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South: The Endurance Expedition Paperback – 25 Nov 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; TV Tie in Ed edition (25 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140288864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140288865
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2.8 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 175,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Sir Ernest Shackleton is the archetypal British hero; a legendary figure in the history of polar exploration.

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91 of 91 people found the following review helpful By on 10 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
South is Ernest Shackleton's much praised report from his second expedition to the South Pole. The plan was to sail to the Weddell sea and march across the land mass of Antartica via the pole to the opposite side where another ship would collect the men and bring them home.
Naturally nothing went right. Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, was trapped in pack ice which sealed her in and eventually crushed her. Abandoning the ship, and unable to reach the continental land mass itself, Shackleton led his men from ice floe to ice floe, setting up camps and abandoning them when the floes broke in two (as they frequently did) eventually ending up on a tiny, unexplored island with only three ships boats to provide shelter and living off the scarce resources of an inhospitible land.
In simply the bravest move I have ever heard about, Shackleton decided that to reach help he had to sail across the southern Atlantic in a tiny open rowing boat to the island of South Georgia - over three hundred miles away. Once there and safely landed he then had to march across the desolate island to reach the whaling communities on the far side - something that had been thought of as impossible.
South made Shackleton's name as an explorer - and you can see why. The story is staggering - even more impressive when you consider that only one of Shacklton's party perished in their two year stay on the ice.
If I have any criticisms it is that lack of any review or explanation of the book by an editor. Penguin Classics, their reprinting of the works of the Classical writers, are all prefaced by an editor who provides much of the back story and explanations of the times in which the books were written.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Brown on 31 July 2003
Format: Paperback
Not being a writer myself, I feel that my simple use of words will struggle to give this book justice. It is a frank, first person account of an expedition that bordered on disaster, of heroic endurance, and leadership that you seldom hear of.
The book is similar to Shackleton's first writing, 'The Heart of the Antarctic' in that it is a report and it's style is very matter of fact. This limits the early and later chapters, because they chronicle and summarise the administrative parts of the expedition. Although it is important to understand the organisation, logistics and motives for Shackleton and his comrades, it does not provide the thrills that this book is famous for.
When the thrills come they hit you hard, and Shackleton's matter of fact style then begins to help you become absorbed in the way these men faced insurmountable odds, and continued bravely, knowing that failure would mean certain death. I found myself pausing during reading, just to sit and think about how terrible and helpless their situation became. It was at the most dire occasions that Shackleton's awe inspiring leadership and self belief showed most. I felt there was much to learn from his approach: 'A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground' Wise words from an exceptional man.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Harris on 12 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Quite simply awesome. And I don't use the word lightly, considering it is very much an overused word. Ernest Shackleton was a hero not only because of what he endured, but because of how he led. As opposed to Robert Scott who made a series of errors (as well as experiencing some genuine bad luck with inclement weather) culminating in disaster in 1912, Shackleton's primary concern above all aspects of his mission were the men under his command. In 1908 - on his earlier 'farthest south' expedition, he turned himself and his men around when within reach of the elusive Pole. He had realised that due to depleted rations and muscles, in the face of extremely adverse weather, if they attained their stated aim of the Pole, they would not return alive. As it was, he had to be hauled on a sledge for the last slog by his two exhausted team-mates, as he was too weakened to carry on unaided...

This book tells the almost incredible tale of how his 1914 expedition failed early in its stated aims, but ultimately triumphed against a series of truly fearsome circumstances in the most inhospitable place on earth. Survival on the ice after the crushing destruction of their ship the Endurance, followed by the break-up of the ice and the harrowing escape over the ice floes into the open waters on board the Endurance's 3 lifeboats until the sanctuary of the bleak Elephant Island. Here is where the story begins anew as 'Uncle' Shackleton and 5 men depart for help leaving behind the remaining expedition team on the remote barren island with a protective shelter of 2 upturned lifeboats and a veneer of sealskins, and a diet consisting of pemmican hoosh, ship biscuit, seal blubber and seal meat when that could be hunted...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. D. Fraser on 31 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Shackletons first hand account of his doomed transatlantic expedition is undoubtably a story of the utmost fortitude and endurance, from Shackletons crew as well as himself.

True he fails to acknowledge that it was largely his own shortcomings that got his team into such a mess in the first place, but it is hardly fair to expect that from him. What comes across loud and clear is the undoubted and total loyalty that he inspired in others.

The book is a very fluent read, as Shackleton's always are. It certainly gives one a real feel for the privations they suffered. Just a pity that he sullied his copybook by his mean-spirited decision to deny the polar exploration medal to three of his crew. Chippy McNish played as big a part as anyone in the escape and he should have been done justice.
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