be relatively stoic about the fate of Mrs. Chippy and the dogs), and the photographs are simply stunning.
5

Aug 04, 2017

There have been a lot of books on the Shackleton expedition - including Alfred Lansing's 1959 classic Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage - but this is an absolutely outstanding addition to that list, for at least two excellent reasons.

But first, let's just reconsider exactly what we're talking about here. Shackleton's story is not just one epic tale of survival - it's more like six separate and equally incredible tales linked back to back:

- Surviving the antarctic winter trapped aboard There have been a lot of books on the Shackleton expedition - including Alfred Lansing's 1959 classic Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage - but this is an absolutely outstanding addition to that list, for at least two excellent reasons.

But first, let's just reconsider exactly what we're talking about here. Shackleton's story is not just one epic tale of survival - it's more like six separate and equally incredible tales linked back to back:

- Surviving the antarctic winter trapped aboard the slowly-crushing Endurance, followed by five months out on the floating (and crumbling) ice making their way back to open water (15 months);
- The harrowing week-long journey of the entire crew in three small boats to Elephant Island;
- The epic tw0-week trip of Shackleton's six-man team from Elephant to South Georgia Island, crossing the Southern Ocean - the world's roughest seas - in "one of the world's greatest boat journey's ever accomplished" as well as one of the more prodigious feats of navigation;
- Shackleton's exhausted three-man crossing of South Georgia - a maze of unexplored mountains and glaciers - to reach a Norwegian whaling station and organize a rescue of his remaining crew...
- Who meanwhile were enduring four months stranded on Elephant Island's small and insanely-inhospitable rocks with no idea whether or not Shackleton was still alive;
- And most stressful for Shackleton, his three month logistic and political struggle to get a proper rescue boat that could make it through the mid-winter ice back to Elephant Island.

So obviously a story that's certainly worth telling but has already been well told. Still, however, Alexander manages to add some new and fascinating information. With the support of various survivors' families, she mines never-before used diaries to paint vivid portraits of many of the team's colorful characters, (hampered only slightly by the hard-to-differentiate names of the exclusively British/Australian/NZ crew - Wild, Worsley, Wordie, McIlroy, McLeod, McCarthy, McNish, Maclin, Marston, Holness, How, Hudson, Hussey, Hurley, Bakewell, Blackborow, Clark, Crean, etc.).

And second, as curator of Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Expedition, the American Museum of Natural History's 1999 exhibition (which I was lucky enough to attend, and which turned me on to the Shackleton legend in the first place), Alexander was able to include over 130 of Frank Hurley's photos in a beautifully-produced book that serves almost as an extended exhibition catalog.

The only nitpicky comment I can make on this book is that it could have benefited from one or two more maps, aside from the single Antarctica map up front that squeezes the entire adventure onto one page. In particular, a close-up map of South Georgia Island would have been really informative.

But otherwise, for anyone with even passing interest in classic adventure stories, this is just an insanely good book - can not over-recommend!

UPDATE: There is also an EXCELLENT 2000 documentary (95% on Rotten Tomatoes) based on this book and narrated by Liam Neeson, which features much of the film footage shot by Hurley as well as a number of additional photos. Can get it on Amazon, or your library may have it. ...more
4

Dec 27, 2012

Endurance is certainly the word that should be used to describe the way Shackleton and his men kept going in the most difficult of conditions.

He and a crew of 27 set sail in the ship 'Endurance' in August 1914 bound for the South Atlantic with the intention of being the first men to cross Antartica. Within 80 miles of their destination the ship became trapped in the pack ice and their endurance began. The 'Endurance' itself was a safe haven for them for some time but then it was crushed in the Endurance is certainly the word that should be used to describe the way Shackleton and his men kept going in the most difficult of conditions.

He and a crew of 27 set sail in the ship 'Endurance' in August 1914 bound for the South Atlantic with the intention of being the first men to cross Antartica. Within 80 miles of their destination the ship became trapped in the pack ice and their endurance began. The 'Endurance' itself was a safe haven for them for some time but then it was crushed in the grinding ice and the men had to quickly decamp onto the ice floes.

