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on 30 August 2003
It seemed right that you should get a younger persons point of view on the book. So here it is.
Every second of this book was breath-taking and the remarkable characters never stopped amazing me with their never ceasing courage and determination to get home. Set during the first World War the crew of the Endurance are forgotton as their ship sinks leaving them stranded on the vast Antarctic ice. For two years the men crossed the ice, living on seals, penguins and dogs. Through vivid diary extracts and accounts you see the adventure through the eyes of the men who struggled through it; you realise how each mans different personalities and qualities succeeded in get the others around him home. The descriptions of the ice and atmosphere of the surrounding countries are amazing and the pictures are breath-taking.
As you read the book you realise Alfred Lansing excellent skill as a writer of accurate events and never loose interest in the risks taken by the crew of the Endurance as they cross ice, the wilest sea in the world and a mountain climbed never before, driven by pure determination and strength of mind.
This book is amazing. Alfred Lansing had true talent.
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on 2 December 2003
This account of Shackleton's famous expedition reads like a thriller novel. It may lack some technical detail that a student of Antarctica might desire, but it gives full vent to the predicament the party found themselves in, and the inspirational fortitude and courage of their leader. One advantage of this book is that the author had access to surviving expedition members when researching the subject, and the book benefits from these first hand accounts of the persoanlities involved as well as the bleak details of their situation.
As the story unfolds, each step required to get nearer rescue becomes more 'impossible'. Threat of starvation, wintering on ice, breaking ice floes, an incredible boat journey, amputation, crossing impenetrable mountains (the first to do so)---it is all in here. Each phase is a powerful story in itself. It is one of the great stories of the 20th century---up there with the Apollo 13 crew---but these men had no-one except themselves and their determination to get themselves home safely. If you know little or nothing about Shackleton's adventure this is, I think, the best book to introduce the subject. It is the pinnacle of the 'heroic age' adventures, and Alfred Lansing captures the mood beautifully.
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on 3 June 2000
UK EDITION: Lansing does a great job of conveying life on the ice with Shacklton's team and allows us to meet the men involved. I found myself constantly refering to the nominal role at the front of the book to check who did what. I would have liked even more background on the personalities, if only to stop me briefly hating those whose courage or determination fialed to match the incredible standards set by the others. The author, I'm sure plays down subjects which would normally be life changing- frostbite,hypothermia and malnutrition to name a few. Set in an environment most of us would find hard to imagine and over a priod difficult to comprehend. A fitting way to introduce Shacklton's story in a non academic style but I would love to have seen photo's (especially of the main characters), detailed maps, manifests and technical data relating to the voyage. Shackleton joins the likes of Scott,Mawson and Fiennes in making me feel inspired but insignificant at the same time, every schoolboy should be told this story.
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on 12 April 2006
If this weren't a true story you would consider it too far fetched. The determination to survive in the face of extreme hardship is mindblowing. Shackleton's leadership skills are unparalleled and could be applied to many other areas of life. One of the best books I have ever read - thoroughly recommended.
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on 29 November 2001
This is such a good piece of work, both the original writing and Tim Piggot-Smith's expert reading combine to make it a 3D-audio-smellovision experience. Forget all the smoothie image-men with their 'cool' talk and their tight T-shirts revealing bulging muscles. This is a real adventure story of the most incredible fortitude and persistence in the face of unbelievable adversity. Although it was a team effort it was surely Shackleton's iron will, compassion, judgement and man-management skills that brought his entire party back alive after the Endurance was crushed by the ice. Dragging the ship's boats over the pack ice for many miles, fighting the crushing floes once the boats were launched, repeatedly revising plans as the boats were blown by gales and driven by currents until they finally made landfall on the desolate Elephant Island. But that was only half of the story. Taking one of the boats, Shackleton and a small crew left the rest of the party on the island (living under the other two boats and eating penguins and seals) and brought rescue by successfully crossing the south Atlantic to South Georgia, landing on the 'wrong' side due to the conditions, then crossing the devastatingly difficult mountains on foot to seek help from the Norwegians at the whaling station, arriving like scarecrows on the doorstep of the station manager. The whole party were then rescued after several attempts. Shackleton's achievement is best summed up by the reaction of the experienced old Norwegian whaling skippers who queued up to shake the hand of the man who had achieved what all had believed to be impossible ---- and they above all knew what they were talking about.
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This book is a phenomenal read from cover to cover. The author keeps the prose pacy and intense it is an exhausting book to read. He really communicates the massive feat of human endurance and the sheer power of Ernest Shackleton as a leader and personality. At last an accessable book championing the cause of Britain's greatest polar explorer (the title often going to Scott. The expression 'Great Scott' should be changed for 'Great Shack' sadly, like many uncompromising men, Shackelton did not really fit into acceptable Edwardian society as readily as Scott but his exploits speak for themselves. The only critisism of the book is that the author doesn't spend much time on developing the characters except Shackleton, and that is only through his actions. Nor does he put it into social context, this is probably because when the book was written in the '50's the expliots of the crew of the Endurance was still fresh in the public conciousness. I recommend that one reads Roland Huntsford's 'Shackleton' which elaborates on the whole episode. But for sheer enjoyment this is the volume to read.
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on 10 January 2001
Entrapped in the Ice of the Weddell sea over an Antarctic winter, it is the story of how the crew survived; which they managed, despite the overwhelming odds against them. Shows brilliantly man's ability to endure against all hardships imaginable and his ability to succeed against impossible odds. The pictures alone, saved by the crew during the sinking of their ship, make this book worth purchasing. Even today with modern equipment and technology the chances of a voyage like this being sucessful are exceedingly slim. The South Georgian interior was not explored until some 40-50 years after Shackleton's journey.
An epic adventure.
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on 8 March 2016
I was surprised as I started to read it how little I actually knew about Shackleton's voyage, and the hardship the men put up with. Lansing wastes no time in getting to the part where teh crew abandon ship after it becomes beset by ice and starts to break apart and then spends time cataloguing their quite miserable days, months and years. Its aided throughout by diary entries which lend an air of banality to the whole unbelievable situation. The final few chapters are absolutely gripping.
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on 4 August 2001
This book tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-16. Lansing wrote the original manuscript in 1959, based on the diaries and recollections of the expedition's members. He tells this gripping story in a spare prose that only adds to the story's terrific suspense.

