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Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written Paperback – 31 Mar 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press; Subsequent edition (31 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586420003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586420000
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.9 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback
Without being fully aware of the history of the polar expeditions or polar travel in general, I began this book expecting a great adventure story and nothing more. This book more than delivered in that respect. Not only is it immensely easy to read, but I found it difficult to put down and became completely engrossed in the story that unfolded. I got choked up a great deal towards the end and felt anxious and exhausted along with the people in the book. For the two days that it took to read, I lived the fears and exhaustion along with the author and finished the book feeling wrung out, yet strangely exhilarated. I can not imagine what it must be like to travel in such a hostile environment, but this book goes some way to helping you picture what it may of been like. It also has some great old photography. If you like survival stories or are interested in the polar expeditions you must add this book to your library, it is a superb read that will keep you gripped throughout. Highly recommended.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By calmly on 22 Oct 2007
Format: Paperback
Rarely has fiction served the truth so well. Rarely has the truth served fiction so well.

Mawson's own account of his ordeal, in "The Home of The Blizzard", seems relatively matter of fact. We may not have marvelled at Mawson's accomplishment in surviving if we relied only on his way of telling it. Although a good writer, his specialities were geography and exploration.

Bickel's presentation here in "Mawson's Will" makes Mawson's accomplishment more touching than Mawson's own presentation. But it took an extraordinary writing accomplishment by Bickel to convey Mawson's accomplishment. Poetic license? To fail to understand how much faithful art it took to go from Mawson's diaries and book to Bickel's account would be to not appreciate how much effort and skill it took for Bickel to bring Mawson's tale so fully alive. If Bickel hadn't taken poetic license, this tale may have been of more interest to the most purist historian but it would have been of far less human interest. Sensitive to our lack of understanding of the Antartic experience, Bickel put us there in a way we never could have gotten from Mawson's own account. The last one hundred pages of "Mawson's Will" are as riveting as anything I've read in years.

Bickel's faithfulness to Mawson has made this a special work of art. Because of Bickel, we can be amazed at how Mawson survived and understand something profound about the human will.

P.S. I wake up the next day to find the story is still strong on my mind. Mawson returned to Australia to find his beloved waiting, married her, in time actually returned to the Antartic for exploration, and lived til 73.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By P. Robson on 9 Dec 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Douglas Mawson is someone who doesn't get the credit he deserves ; especially in comparison to Robert Scott. A member of the 1907 Nimrod expedition, he organised his own trip to the land south of Australia in 1913, and this excellent book is the tale of that trip.
Mawson had to contend not only with the death in a crevasse of his companion Ninnis, but had to witness the slow descent into madness and death of his other companion, Mertz, then made his way hundreds of miles back to his base at Cape Dennison, surviving on left over scraps and eating his dogs.
Sometimes it is easier to die like Scott than to continue, (Cherry Garrard makes a similar point in "The Worst Journey in the World"), graphically illustrated when Mawson falls into a crevasse, and somehow pulled himself out. But survive he did,and lived to a ripe old age.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Loughridge VINE VOICE on 9 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
An incredible story of survival in unimaginable conditions - this book cost me sleep, for I couldnt put it down. You cant go to sleep in a nice warm bed with a guy hanging in an ice crevasse on a gracier!

This is the second book on arctic/antarctic exploration I've read. Both books have left me breathless. The first was The Ice Master, which, while an incredible story, isnt as well written as Mawson's will.

When the book arrived I was surprised that it was only 250 pages, but I soon found that that was part of the quality of this book - the author keeps the story moving along. To be honest I dont think I could have coped if it was twice as long!

The story and the writing are superb, but one criticism I have of the book is that there are no maps, so I hunted around online and found a superbly detailed map of the 600 mile trek, with each day's progress marked, as well as the significant locations. I found myself referring to it constantly, and marveling all the more.

So if you purchase the book, make sure you look for the map - there are at least two, one that shows the sea voyage, the other which shows the land trek. If you go to one of the big search engines and type in "map mawson antarctic" and select image search, and large images, you should see it easily enough. Print it off and keep it handy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miseri57 on 31 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What is just as unbelievable as this truly remarkable story itself is that Mawson has never had the same recognition as his contemporaries, Scott and Shackleton.

The story is even more remarkable, not just because of the terrible deaths of his comrades or the near starvation or physical pain and mental exhaustion, but that Mawson is further tormented by his total isolation in a vastness unimaginable.

A grim tale with emotion, the reader will find Bickel's account vivid and moving.
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