Frank Hurley was the photographer and it is his stunning photographs that graphically illustrate Caroline Alexander's gripping narrative, well laced with diary entries from some of the participants. The survival of so many photographs, negatives, both normal and glass plate, is a remarkable story of survival in itself but the fact that no men were lost as their awful situation dragged on and on was incredible.

Shackleton and some of the men made a run for help in one of the lifeboats; an astonishing sea journey followed and then, after landing on a rocky outcrop called Elephant Island, the trek continued overland for three of the men in an attempt to get rescuers.

After untold hardships they managed to reach a whaling station and the first part of the rescue took place as the Elephant Island men were taken back to the mainland. Then came the difficult task of getting back to the men stranded in the Antartic wastes. After many difficulties the rescue was successful and everyone was saved.

Caroline Alexander follows the remarkable tale up with pen pictures of each of the men and what happened to them after this adventure, which all through makes enthralling reading. ...more
4

Jun 18, 2008

I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by the author shortly after the book was released, and managed to get an autograph. I'm especially happy I did, as this book is a visceral experience. It was lovingly crafted and the publisher did not cut corners, particularly on the excellent grade paper. All the more important, because the reproduction of the photography is superb.

Here is one of the very, very few great adventures from the age before our communications became global, when mail still I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by the author shortly after the book was released, and managed to get an autograph. I'm especially happy I did, as this book is a visceral experience. It was lovingly crafted and the publisher did not cut corners, particularly on the excellent grade paper. All the more important, because the reproduction of the photography is superb.

Here is one of the very, very few great adventures from the age before our communications became global, when mail still traveled by ship, when we were just on the cusp of mastering our natural world. And yet unlike all those others, here there exists an astonishingly complete, comprehensive, expertly assembled photorecord along with numerous personal accounts and memoirs.

Alexander did an excellent job of culling together the rich resources available documenting the disastrous expedition to reach the South Pole, and bringing them together into a striking, cohesive narrative. Some of the shots, particularly those of the Endurance at night, are utterly haunting. If Indiana Jones was real, he would have learned his trade of Sir Earnest Shackleton.

It's a little publicized fact that a trio of Royal Marines, fully equipped with the best gear the late 20th Century could produce, and in prime shape, attempted the same crossing of Elephant Island that Shackleton's trio made so long ago, with only ordinary clothes on their backs, and nails from the Endurance's sides pressed through their thin soled shoes to give them extra traction on the snow. Shackleton's trio made it, and rescued the crew. The marines had to be evacuated by helicopter.

Now that's an adventure. ...more
4

Aug 04, 2011

I read through the night to finish it. At 3am I thought I would put it down and go to sleep, but how could I leave Shackleton, Crean, and Worsley just as they were setting out on foot in a desperate bid to get to the nearest whaling station on the island of South Georgia in order to get help for the men they had left behind. In a sheer act of will, they cross 22 miles of treacherous uncharted territory, traversing mountains, ice, and glaciers. It takes them 36 hours, with only short intervals of I read through the night to finish it. At 3am I thought I would put it down and go to sleep, but how could I leave Shackleton, Crean, and Worsley just as they were setting out on foot in a desperate bid to get to the nearest whaling station on the island of South Georgia in order to get help for the men they had left behind. In a sheer act of will, they cross 22 miles of treacherous uncharted territory, traversing mountains, ice, and glaciers. It takes them 36 hours, with only short intervals of rest; they knew they would die if they stopped. At one point Shackleton says, "We've got to take a risk," and they slide down a glacial ridge (a very dangerous thing to do - but they've got to get to lower altitudes fast or risk freezing once night falls). All this after having made their way by open boat in a horrific ocean crossing to the island after their ship, The Endurance, was slowly and inexorably crushed by the shifting pack ice of the Antarctic Ocean. Forced to abandon ship, Shackleton and his men had lived in tents on the great ice floes through the winter before finally taking to small open boats when the ice began breaking up (literally under their feet) in the spring. Terrifying and astonishing. Alexander tells the story in a terse, vivid prose style. The book includes unpublished photographs taken by the expedition's photographer Frank Hurley. The strangest and most stunning are of The Endurance locked in the ice. ...more
4

