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Shackletons Forgotten Men: The Untold Tale of an Antarctic Tragedy [Paperback]

Lennard Bickel
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 2001

When Ernest Shackleton resolved to cross Antarctica in 1915, he knew the task would require two parties of men. Shackleton and his crew aimed to cross the continent - but were to meet with disaster when their ship, the Endurance, was frozen into the ice of the Weddell Sea. Meanwhile a smaller group - the Ross Sea party, led by the impetuous one-eyed captain Aeneas Mackintosh and the hard-headed Ernest Joyce - went before them and landed on the opposite side of the continent. Their mission was to haul sledges almost 2,000 miles across the harsh interior in order to set up a lifeline of depots for the coming Shackleton party. However, like the men of the Endurance, this group also lost their ship, the Aurora - along with their supplies - when a ferocious polar gale ripped it from its moorings. But Mackintosh and his men, who knew that their failure would doom Shackleton's party to starvation, refused to give up. They scavenged supplies from an earlier expedition, led by Robert Scott, and set out on one of the most remarkable journeys in polar history.

Battling against deadly weather, with scant food and makeshift clothes, the small band hauled tons of supplies across the bitter polar wastes. Scurvy and madness overtook several men and, in the end, three of the party died - but not before they had accomplished their task.

This is the story of ordinary men who rose to extraordinary heights of courage, determination and endurance. While their achievement was futile - Shackleton never came - it was also one of the greatest and most astonishing in the heroic age of polar exploration.

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Shackletons Forgotten Men: The Untold Tale of an Antarctic Tragedy + Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written + Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; First Edition First Impression edition (4 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712668071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712668071
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 536,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"This journey is without parallel in the annals of polar exploration...a task almost beyond human endurance" (Ernest Mills Joyce)

"No more remarkable story of human endeavour has been revealed than the tale of that long march" (Sir Earnest Shackleton)

Book Description

'No more remarkable story of human endeavour has been revealed than the tale of that long march' Sir Ernest Shackleton

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
I received this book for Christmas and could not put it down. With all the current hype on Sir Earnest Shackleton and the heroic tale of how the 'Endurance' was trapped in the ice on the way to the Antartic (where the goal was a trans Antartic crossing) and the subsequent terrifying boat journeys to 'Elephant Island' and 'South Georgia' (which were required to save the men), we often forget about the other side of the expedition - 10 brave and valient men who went on the 'Aurora' on to the other side of Antartic to lay the food depots in this inhospitable land so that the main party would have food supplies when they attempted the crossing.
Conditions here were just as bleak as on the Endurance and tragically three of the 10 strong team died accomplishing this mission. This was doubly ironic as Shackleton and his team never needed the supplies that were laid with such suffering and heroism due to their own unexpected circumstances.
This is an excellent, very readable book which has some wonderful new insights from Dick Richards who actually survived to be interviewed by the author. I feel it also highlights the expedition as a whole, rather than the better known journey to Elephant Island.. Read wrapped up warm! these descriptions defy belief in human endurance!
You often hear that Shackleton never lost one man who he was directly responsible for on his expeditions. This is true but i feel not enough notice is given to the three who were lost even though he was indirectly responsible for them.
I recommend this book to anyone, particularly if you have an interest in Polar literature or just like a good old fashioned adventure story
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shackelton's most successful failure 4 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Bickel's work sympathetically deals with one of the most harrowing stories of antarctic exploration. For antarctic disaster only Cherry-Garrard's "The Worst Journey on Earth" comes close. Every possible disaster was endured with courage and dignity by Shackleton's Ross Sea Party as they endeavoured and succeeded to lay the depots vital to enable the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to make the first crossing of the continent. The book runs chronologically and ends most chapters with a summary of progress in the Weddell Sea as Shackleton's escape from the doomed "Endurance" progressed. This makes it a perfect companion book to Shackleton's "South".
The parties on both sides of Antarctica found death stalked them from behind as they made their retreats. Shackelton's escape with the crew of the Endurance is well documented - Bickel completes the picture using, amongst other sources, excellent primary evidence from the last survivor of the "Aurora". Riveting reading.
For the arctic try Jennifer Niven's "The Ice Master" - an equally excellent book.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely readable tale of heroism 22 May 2001
This is truly a tale of heroism and human fortitude against overwhelming odds. I myself have read several books about the Endurance disaster and apart from passing comment about the men delivering the supplies, there was no real mention of their heroic efforts.
Bickel unravels a tale of fortitude every bit as gritty and dreadful as that of Shackleton and his men, and it is an important story which deserves telling and telling well as Bickel has done.
I would commend this book to enyone with even the most passing interest in the history of Polar exploration and the endeavours of truly brave men.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Everybody has heard of Sir Ernest Shackleton's epic 1914 Antarctic expedition; the loss of the Endurance, the harrowing journey of its crew to the safety of Elephant Island, and the epic voyage of the James Caird - eclipsed only by the almost completely unequipped march across South Georgia by Shackleton and two companions, who finally were able to get help for the remaining stranded men. Not one man from the crew of the Endurance was lost, a monument to human endeavour and to the personal qualities of Shackleton himself.

The original aim of the expedition was for Shackleton's party to cross the continent - meaning that another party would need to lay depots in an accurate, pre-planned set of positions so that Sir Ernest's approaching polar party would be able to replenish provisions and travel lightly across the snow. This book recounts the story of the Aurora party, led by Captain AEneas Mackintosh. Half way through unloading provisions, the Aurora broke its moorings, leaving the shore party marooned. But with the full expectation that Shackleton would be coming the following year, the small party of brave men cannibalised the remaining supplies and debris left by Scott's and Shackleton's earlier expeditions, and sets out to lay the essential depots - never knowing that Shackleton's party would never come.

This is a story worth reading, re-reading and remembering; with minimal equipment, and a bitter lack of supply and respite, Mackintosh and his men pushed on into the Antarctic interior and laid their supplies at the greatest personal risk. The personal devotion the Aurora party displayed to Shackleton has never seen equal and will most most probably never be seen again; indeed, three of these very brave men never returned home.
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