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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The…

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of… (original 1998; edition 2000)

by Jennifer Armstrong

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Title:Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance
Authors:Jennifer Armstrong
Info:Crown Books for Young Readers (2000), Edition: 1st Pbk. Ed, Paperback, 144 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, biography, 900s, pps 144, 6 - 12, history

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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong (1998)




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I cannot say that I liked this book, but I also cannot say that it was through any fault of the author; in fact, Jennifer Armstrong's powers of description put me in a place, as a reader, that I didn't want to be. She stranded me in an Antarctic no man's land with 28 brave, capable, scared, and desolate men. Although the book's cover gives away the fact the the men all make it out alive, it is so hard to believe that one almost forgets that they make it. The journey starts out harrowing enough in their ship, but when the ship gets crunched up between ice floes and they have to camp out in the elements it is almost unimaginable what the men survived. I say almost because Armstrong allows the reader to imagine it quite well, in fact forces the reader to, with her detailed descriptions and agile storytelling. She fills in the blanks just right. For instance, in the chapter "Mutiny," Armstrong prefaces the story of how Shackleton dealt with some resistance to his leadership with the story of a famous mutiny of an expedition lead by Sir John Franklin, and the "insanity, desertion, [and] cannibalism" that took place (62). She mentions how there was a book pertaining to a rescue mission for those men, and that the men of the Endurance would have known the stories of the ill-fated crew. This sets up the suspense perfectly, because we realize what could be at stake if a mutiny did indeed take place, and we also get insight into what Shackleton may have been thinking when he tried to avert it.

With respect to the detail that Armstrong includes,she describes all aspects of the natural world around the men, many details of their actions and challenges, and even their thoughts and fears when possible. This book feels like a complete story. Armstrong clearly researched this book very thoroughly, and the photographs add so much as well. They fill in the rest of the blanks. I lay curled up in my comfortable chair reading this book, but feeling none of the comforts of my room temperature cozy home. My toes ached from frostbite. I was afraid and disgusted and hopeful and on edge. I waited for killer whales to find me and despaired at being away from civilization for so long. By the end of the book I was spent. It was almost too much. I wanted to stop reading about halfway through, as every harrowing detail of the journey is told here, and readers, it turns out, can get PTSD from a book. So Armstrong did a wonderful job; she took me there. I just didn't want to go. ( )
  Melissalorio | Apr 14, 2014 |
SHIPWRECK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD by Jennifer Armstrong is an amazing story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew on the Endurance Expedition from 1914-1916 to Antarctica. The book has amazing pictures, maps showing the expedition and diagrams of the Endurance. There are pictures of all of the members of the crew including the stowaway, Percy Blackborrow. The detail and explanation of the harrowing journey helps the readers feel they are with the crew. The explanation of navigating was detailed and amazing when realizing this was in 1914. This is a book I would have difficulty using the entire book in my Religion classroom, but I feel it could be used in a classroom. It is a perfect book for integrating several subjects. With that in mind, I could use the aspect of when Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean were traveling across South Georgia Island and kept feeling the presence of a fourth person, from page 110. This would provide an opportunity to discuss if students felt the men were hallucinating or was it a spiritual presence. Surely discussing the men's determination and perseverance and then talking about times we have had to use those traits would be beneficial for all. Teachers collaborating on such a theme could develop even more aspects to integrate. ( )
  dscalia | Apr 13, 2014 |
I'm honestly not a big fan of this book. It did not grasped my attention in the first few chapters and I found it to be just a little dull. It is informational and explains what happen to Shackleton and his men on their journey to cross Antarctica. It tells about what they did while stuck in the middle of ice, what animals they encountered, how they kept themselves busy and fed. The pictures, however, were good and gave the reader a real look into what these men faced during their journey. The chapter titles are somewhat intriguing as well. I would most likely not use this book in my high school history class. ( )
  ALGuerra | Apr 13, 2014 |
This book was incredibly interesting. Compared to the texts that were read this semester, this book seems to have the strongest narrative voice. You can hear the author's reverence for Shackleton as the story goes on. I especially enjoyed the pictures since they helped give me a visual of what was going on. I often found myself falling into the habit of imagining Elephant Island and South Africa as tropical places. So the pictures helped get me back to the reality of the situation. The maps at the beginning of the book and of Shackleton's journey to the whaling camp helped clarify some of the descriptions that were given about the journeys. I did find myself lost at one point when they were on the ice sheet and it kept drifting in different directions because of the wind. The photo of the Endurance being stuck in ice was especially dramatic. You got a sense of the affect that the "pressure" had on the boat.