Jan 17, 2013

the only reason that i'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is because i'm comparing it to alfred lansing's version. that is the version to read for an intimate telling of the ordeal. alexander's version is amazing, but more of a bird's eye approach. i loved that she included so many background details. her story started before the ship set sail and ended long after the men were rescued - telling what happened to each man, individually, for the remainder of their lives. i also loved how many the only reason that i'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is because i'm comparing it to alfred lansing's version. that is the version to read for an intimate telling of the ordeal. alexander's version is amazing, but more of a bird's eye approach. i loved that she included so many background details. her story started before the ship set sail and ended long after the men were rescued - telling what happened to each man, individually, for the remainder of their lives. i also loved how many photos were included, as they gave me more of a feel for the perspective that these were real men going through a real experience. that this is more than just a story, it was part of history.
to echo from my alfred lansing review - as for shackleton, i think he was a very fool-hardy man to have ignored the obvious warnings and gotten them into the mess in the first place. but really, if you knew you were going to be in a life-or-death situation, he is the man i'd want as leader. ...more
3

Mar 18, 2015

The story is amazing. It's miraculous that anyone survived the crazy-extreme conditions these men faced, but the entire crew of the Endurance lived to tell the tale. What I enjoyed even more than the text were the beautiful black and white photos taken by a photographer on board, Frank Hurley. Miraculous too that these survived, considering everything they went through. Gorgeous, dramatic shots of the ship amidst the snow and ice floes, icy, stark, and in contrast, wonderfully warm portraits of The story is amazing. It's miraculous that anyone survived the crazy-extreme conditions these men faced, but the entire crew of the Endurance lived to tell the tale. What I enjoyed even more than the text were the beautiful black and white photos taken by a photographer on board, Frank Hurley. Miraculous too that these survived, considering everything they went through. Gorgeous, dramatic shots of the ship amidst the snow and ice floes, icy, stark, and in contrast, wonderfully warm portraits of the men -- and dogs. A stunning record of this experience. ...more
5

Jun 16, 2008

Saw this exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem when the book came out. The exhibit had many of the Frank Hurley photographs from the book along with artifacts, actual film, explanations etc.
This was a remarkable exhibition and one to remember when we think we have had a bad day....A great choice for adventuresome, inquisitive teenagers 14 years or older, or younger depending on their maturity. There are some gruesome images (starvation, eating seal meat etc) And, they are real, unlike Saw this exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem when the book came out. The exhibit had many of the Frank Hurley photographs from the book along with artifacts, actual film, explanations etc.
This was a remarkable exhibition and one to remember when we think we have had a bad day....A great choice for adventuresome, inquisitive teenagers 14 years or older, or younger depending on their maturity. There are some gruesome images (starvation, eating seal meat etc) And, they are real, unlike video games and horror movies. ...more
5

Oct 22, 2015

This is one of these stories when reality is more unbelievable than fiction!
4

Jun 23, 2014

The Endurance is a short, quickly-paced book about Ernest Shackleton’s failed expedition to cross the Antarctic. The book was originally intended as a companion volume to the American Museum of Natural History’s 2011-12 exhibition, but can be read and enjoyed on its own.

The 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition, lead and organized by Ernest Shackleton, has captivated scholars and adventurers alike. Even now, a century on, it remains one of the greatest stories of human survival. The journey of the The Endurance is a short, quickly-paced book about Ernest Shackleton’s failed expedition to cross the Antarctic. The book was originally intended as a companion volume to the American Museum of Natural History’s 2011-12 exhibition, but can be read and enjoyed on its own.

The 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition, lead and organized by Ernest Shackleton, has captivated scholars and adventurers alike. Even now, a century on, it remains one of the greatest stories of human survival. The journey of the 27-man crew is canonical and especially unusual for its extensive crew documentation: virtually all the members maintained detailed journals, and a filmmaker-photographer accompanied the expedition with the intention of making a documentary. Numerous books have been written about the expedition, including Shackleton’s own South, and Edward Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.

