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Shackleton's Dream: Fuchs, Hillary and the Crossing of Antarctica
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2012
In this history of a polar expedition little remembered and but poorly documented prior to Mr Haddelsey's book, the courage, enterprise and endurance of those involved are recognised and ably recorded. The writer's enthusiasm for the undertaking and his admiration of the spirit of adventure which actuated the enterprise are apparent.
Once the expedition is underway, the pace of the narrative is impressively brisk.
The use of period detail is insightful and aptly conducive to an understanding of the hardships experienced, and to the wider context within which men and machinery operated during the expedition.
The book serves as an appreciative tribute to the audacity and stubbornness of the members of the expedition, particularly in relation to the predictably inadequate organisational skills of its leaders.
One quibble only - the font is ridiculously undersized.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2012
The level of detail in this book is impressive.. It's clearly intricately well-researched - often verified with the first hand testimonies from remaining members of the TAE which helps to put across the story of a major expedition which seems to have slipped from the public conciousness. Stephen Haddelsey helps to shed light once more on the trials of the two parties picking their way slowly towards each other from either side of the Antarctic landmass.

It's also a story of a battle of wills, of Hillary's aspirations and drive to get to the south pole in advance of Fuchs' party and the often understated war of words between themselves (and in Hillary's case) the expedition's controlling board in London too. The frustration and accounts of both men are treated even handedly though in the book and the added testimonies from other members' diaries and surviving members too help give a very 'real' and often dramatic account of the developing journeys.

The TAE was clearly a major expedition of the like we no longer see. As it says in the book, one of the last on the scale of the major expeditions of the Heroic age of Polar Exploration. Sadly the many achievements in early motorised polar travel, and the scientific activity this expedition achieved also seem to have been lost in the mists of time. Thankfully this book details them too so that we know once more about the wider successes (and often scientific firsts) brought about by the TAE.

A good read and an important addition to the body of Polar writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2012
At last an independent look at one of the last outstanding journeys in the world.This book is an account of The Commonwealth Trans Antarctic Expedition of 1955 - 58. It is based on comprehensive research that includes the private papers of the leaders of the enterprise, the diaries of most of the participants and offical papers from Government committees. The last is of great interest for we get a close view of the political bickering and personal ambitions of those involved in the planning and organisation of the enterprise.
Once the Expedition sets sails we have a comprehensive account of what actually went on and of the reaction of individuals who took part The account is far from the official account of distances covered and adverse weather conditions rather we are taken into the intimate matters of how difficult decisions were made, risked assessed and mistakes made.
The personalities of the leaders Fuchs and Hillary and the major participants are analysed and critically reviewed. That not everything went smoothly throughout was well known, the reasons behind the errors and their consequences are well described here. Such complex enterprises inevitably go wrong but the faulty decisions and their consequences are clearly outlined. However, what shines through is the determination of the men to complete the task despite all vicissitudes. The heroes are not the the leaders but the troops on the ground; the individuals who stand out are the engineers who kept the frail vehicles going in terrible conditions, the lone seismographer who stuck to is scientific plan through thick and this, the flyers who worked their planes under despite accidents and most difficult conditions. Stephen Haddelsey brings to life a group of men all with their own ambitions and mtivations, their contrasting personalities eventually working towards a common goal wonderfully achieved.
The book is a remarkable tour-de-force describing for the first time what an expedition of this sort is all about, not all bonhomie and light yet finally working together toward the great common goal.I believe it is a unique account by an author who has been able to stand back, has no ax to grind but who triumphantly takes the reader behind the scenes to illuminate what it was really like
Professor Rainer Goldsmith (Medical Officer and Physiologist with the Advanced Party)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2013
This book is an absolutely superb account of a forgotten expedition, the 1957-58 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Dr. Vivian Fuchs. Fuchs and his team should be remembered for their achievement but this has not been the case until now - this book is the definitive account, filling in a gap in the written record. Fuchs' book has been reprinted but Mr Haddelsey's book adds to this with the accounts of those who took part and so many other details not available elsewhere. It is extremely well written and researched, and thoroughly enjoyable to read. It is very hard to put down, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

As a former Antarctic research scientist, I have read lots of polar literature and this is a book I will read again and again. I read Fuchs' book first, and this book adds so much more value to Fuchs' account of the expedition. Some expedition members are still alive and I hope their achievements will be recognised with this book.

Main achievements:
First surface crossing of Antarctica
First air crossing of Antarctica
First successful return trip to South Pole from McMurdo Sound
The second of only three teams of dogs ever to have travelled to the South Pole (led by Ken Blaiklock)
Development of efficient deep field exploration techniques: small dog teams for surveying, replenished by aircraft as well as the use of aircraft for route planning, depot laying and remote base construction
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2012
Congratulations to Mr. Haddelsey on a wonderfully researched and fantastically detailed account of the TAE 1955 to 1958. His style is very readable and engaging and it certainly filled in a lot of gaps in our knowledge. This book provided an insight into all the characters, the good points, trials and dangers that, as far we know, have never been revealed in such depth before.

Anyone who enjoys a real life adventure would enjoy reading this. Just to add, that the index is excellent - and love the atmospheric photo on the book cover!
Paul and Colin Rogers (sons of Dr. Allan Rogers, Medical Officer, Fuchs' Party)
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on 4 December 2014
A well researched account of what is sadly now a little acknowledged achievement of the logistics, travel and survival in the Antarctic. Accepting that Ernest Shackleton is the in vogue Antarctic Explorer, it is none the less a shame that the successful Trans Antarctic Expedition is not given credit for its remarkable achievement and that the names of Fuchs and Hillary are so seldom mentioned. The author is to be congratulated in his attempt to remedy this wrong.
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on 10 May 2013
Interesting - I travelled from New Zealand to the U. K. on the Rangitoto with the members of the Antarctic Expedition in 1958 and came to know a few of them. I originally borrowed this book from the library, but returned the library copy and purchased my own.
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on 27 November 2014
Interesting account. Worthwhile addition to the literature.
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