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

by Jennifer Armstrong

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56212117,723 (4.16)8
Member:Sandra_Loya
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
Rating:*****
Tags:science, geography, meteorology, history, exploration, nonfiction, 144p, young adult

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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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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance by Jennifer Armstrong is an incredible look at some of the last days of exploration. What men like 13th century Marco Polo started, Sir Ernest Shackleton sought to finish by crossing Antarctica, the final unexplored continent.

This was a modern expedition, and from a record-keeping perspective, that is what makes this look at the Endurance such a captivating human story. Shackleton actually financed the expedition by mortgaging in advance the intellectual property rights to the story. Each man on the expedition kept journals that Shackleton owned the rights to, and those journals provide an unprecedented (as far as I know) look at the emotional experiences of men engaged in polar exploration. Shackleton also formed a film syndicate with the intention of making a movie about the voyage, and the vivid photographs interwoven throughout the book were taken by the expedition photographer. In short, this was capitalism at it's finest; not your granddaddy's mercantilism. The perfect foundation for a nonfiction book.

Shipwreck is a chapter book and includes maps, ship plans, the crew manifest, a table of contents, a bibliography, and an index. Author Jennifer Armstrong is a prolific YA writer, and brings a clear and direct tone to the content. Her descriptions of men weeping, dogs howling, and the captain and his crew constantly waking from nightmares screaming, paints a vivid psychological picture, but she doesn't belabor these dramatic aspects. Instead, her descriptions of the psychological torment are rather matter of fact. Her descriptions of the cold and wet misery suffered by the crew are, however, more likely to grab the attention of young readers. This book is probably appropriate for Middle Schoolers on up, though I would have pushed that age higher if it didn't begin with the author's assurance that every single member of the crew lived.

The book begins with Shackelton's motivation for the expedition, and a description of the preparation it required. Armstrong takes us all the way to the men returning to England, and through the fairly tragic reality that (spoiler alert) rather than ride off into the sunset, the men were pretty much all immediately conscripted into World War I. Finally, it ends with Shackleton's eventual death on the Antarctic continent, where he is buried. ( )
  EBolles | May 9, 2017 |
This was an interesting read. I thought the author did an excellent job of taking a potentially dry and boring story (history) and made it a great read. ( )
  MeganTrue | Mar 18, 2017 |
I would use this book in an older age range due to its sensitive material and complexity. I would use this book to have my students create a fictional Survivor Letter describing the last 48 hours of their lives and what it was like to survive a shipwreck. I would also allow my students to do research on the topic and create a sea map of where they believe the ship sunk and why they believe that. They could also research the Titanic and correlate the shipwrecks. ( )
  Amanda11 | Apr 14, 2016 |
The harrowing survival story of English explorer Sir Ernest 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.Genre, informational, based on true events that happened. Media, water colors ( )
  robe0605 | Apr 11, 2016 |
This book is great for the fiction lovers who want to learn a little more about the explorers aboard The Endurance. Written in a captivating narrative style, Armstrong tells the story of twenty-eight men who set out in August of 1914 to become the first to explore Antarctica. Led by an ingenious Shackleton, this crew faced every problem imaginable—ice, ice, and more ice, shipwreck, starvation, frigid cold, ferocious storms, and despair among other things. But through it all, Shackleton leads his men to victory and thus survival. With the assistance of over 40 pictures, Armstrong brings this remarkable survival story to life by using a narrative prose not normally used in nonfiction. As a result, readers will whip through each page, all the while marveling that a group of men brought realistically back to life by Armstrong were able to survive such horrendous situations. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 3, 2016 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:45 -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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