Caroline Alexander is a deft storyteller, efficiently and seamlessly merging excerpts from crew members’ diaries with photographs and independent research. She contextualizes the events of the expedition against the world arena, providing a rudimentary social and political framework upon which to build the story. She had access to sources previously unavailable to other researchers, and skillfully unifies diary entries and independent research. The result is a comprehensive, thoughtful, and thorough recollection of the expedition. With unexpected intimacy, Alexander reconstructs both the physical voyage and the burgeoning relationships between the men. She has an acute sense for the social dynamics on the ship, and is skilled in her candid nuanced portrayals of the individual men.

The story is, too, one of profound individual and shared loss: the destruction of the ship, Endurance, the abandonment of the intended goal, and the elimination of the final shreds of human comfort. In the spare, unforgiving Antarctic landscape, every minute comfort is integral morale – and the loss of any part is devastating. Dogs were brought on the expedition, with the intention of using them for sledging across the ice floes and tundra. After the expedition’s original intent is abandoned, the dogs are no longer needed (and become a burden: consuming valuable resources). Ultimately, the necessary action is to cull the sled dogs: in the crewmen’s journals, this event is detailed as one of the most difficult tasks ever undertaken. Similarly, Harry McNish’s beloved cat, Mrs. Chippy (brought onboard as an unofficial mascot and ship-pet), is also killed: the personal loss suffered never quite heals and alienates McNish from the other crew members.

With these events, especially, the remaining artifice of humanity in the Antarctic is destroyed: the affection and caretaking for the crew’s animals. The elimination of the dogs and cat is one of the most final and damning demonstrations of nature’s detached, dispassionate brutality in the expedition. And yet, it is a testament to the mental and physical fortitude of the men that despite the setbacks, losses, and constant dangers, they remain generally good-humored and civil, publicly and privately. The characteristic English stoicism is present as the men to recount their brief descents in madness and near-annihilation in the elements: diary entries are terse (though often dryly humorous) and even clinical.

The chronology is also notable: Shackleton and his men left in 1914 and were outside radio contact for the majority of World War I. As the War progressed, the public perception of heroism, too, shifted dramatically. At the outset, the individual, affluent English explorers gleaned tremendous public attention and support; the advent of World War I re-defined heroism as military members, serving as a force of benevolence overseas. The wealth and aristocracy that had cultivated Shackleton’s celebrity, then, became another relic of the Romanticized Colonial past – eroded by the wartime effort and displaced by new icons and values.

In many ways, the Shackleton expedition marked the end of the great Romantic period of English exploration (resurrected dramatically, if briefly, by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilary in their ascent of Everest). The mechanized destruction of World War I, its revolt against the dreamy, Romantic ambitions of the late 19th century, left little space for the decadence of financed exploration. Alexander notes the difficulty Shackleton had in procuring rescue vessels for his men, in part due to the Great War. The British government provided funding in 1914, but (by 1917) was consumed with the war effort and unable (and unwilling) to devote additional resources the expedition: the PR value of rescuing the men didn't offset the manpower and cost necessary for such action. National attentions were turned elsewhere: to faltering economies, the war effort, post-war reconstruction.

After dispersing from the Falkland Islands , most crew members immediately entered military or civilian service to their respective countries. The book’s final act is devoted to the post-expedition lives of the crewmembers, ranging from abject poverty to business ownership (with one crewmember, not warmly viewed by his cohorts, finding profession as a spy). The eclectic crew, unsurprisingly, went on to equally disparate lives.

As an aside: I made the mistake of reading The Endurance on Kindle: the text is interspersed with photographs (taken by crewmember Frank Hurley), the beauty and detail of which is lost on the Paperwhite’s screen. This is certainly a volume to read in physical form, as the included photographs add tremendously to the work’s depth and emotion. Others have remarked on the impeccable print quality of the physical book, and I strongly recommend seeking it out in lieu of an electronic copy.
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5

