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South: The Endurance Expedition (1919)

by Ernest Shackleton

Other authors: Frank Hurley (Photographer)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,845399,158 (4.04)51
Biography & Autobiography. History. Travel. Nonfiction. HTML:

When Sir Henry Ernest Shackleton was beaten to the South Pole in 1912, he decided to trek across the continent via the pole instead. Before his ship even reached the continent it was crushed in pack ice. Shackleton managed to bring his entire team home by his masterful leadership through a series of incredible events. He has become a cult figure and a role model for great leadership.

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English (38)  Dutch (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
A most fascinating piece of history, written up by Ernest from the diaries, logs and journals that survived his calamitous attempt at crossing the Antarctic.   It seems that if it could have gone wrong, it did go wrong.

There's that all pervasive, Victorian attitude of bloody minded, arrogant perseverance throughout this book, and it certainly feels that that is all that kept these people alive, but it's also what got them into the mess in the first place.

Having been beaten to be the first to get to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen, Shackleton decided to turn his sights on being the first to cross the Antarctic.   It certainly seems to me that this need to be the first, to always be proving that the British could do something quicker and better than any other nation, caused Shackleton to rush into something he was completely unprepared for.   Whereas Amundsen, being Norwegian, was obviously very used to dealing with very cold temperatures, was fully trained with sled dogs and their uses, and set out fully trained and physically fit, Shackleton appears to have just taken the bloody minded, arrogant approach of... 'We're British and we know what we're doing and nothing, not even Nature, can stand in our way.   For King and Country, and all that!'

I just get the feeling that Shackleton's attitude was... 'Let's just get going, we can't afford to wait, we can sort it all out when we get there.'

While this book is, without a doubt, an incredible testament to the incredible bravery, fortitude and perseverance of humans to survive when pushed well beyond all imaginable limits, it's also a testament to some incredible stupidity.

Yes, i realise, that that was the zeitgeist: to just keep throwing people, lives and equipment at a problem until it was dealt with.   Human life was not held in such high regard back then as it is today.   Spending a few years properly planning and training was simply unacceptable when other nations would have no such restraint and do it before us.   So one does have to weigh this account in that regard, and when weighted in that light Shackleton did an incredible job, and it's always so easy to criticise with hindsight.   If the weather had been with him those years then what could have been achieved? ( )
  5t4n5 | Aug 9, 2023 |
A well written autobiography that really makes you appreciate the challenges encountered and get a real feeling for what the team were going through day by team. It was quite tedious to read at times (actually, for large chunks) with how detailed the mundane descriptions of each day sometimes were but it did help to make you appreciate what they were going through. ( )
  gianouts | Jul 5, 2023 |
Beautiful looking but severely abridged version of Shackleton's book. Nice to look at but go find a free unabridged e-book edition to actually read (its in the public domain). ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
Great story told in the dullest possible manner. Shackleton manages to take all the excitement out of an astounding story of survival and suffering. Compare to [a:Apsley Cherry-Garrard|27180|Apsley Cherry-Garrard|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-U-50x66-251a730d696018971ef4a443cdeaae05.jpg]'s [b:The Worst Journey in the World|48503|The Worst Journey in the World|Apsley Cherry-Garrard|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349013386s/48503.jpg|47447] where a similar story of Scott's Last Antarctic Expedition manages to capture all of the extraordinary experience, risk, pain, and death involved in early 20th Century polar exploration. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
Coming into this book, I'd decided I wanted to read a "happier" tale of polar expeditions - no human died on the Endurance side of this trip. At the end of this book, I learned once again that it was blind luck that nobody died.

Shackleton was unbelievably lucky that the Endurance sank as slowly as it did, considering all the trips back that the crew was able to make to get flour and other necessities. I don't know whether they should have tried harder to sledge across the ice floes - after George Washington De Long's inhuman attempt to get off the ice pack near the North Pole, Shackleton's attempts seem pretty wimpy.

This also included so much animal death, retold in some really eerily creepy ways. The explorers all loved the penguins, but loved dissecting their stomachs and eating them more (it is a starvation scenario so the unashamed eating is definitely understandable, but the gleeful way Shackleton described catching the penguins was pretty haunting).

I dunno. Seeing how hard it was for them to get off the continent, and then how hard it was to get ships to Elephant Island to rescue the rest, I can understand why nobody was in a hurry to throw money at the endeavor. It put a lot of things into perspective. ( )
  Tikimoof | Feb 17, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shackleton, Ernestprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hurley, FrankPhotographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cahill, TimForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Degas, RupertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, Catherine LauCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, LordIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To My Comrades who fell in the white warfare of the south and on the red fields of France and Flanders
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I had decided to leave South Georgia about December 5, and in the intervals of final preparation scanned again the plans for the voyage to winter quarters.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Travel. Nonfiction. HTML:

When Sir Henry Ernest Shackleton was beaten to the South Pole in 1912, he decided to trek across the continent via the pole instead. Before his ship even reached the continent it was crushed in pack ice. Shackleton managed to bring his entire team home by his masterful leadership through a series of incredible events. He has become a cult figure and a role model for great leadership.

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