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Erebus: The Story of a Ship by Michael Palin
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Erebus: The Story of a Ship (original 2018; edition 2019)

by Michael Palin (Author)

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4272644,918 (4.07)11
NOW AVAILABLE- Michael Palin's North Korea Journal THE SUNDAY TIMESBESTSELLER In the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, HMS Erebus undertook two of the most ambitious naval expeditions of all time. On the first, she ventured further south than any human had ever been. On the second, she vanished with her 129-strong crew in the wastes of the Canadian Arctic. Her fate remained a mystery for over 160 years. Then, in 2014, she was found. This is her story. _______________ BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK 'Beyond terrific. . . I didn't want it to end.' Bill Bryson 'Illuminated by flashes of gentle wit . . . It's a fascinating storythat Palin brings full-bloodedly to life.' Guardian 'This is an incredible book . . . The Erebusstory is the Arctic epic we've all been waiting for.' Nicholas Crane 'Thoroughly absorbs the reader. . . Carefully researched and well-crafted, it brings the story of a ship vividly to life.' Sunday Times 'A great story. . . Told in a very relaxed and sometimes - as you might expect - very funny Palin style.' David Baddiel, Daily Mail 'Magisterial . . . Brings energy, wit and humanity to a story that has never ceased to tantalise people since the 1840s.' The Times… (more)
Member:Fjodor
Title:Erebus: The Story of a Ship
Authors:Michael Palin (Author)
Info:Arrow (2019), 352 pages
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Erebus: The Story of a Ship by Michael Palin (2018)

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
Beautifully written, very engaging.

Focusing on the ship allows Palin to take in the people, the landscapes, the science, the politics ... as well as Palin's own trademark "amateur traveller and adventurer" persona.

( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
What a great book. I bought it principally because of my interest in the Franklin expedition, not realizing the role Erebus had played in Antarctic exploration. I admit to reading that a bit impatiently at first, but Palin's easy prose and heavy quoting of primary sources sucked me in. That being said, I did read the second half of this book much more enthusiastically.

This is an excellent first book to read about the Franklin expedition, and leaves you with a great bibliography to follow up on at the end. Palin's concise, clear summary of the forensic reconstruction of their fate that took place over the ensuing 150 years stands out as a highlight.

My one issue with this book is that the included maps aren't very good. If you're not familiar with the geography, it helps to look up some higher resolution, more detailed expedition maps on the internet first. ( )
  bishnu83 | Apr 6, 2021 |
Really interesting book detailing the history of the ship Erebus and sister ship Terror. Not my usual cup of tea, so I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. ( )
  Vividrogers | Dec 20, 2020 |
A genteel pacing for most of the book, then an epic tragic acceleration. Disastrous and beautiful. ( )
  Mithril | Apr 18, 2020 |
I have to confess to having been completely ignorant of HMS Erebus until reading this book. That is a woeful confession because the ship had two notable, although quite separate, claims to fame.

It, although perhaps by convention I should say ‘she’, was originally commissioned for the Royal Navy following the Napoleonic Wars, with her twin ship HMS Terror. After general service throughout the Mediterranean Sea, Erebus was reconfigured as a research and exploration vessel, with a specific view to sailing through the Antarctic. Her keel and body were strengthened with thick planks of oak, to help it sustain encirclement by pack ice in polar seas.

Their first substantial expedition commenced in 1840 under the captaincy of James Ross, and saw her departing for Tasmania and New Zealand, before venturing deep into the Antarctic Ocean. This was a research expedition, and had a particular emphasis on the establishment of geomagnetic stations at various points around the southern hemisphere. Regulated by the then still fairly new technology of chronometers, these stations would be capable of taking readings simultaneously. There was also, however, a prevailing fascination with the still unexplored Antarctic regions. While probing the pack ice, HMS Erebus sailed further south than any voyage had previously managed.

Following their successful return to Britain, in 1845 Erebus and The Terror were despatched to norther climes, under the command of Sir John Franklin and with crews totalling around 130 men, in an attempt to establish the Northwest Passage. They were now equipped with steam engines (not custom built but, rather, converted from railway locomotives) to complement their full set of sails. This expedition did not mirror the success of the first voyage, and both ships became icebound. They were eventually abandoned by the crew, who tried to make their way south across the ice pack, although none of them survived to make a return to occupied territory. There were encounters with indigenous Inuit hunters, who subsequently claimed that the final remnants of the crew had survived as long as they did by resorting to cannibalism. Forensic examinations of the remains of some members of the expedition that were uncovered during the 1980s appeared to substantiate that claim. They also gave clear evidence that the provisions carried by the two ships were also inadequate, and had in addition been compromised by lead poisoning and botulism. Both ships had been considered to be lost without hope of recovery, until 2014, when a cartographic survey of the Arctic Ocean commissioned by the Canadian government located remains subsequently identified as being from HMS Erebus. Two years later the wreck of HMS Terror was also found.

Michael Palin’s account is very accessible, written with his customary clarity and cheery tone, although he does not allow that to compromise or detract from the integrity of his research. He flags up the delicious irony of one of the senior figures in the expedition, whose role was to record new wildlife, but whose greatest joy seemed to be shooting the various birds that proved foolish enough to fly within musket range. He also peppers the story with references to his own voyages throughout the polar regions.

This is an engaging and informative book, and represents popular history at its best. ( )
2 vote Eyejaybee | Feb 6, 2020 |
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And indeed, nothing is easier for a man who has, as the phrase goes, 'followed the sea' with reverence and affection, than to evoke the great spirit of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames. The tidal current runs to and fro in its unceasing service, crowded with memories of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home, or to the battles of the sea... from the Golden Hind returning with her round flanks full of treasure... to the Erebus and Terror, bound on other conquests -- and that never returned.
 
     Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
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I've always been fascinated by sea stories.
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NOW AVAILABLE- Michael Palin's North Korea Journal THE SUNDAY TIMESBESTSELLER In the early years of Queen Victoria's reign, HMS Erebus undertook two of the most ambitious naval expeditions of all time. On the first, she ventured further south than any human had ever been. On the second, she vanished with her 129-strong crew in the wastes of the Canadian Arctic. Her fate remained a mystery for over 160 years. Then, in 2014, she was found. This is her story. _______________ BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK 'Beyond terrific. . . I didn't want it to end.' Bill Bryson 'Illuminated by flashes of gentle wit . . . It's a fascinating storythat Palin brings full-bloodedly to life.' Guardian 'This is an incredible book . . . The Erebusstory is the Arctic epic we've all been waiting for.' Nicholas Crane 'Thoroughly absorbs the reader. . . Carefully researched and well-crafted, it brings the story of a ship vividly to life.' Sunday Times 'A great story. . . Told in a very relaxed and sometimes - as you might expect - very funny Palin style.' David Baddiel, Daily Mail 'Magisterial . . . Brings energy, wit and humanity to a story that has never ceased to tantalise people since the 1840s.' The Times

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