Jun 24, 2018

I read this book years ago before I ever joined Goodreads. I had worked several years in the Yukon and later a variety of assignmnets in the High Arctic including the Beaufort Sea. I was in no way an adventurer like Shackleton but my expereince in the high latitudes gave me a real appreciation of the extremes of Earth. And the beauty too. If you're ever going to buy one book about polar exploration I think this is the one. Not only is Caroline Alexander's text beautiful be the photos are just I read this book years ago before I ever joined Goodreads. I had worked several years in the Yukon and later a variety of assignmnets in the High Arctic including the Beaufort Sea. I was in no way an adventurer like Shackleton but my expereince in the high latitudes gave me a real appreciation of the extremes of Earth. And the beauty too. If you're ever going to buy one book about polar exploration I think this is the one. Not only is Caroline Alexander's text beautiful be the photos are just stunning. There is something about the black and white photos taken in this mysterious light that make each pic a gem. ...more
2

Apr 23, 2012

For pure, true adventure, there are few stories that match Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic. I have read two books on the subject and this is the lesser. The greater is Alfred Lansing's Endurance:Shackleton's Incredible Voyage.

The story is that Shackleton set out in a wooden ship to explore Antarctica, partly because the races to the North and South pole had been so successful in terms of fame, glory and eventually some money. The world watched this explorers with genuine hero worship. For pure, true adventure, there are few stories that match Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic. I have read two books on the subject and this is the lesser. The greater is Alfred Lansing's Endurance:Shackleton's Incredible Voyage.

The story is that Shackleton set out in a wooden ship to explore Antarctica, partly because the races to the North and South pole had been so successful in terms of fame, glory and eventually some money. The world watched this explorers with genuine hero worship. But the ship was caught in an ice floe and crushed, so the men and sled dogs disembarked, pulling two long boats and all the supplies they could carry. Some of the statistics elude me (I read this years ago), but it is fair to say it was about 30 mean who survive for two years on the ice. They had three blessings. One was in having a leader who was decisive, determined and, while not always adored by his crew, one who set his view unwaveringly on survival. The second blessing is that they had a navigator of uncommon skill. The third is our blessing: they had an expedition photographer who plates survived.

Shackleton finally, after slogging across a healthy piece of Antarctica, got the men to Elephant Island which was, as I remember, still well south of Tierra del Fuego. They ate the dogs, the rare seal and penguins, combating boredom, hunger, exposure, weather and trying not to combat each other. Shackleton, the navigator and perhaps two others finally set sail in a long boat across ice filled seas to try to sail and row to a tiny island some 400 miles distant where there was a whaling station. In a pure miracle of navigation they find the island. They landed on the wrong side. They must walk across a mountain range and hope to come to come out on the other side somewhere near the only humans --living in a tiny settlement -- for perhaps a thousand miles. All of the superlatives usually generously scattered on lesser tales are well deserved for this remarkable, amazing, miraculous, utterly impossible feat.

If you happen to read Alexander's book first, I doubt you will be disappointed. She tells the tale well. The photographs of the Endurance being crushed by the ice are works of art, beautifully balanced, fine grained, clear and stunning simply as photographs. But then you think, the man is taking pictures of the death of the one thing they were depending on to save their lives: the ship. The story is well told. But I read Lansing first, and he captures the sense of what it must have been like, especially in rowing across the Antarctic sea with ice water sloshing into the boat, storms, black waves...and having no certainty at all that the huge effort of men already weakened by exposure, inadequate food would mean anything more than drowning in a freezing sea. Neither Lansing or Alexander over romanticizes the efforts of the men or of their leader: these are fallible men just trying to survive which, in my view, makes the result all the more compelling.

I admit I don't read many true life adventure stories, but Shackleton's expedition is one worth becoming enthralled by, by either author. I would have given Alexander's book, written only a few years ago another star just for the trip. Lansing's book was written well before, and if I can find it to post it,I will give it 5 stars.

