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Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage (original 1959; edition 1999)

by Alfred Lansing

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,495702,440 (4.36)81
Member:crmass
Title:Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Authors:Alfred Lansing
Info:Tyndale House (1999), Paperback, 247 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Paperback, Antarctica, Travel

Work details

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (1959)

  1. 30
    The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk by Jennifer Niven (John_Vaughan)
  2. 10
    Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado (caimanjosh)
    caimanjosh: This book clearly is somewhat different - there's no sea journeying involved - yet the themes of enduring terrible suffering and overcoming incredible hardships to effect a rescue of one's comrades are the same. Both are the most inspiring stories about the human spirit that I've ever read.… (more)
  3. 10
    The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander (chrisharpe)
  4. 00
    Trial by Ice: The True Story of Murder and Survival on the 1871 Polaris Expedition by Richard Parry (Pondlife)
    Pondlife: Endurance shows the positive effects of a great leader; trial by ice shows the negative effects of weak leadership.
  5. 00
    Shackleton's Boat Journey by Frank Worsley (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: An account of the same journey by Endurance's Captain Worsley.
  6. 00
    South: The Endurance Expedition by Ernest Shackleton (chrisharpe)
  7. 00
    Men Against the Sea: A Novel by Charles Nordhoff (WildMaggie)
  8. 01
    The Odyssey by Homer (BookWallah)
    BookWallah: Odysseus & Shackleton both had travails getting home from their epic voyages. Differences in their stories: The former’s took 17 years, lost all his men, & was told as epic poetry. The latter’s took 16 months, saved all his men, & is told as gripping biography.… (more)
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English (66)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
No doubt about it: the saga of Shackleton and his crew is an amazing against-all-odds story of ingenuity, gritty determination, and visceral will to live. I really enjoyed Lansing's account. The author's careful research and attention to detail were palpable on every page. He brought to vivid life the personalities of the crew members. The book is a testament to a level of all-out man-against-nature drive and determination which, thanks to the bounties of modern life and technology, humans are arguably unlikely ever to encounter or display again. Anyone with a curiosity or doubt about what people are truly capable of doing and achieving should read this book. ( )
  EpicTale | Apr 20, 2016 |
The amazing story of Ernest Shackleton’s foiled attempt to become the first man to trek across Antarctica, and his long odyssey to lead his crew of 27 men back to civilization is truly hard to fathom. Shackleton left England on the day it entered WWI with the government’s blessing, and after leaving a whaling station in South Georgia in December 1914, his ship the Endurance got trapped in ice a month later. They hoped the ice floe would break up but it never did, and like a small speck on an ice cube, they drifted along helplessly, away from land, for about 10 months. Conditions aboard the Endurance were actually reasonably good, aside from the inevitable boredom that set in, as they were warm and had food. However, the pressure of the ice eventually crushed it, forcing them to abandon ship and live in tents on the ice itself for 5 and a half months, where conditions were much worse, and would get worse still. The floe they were on would ultimately break up, forcing them to take to the lifeboats and face brutal conditions in the sea before successfully landing on a deserted island a few weeks later. And all of that’s not even the stunning part. Shackleton and 5 others then had to leave the others behind and pilot the best of their lifeboats 650 nautical miles through the Drake Passage, one of the stormiest and most dreaded bits of ocean on the planet. They miraculously landed a few weeks later, and even then still had to scale a mountainous glacier to reach the whaling station on the other side of the island. This included a free fall, “tobogganing without a toboggan”, in order to descend and avoid freezing conditions at night, one of many memorable moments. When they stumbled into the station, covered in the grime from burning blubber, dressed in what seem to be rags, and completely unkempt, it was the first time they had seen civilization in 17 months – an ending I might roll my eyes over if I saw it in a movie.

To survive and save his crew, Shackleton had to make difficult decisions, take risks but not those which were unnecessary, and keep morale up, so he’s often cited as an outstanding leader. He’s not always right, and to the book’s credit, he’s not idealized in this account. There are many moments throughout this odyssey where all truly seems lost, and yet they carry on. The conditions are extraordinary, starting with the bitter cold, of course. It’s impossible to truly know what they went through, but you do get a sense for what it means to be in each of the conditions they found themselves in – seeing ice showers from the sky and icebergs tower over the ship as they approached Antarctica, enduring blizzard winds, seeing giant ice floes battering against one another, hearing the haunting sounds of their pressure on the ship at night, and watching helplessly as it’s mangled and slowly sunk. Trying to haul lifeboats across the barren snow, but having feet and legs sunk in freezing water while making ridiculously slow progress. Having to (very sadly!) kill their trusting dogs as the supply of food from killing defenseless seals abated, at one point being attacked themselves by a sea leopard, and one day being surrounded by thousands and thousands of migrating penguins. The inevitable frustrations and irritations from being in close quarters with the same people for so long, and some of the ingenious ways to cope. Having the ice as both the safety of something solid, and yet a menace, as it would crack while they were on it and threaten their boats while at sea, ramming them, and possibly closing up around them. Starving and undergoing severe rationing while having to do things like cut off one man’s gangrenous foot. Getting to the sea but then enduring freezing water, giant waves, and dehydrating while getting little to no sleep over periods of several days. Relying on the incredible navigation of Frank Worsley to hit tiny islands hundreds of miles away, and then when getting there, having great difficulty landing … and on and on, it just boggles the mind. (Phew)