Shackleton's aim was to compensate the Empire for the American Robert Peary's being the first to reach the North Pole in 1909 and for the Norwegian Roald Amundsen's beating Robert Scott to the South Pole in 1912. With 27 men, Shackleton set sail in the Endurance from Buenos Aires in October 1914, seeking to make the first overland crossing of the Antarctic - an ambition not achieved until 1958.

They left the island of South Georgia in December, but in January the Endurance became trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea, and stayed trapped for nine months until she sank in November. They were 1200 miles from the nearest human beings. They had no radio transmitter and no hope of rescue. The crew now struggled North for six months, travelling 400 miles, walking and dragging their three boats, drifting on fragile ice floes.

They launched the boats after the pack ice finally released them, and made a six-day voyage to Elephant Island, where Shackleton left 22 men camped. Then he and five crewmembers sailed 850 miles back to South Georgia - sixteen days, in an open twenty-foot boat, across the stormiest ocean in the world. Shackleton and two others then trekked across the mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, a crossing next made in far easier conditions in 1955.

The tale shows how all the men discussed what they had to do next and how, once they took a decision, they implemented it. It also shows Shackleton's extraordinary powers of decision and judgment. Despite their appalling ordeals, they didn't lose a man. No wonder that Chris Bonington called it 'the greatest survival story of all time'.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 June 2012
This is superbly written account of incredible hardships, and the remarkable. almost unbelievable levels of endurance, perseverance, and courage shown by Ernest Shackleton and the other 27 men who were shipwrecked on the ice of the South Atlantic in 1915.

This superbly written account, written in 1959 and relying heavily on the accounts of those who were there, makes clear the resilience and inventiveness which were required to survive. That all of the shipwrecked did so, depute having to drift on ice flows through the poplar winter, and making remarkable open boat sea crossings to reach land and eventual safety almost a year later, is clear testament to the endurance of the human spirit in the face of almost overwhelming adversity.

This is a great read with an uplifting outcome

Highly recommended
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