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.