The book reminded me of The Martian in the sense that it shows human perseverance under extreme conditions, and ultimate success against long odds after being marooned, but it’s better written, and all true. Alfred Lansing wrote it four decades after the fact, but he did painstaking research, reading diaries several men kept, and interviewing many of the survivors. He knew a great story when he saw it and has a flair for the dramatic as the events unfold, but his writing is dry-eyed and highly authentic. The photographs included are also outstanding. It’s a miracle that Frank Hurley’s negatives survived, and I found the images and their quality level to be extremely good, and something you might see printed in a book from today. Non-fiction is not usually my thing, but the book was given to me as a gift from an old colleague, along with a bottle of whiskey recently recreated from those Shackleton brought along to the Antarctic. Needless to say, I enjoyed the pairing. :) ( )
1 vote gbill | Apr 6, 2016 |
Joan Allen
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
I really can't offer up a firm line between what captivated me most in Lansing's Endurance, whether it was the bravery and will to survive of the Endurance crew or Lansing's style. Both culminated in a result that is inspiring and enjoyable.

[Further review to come.] ( )
  lemotamant898 | Jan 18, 2016 |
An inspiring book supported with lots of visuals, hard to put down. ( )
  oel_3 | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alfred Lansingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Philbrick, NathanielIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinel, WilliamCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The time for hesitation was past, and Shackleton swung himself over the side. Working furiously, he began to cut steps in the face of the cliff, descending slowly, a foot at a time. A bitter chill had come into the air, and the sun was nearly down. Gradually they were getting lower, but it was maddeningly slow progress. After thirty minutes, the ice-hard surface of the snow grew softer, indicating that the grade was not quite so steep. Shackleton stopped short. He seemed to realize all at once the futility of what he was doing. At the rate they were going it would take hours to make the descent. Furthermore, it was probably too late to turn back. He hacked out a small platform with the adz, then called to the others to come down. There was no need to explain the situation. Speaking rapidly, Shackleton said simply that they faced a clear-cut choice: If they stayed where they were, they would freeze-in an hour, maybe two, maybe more. They had to get lower-and with all possible haste. So he suggested they slide. Worsley and Crean were stunned-especially for such an insane solution to be coming from Shackleton. But he wasn’t joking…he wasn’t even smiling. He meant it-and they knew it. But what if they hit a rock, Crean wanted to know. Could they stay where they were, Shackleton replied, his voice rising. The slope, Worsley argued. What if it didn’t level off? What if there were another precipice? Shackleton’s patience was going. Again he demanded-could they stay where they were? Obviously they could not, and Worsley and Crean reluctantly were forced to admit it. Nor was there really any other way of getting down. And so the decision was made. Shackleton said they would slide as a unit, holding onto one another. They quickly sat down and untied the rope which held them together. Each of them coiled up his share to form a mat. Worsley locked his legs around Shackleton’s waist and put his arms around Shackleton’s neck. Crean did the same with Worsley. They looked like three tobogganers without a toboggan. Altogether it took a little more than a minute, and Shackleton did not permit any time for reflection. When they were ready, he kicked off. In the next instant their hearts stopped beating. They seemed to hang poised for a split second, then suddenly the wind was shrieking in their ears, and a white blur of snow tore past. Down…down…they screamed – not in terror necessarily, but simply because they couldn’t help it. It was squeezed out of them by the rapidly mounting pressure in their ears and against their chests. Faster and faster – down … down …down! Then they shot forward onto the level, and their speed began to slacken. A moment later they came to an abrupt halt in a snowbank. The three men picked themselves up. They were breathless and their hearts were beating wildly. But they found themselves laughing uncontrollably. What had been a terrifying prospect possibly a hundred seconds before had turned into a breath-taking triumph.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 078670621X, Paperback)

In the summer of 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set off aboard the Endurance bound for the South Atlantic. The goal of his expedition was to cross the Antarctic overland, but more than a year later, and still half a continent away from the intended base, the Endurance was trapped in ice and eventually was crushed. For five months Shackleton and his crew survived on drifting ice packs in one of the most savage regions of the world before they were finally able to set sail again in one of the ship's lifeboats. Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage is a white-knuckle account of this astounding odyssey.

Through the diaries of team members and interviews with survivors, Lansing reconstructs the months of terror and hardship the Endurance crew suffered. In October of 1915, there "were no helicopters, no Weasels, no Sno-Cats, no suitable planes. Thus their plight was naked and terrifying in its simplicity. If they were to get out--they had to get themselves out." How Shackleton did indeed get them out without the loss of a single life is at the heart of Lansing's magnificent true-life adventure tale.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:15 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The astonishing saga of polar explorer Ernest Schackleton's survival for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas, as "Time" magazine put it, "defined heroism". Alfred Lansing's scrupulously researched and brilliantly narrated book--with over 200,000 copies sold--has long been acknowledged as the definitive account of the "Endurance's" fateful trip.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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