Oh, and the 'P.S.' to the whole thing: Shackleton's achievements were pretty much ignored. He and his crew did not know it, but WWI had broken out and the world's fascination with explorers had came to an abrupt end. ...more
5

May 10, 2007

This book is about the abortive trans-Antarctic expedition led by Ernest Shackleton between 1914-16. Caroline Alexander has written a superb, well-researched and absolutely gripping account of the journey and the subsequent epic survival of all the men against all odds once the ship sinks deep in the Weddel sea.
Shackeleton shows extraordinary leadership and courage in attempting an impossible 800-mile journey in the roughest oceans on a 22-foot boat to reach South Georgia island with five of This book is about the abortive trans-Antarctic expedition led by Ernest Shackleton between 1914-16. Caroline Alexander has written a superb, well-researched and absolutely gripping account of the journey and the subsequent epic survival of all the men against all odds once the ship sinks deep in the Weddel sea.
Shackeleton shows extraordinary leadership and courage in attempting an impossible 800-mile journey in the roughest oceans on a 22-foot boat to reach South Georgia island with five of his fellow men. In this, he is assisted by the tremendous navigating skills of Frank Worseley. Once safe, they go back to Elephant island to rescue the remainder of the crew.
The book reads like a thriller, in the mold of 'The Day of the Jackal'. Caroline Alexander shows great skills in bringing the events alive after almost 85 years. I found it very inspiring in terms of leadership and the never-say-die spirit. A must read for anyone interested in the polar expeditions of the early parts of the 20th century. ...more
5

Jan 29, 2015

I actually started reading a different version of this adventure - Endurance by Alfred Lansing - but switched to this version about the time the ship started to sink. I prefer Caroline Alexander's writing style (and more modern English) over Lansing's. Plus she included more pictures.

Five stars for the incredible story! I could not put it down. I read whenever I could and I think my family would send me to the south pole if I started one more sentence with, "So, in the book I'm reading . . . ." I actually started reading a different version of this adventure - Endurance by Alfred Lansing - but switched to this version about the time the ship started to sink. I prefer Caroline Alexander's writing style (and more modern English) over Lansing's. Plus she included more pictures.

Five stars for the incredible story! I could not put it down. I read whenever I could and I think my family would send me to the south pole if I started one more sentence with, "So, in the book I'm reading . . . ." The Endurance men were made of something much stronger than me. I know for a fact I would not have survived the journey. I am in awe of the men's resourcefulness, their will to carry on day after day, their ability to navigate with maps and rare sightings of the sun. I would have died for sure. ...more
5

May 06, 2012

Heather Stewart
Informational
Wow! I loved this book. This is the heroic tale of Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to the South Pole. His goal was to be the first to travel across the continent of Antarctica on foot. His team never made it to land because of the pack ice that built up around the coast. Their boat, the Endurance, became frozen into the ice with nowhere to go. It eventually sank and the twenty-eight member crew was forced to travel to an island where they knew there would be Heather Stewart
Informational
Wow! I loved this book. This is the heroic tale of Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to the South Pole. His goal was to be the first to travel across the continent of Antarctica on foot. His team never made it to land because of the pack ice that built up around the coast. Their boat, the Endurance, became frozen into the ice with nowhere to go. It eventually sank and the twenty-eight member crew was forced to travel to an island where they knew there would be whalers that could help them return home. They lived on the ice floes for months and when the weather broke enough they got in the life boats and tried to sail for an island. They made it to Elephant Island where there are no people so a crew of six set out to reach a whaling station. After 22 months in the Antarctic they were finally rescued. All survived.
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5

Jan 04, 2015

The author Caroline Alexander brings this account of perseverance, courage, and the indomitable, adventurous spirit of the Shackleton Expedition into the nerve fibers of the reader, who is able to become an adventurer without ever leaving his armchair. As I read the account, I felt humbled by the thought that I would never have survived the ordeal; indeed, with the increased pulse rate and nervous anxiety I experienced by simply reading of the trials and tribulations of the crew bringing me to The author Caroline Alexander brings this account of perseverance, courage, and the indomitable, adventurous spirit of the Shackleton Expedition into the nerve fibers of the reader, who is able to become an adventurer without ever leaving his armchair. As I read the account, I felt humbled by the thought that I would never have survived the ordeal; indeed, with the increased pulse rate and nervous anxiety I experienced by simply reading of the trials and tribulations of the crew bringing me to about the limit of my endurance, what would I have done had I actually been a member of that historic and famous ship so appropriately named "The Endurance?"

This is a great read with photographs of the event heightening the reader's feeling of being a part of the expedition. If you're in an adventurous frame of mind, pick yourself up a copy and let your pulse race as you read!!! ...more

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