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Ice Captain: The Life of Joseph Russell Stenhouse [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Stephen Haddelsey
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 May 2008
The first full biography of the naval Captain whose seamanship freed Shackleton's ship, Aurora, from the ice, and who rescued the marooned Ross Sea Party.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; 1st Edition edition (8 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750943483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750943482
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

If there is a common theme to my books, it is that all address a subject which has been 'overlooked' or consigned to oblivion - in my view unjustly.

In my first book, Charles Lever: The Lost Victorian (2000), I sought to bring back to public notice a highly gifted but much-maligned Anglo-Irish novelist who, in his early career, vied with Charles Dickens in terms of popularity and earning-power but who fell foul of Nationalist critics who effectively erased him from the canon of Irish literature.

My second book, Born Adventurer: The Life of Frank Bickerton (2005), dealt with another 'lost' figure - but one from an altogether different world. Frank Bickerton led an extraordinary life of adventure, playing a leading role in one of the key expeditions of the Heroic Age of polar exploration. He also hunted for pirate gold on R.L. Stevenson's Treasure Island; fought with one of the elite squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War; travelled by train, plane and automobile the entire length of Africa during the golden age of the safari; and ultimately worked as a screenplay writer in the British film industry. His incredibly varied career was a delight to research and write about.

Ice Captain: The Life of J.R. Stenhouse (2008) tells the story of one of Frank Bickerton's closest friends: another adventurer - but one whose almost miraculous tale of hardship and survival aboard the Aurora on Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17 has been overshadowed by the much better-known story of the fate of the Endurance and Shackleton's boat journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia. Like Bickerton, Stenhouse went on to an astonishing array of adventures, ranging from fighting the Bolsheviks in North Russia in 1918-19, to command of Captain Scott's Discovery during the National Oceanographic Expedition of 1925-27, to heroic service with the Royal Navy in the Second World War.

Most recently, in Shackleton's Dream: Fuchs, Hillary & The Crossing of Antarctica (February 2012), I have written the biography not of an individual but of an entire Antarctic expedition - but one which, like Lever, Bickerton and Stenhouse, has slipped into an undeserved obscurity. As I hope the book proves, 'Modern Age' expeditions such as the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (CTAE) of 1955-58, were as dangerous, demanding, heroic and, ultimately, as contentious as those of the 'Heroic Age'.

In choosing to champion subjects which might well be described as 'lost causes' it might seem that I am tilting at windmills - but in each case, it appears to me that an injustice has been committed, sometimes deliberately as in the case of Charles Lever, but more often by accident, as in the cases of Bickerton, Stenhouse and the CTAE. Each of these stories deserves to be heard by a much wider audience than has hitherto been the case. And, of equal importance, each story needed to be recorded and preserved before it was lost forever.

Stephen Haddelsey lives and works in Nottinghamshire. He is married with one son.

Product Description

About the Author

Stephen Haddelsey is a programme manager with the Civil Service. His previous books include Born Adventurer: The Life of Frank Bickerton, Antarctic Pioneer (Sutton, 2005) and a series of historical atlases for UK and US publication.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read 27 Oct 2008
By Sven
Format:Hardcover
I bought this book not really knowing much about Stenhouse - more because it seemed to be covering an area of Antarctic exploration and history that I was interested in. I must admit that I wasn't dissapointed though.. In fact I became increasingly gripped by the exploits Stenhouse was involved with which - coupled with the detail and colour the author weaves into these accounts left a very real impression on me. A real find and an important book for anyone interested in the genre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By IceBear
Format:Hardcover
I've been reading books on the heroic age of Antarctic exploration since Nov 2011 when I realised that the centenary of Scott's expedition was upon us. Through the good offices of Amazon's "others also read..." sections, I saw a book called The Lost Men: The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party by Kelly Tyler Lewis. This is the much less known story of the support party to Shackleton's Transantarctic expedition, who were stranded at Cape Evans when their ship, the Aurora, was blown away, locked in the ice during a storm. Joseph Stenhouse was the captain of that ship, and lead it through an extraordinary drift that somewhat paralleled that of the Endurance on the other side of the continent. That the ship eventually made it back to safety was due in no small measure to Stenhouse's seamanship. And all at the age of just 26, if my maths is correct.

This book is the story of Stenhouse's life, and fills in the picture of a fascinating character - someone who was really a little out of time. It's not unreasonable that someone who had tasted adventure like that comparatively early in life would continue to seek it out. So, we read about Stenhouse's later service in the Great War on the armed merchant "mystery ships" hunting U-boats, organising a fleet of motor boats on the lakes of Northern Russia during the campaign against the Red Army in 1919, captaining the RRS Discovery on oceanographic expeditions, treasure-hunting in the South Pacific with fellow Antarctic veteran, Frank Worsley, and finally his naval service at the start of the Second World War leading to his eventual death.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this - you won't regret it. 27 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover
I started this book more out of a sense of duty than anticipation but soon found myself captivated by the extraordinary exploits of this amazing man, which are well researched and told by the author. Stenhouse's life was an inspitaion to others - both then and now - and anybody interested in Antarctic, sailing ships or naval history will be sure to find this a fascinating read. It deserves a far larger audience than, I supect, it has and really should be the chosen book of the month for one of the 'celebrity' lists. Read it - you won't regret it!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good biography of CAPT Stenhouse 13 Mar 2014
By M Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Having spent two Winters at McMurdo, Antarctica, I was aware of CAPT Stenhouse being the master of the ship, the Aurora, for ten months from May 1915 - March 1916 when it became trapped in the pack ice. CAPT Aeneas Mackintosh took the Aurora to Cape Evans (where CAPT Robert's Scott's hut was located during the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910-1913) in McMurdo Sound as leader of the Ross Sea Party to support the laying of food caches for Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to cross the Antarctic Continent from the Weddell Sea via the South Pole to Cape Evans in Sir Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (ITAE).

In May 2015 the Aurora was secured to anchors at Cape Evans when a major storm came up and broke the lines, locking the ship in the pack-ice which slowing drifted North towards New Zealand. At the time Captain Mackintosh was leading sledging trips but became one of ten men trapped on the ice for the next two years. As the Chief Officer aboard the Aurora when the ship became ice-locked and adrift, CAPT Stenhouse took command. On the other side of the continent Sir Shackleton's Endurance was also trapped in the pack-ice at the same time. CAPT Frank Worsley, the master of this ship, was a friend of CAPT Stenhouse. The legacy of CAPT Worsley (along with Sir Shackleton) managing to get 28 men in three life boats to Elephant Island, and then further navigating 800 miles in the James Caird to South Georgia Island is famous in the history of Antarctic exploration, but CAPT Stenhouse's role in leading the Aurora is every bit as impressive, but not nearly as well known. This was the major extent on my knowledge until I read Ice Captain. I bought the book to find out more, but CAPT Stenhouse's time and role in the ITAE is but a fraction of the nearly 40 years he lived life as a sailor. World War I was still going on when he made it back to England; he and CAPT Worsley then hunted German U-Boats. After the war ended, CAPT Stenhouse ended up in the Russian Arctic in an attempt to curb the Bolshevics, he then became the commander of CAPT Scott's Discovery ship in a scientific expedition. Throw in some treasure hunting and nurturing ideas of Antarctic tourism, again with CAPT Worsley, plus some World War II participation, and the reader can easily tell that CAPT Stenhouse wasn't the kind of man to sit down on the beach and warm up rocking chairs looking at sunsets.

Mr. Haddelsey performed extensive research on this book,and thoroughly documented it. Though out, he wrote of the friendship between the two Captains, and just as importantly, CAPT Stenhouse's love of the sea.
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