My only complaint is that sometimes that chapter titles seemed to blow the events out of proportion. For example, the chapter entitled "Mutiny" was in my opinion hyperbolic. There was a small problem with people being unhappy with the conditions and a misconception about the contract that they signed, but I don't think it bordered on anything close to mutiny. If the goal of that chapter was to build up the potential "mutiny" to illustrate Shackleton's strong leadership skills then it was accomplished. But even so, it seems that there could have been a more honest way of relaying that message.
  jhuynh5 | Apr 13, 2014 |
I intend to use this book as the core text while teaching the Antarctica unit in my World Geography class. I first read this last year. At the time, I had intended to include this text as a supplement to the curriculum. However after a second reading, I have decided to base the unit around this book. The author includes most of the required technical information in an engaging story of survival and human resilience. My students would enjoy the text while learning about physical geography, climate, and wildlife of Antarctica.

I thoroughly appreciate the remarkable story of courage and “Endurance.” The ship’s moniker was a chilling prediction of the adventure ahead. Shackleton’s expedition was an event that could incite horror or create heroes. He envisioned an expedition that would make his team the first to cross Antarctica. However, a series of unfortunate events leaves the crew stranded. Shackleton was able to keep his entire crew alive throughout the freezing and horrific ordeal.
I enjoyed the information about the physical conditions and temperatures in Antarctica. I was completely unaware of the whaling post on South Georgia Island. Also, the maps and photographs are a compliment to the book. Particularly, the photographs of the crew member with icicles on his face and the hut they built of boat hulls. ( )
  Jmoreeda | Apr 13, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375810498, Paperback)

The harrowing survival story of English explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and the ill-fated Endurance has intrigued people since the 1914 expedition--spurring astounding books such as Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage and The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition. As Shackleton and 27 sailors attempted to cross the frozen Antarctic continent from one side to the other, they were trapped in an ice pack, lost their ship to the icy depths, survived an Antarctic winter, escaped attacks from sea lions, and traversed 600 treacherous miles to the uninhabited Elephant Island. Leaving 22 men behind, Shackleton and five others sailed 800 miles across the southern Atlantic Ocean in a 20-foot open boat to tiny South George Island, where they hiked across unmapped mountains to a whaling station. In 1916, 19 months after the Endurance became icebound, Shackleton led a rescue party back to retrieve his men. Remarkably, every crew member survived.

Jennifer Armstrong, the award-winning author of Black-Eyed Susan and The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan, brings the unbelievable journey to life with delicious details: how a handsome young stowaway was discovered too late to cast him off; how the ship itself would become frost-white, looking like "another species of sparkling white iceberg as it nosed its way through the pack;" and how the ice-pack-dwelling Emperor penguins seemed to enjoy the banjo music of crew member Leonard Hussey. The true-to-life story is as thrilling as they come, and Armstrong's lively, crystal-clear writing style is just as compelling. More than 40 photographs of the expedition populate this inspiring nonfiction adventure story that young readers will devour from cover to cover. (Ages 10 to 14) --Karin Snelson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:07 -0400)

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"Describes the events of the 1914 Shackleton Antarctic expedition when, after being trapped in a frozen sea for nine months, their ship, Endurance, was finally crushed, forcing Shackleton and his men to make a very long and perilous journey across ice and stormy seas to reach inhabited land."… (more)

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