on 24 July 2001
A testament to the human spirit. If this was a film, you'd classify it as pure fantasy. This account details Shackleton's party's escape from the antartic, a gruelling slog by foot accross broken ice, a perilous voyage though the ice flow and two fantastic journeys accross the Southern Ocean in boats no bigger than ones you see down the boating lake.
The fantastic feats are woven with accounts of everyday life... you can feel the cold, you wonder at how they survived in nothing more than waterlogged layers of heavy tweed and a few furs.
By the end of the book you are left in no doubt that given intelligence, determination, teamwork and belief (forget super human qualities or luck), human beings are very difficult to kill.
Someone in the preface is asked which antartic explorer they most admired, i'll paraphrase, for science - Scott, for determination - Admunsen, if i was in a tight spot with no apparant hope - Shackleton every time.
To find yourself having no choice but to set out to sea, in the middle of a south polar winter, with the only hope of rescue 800 miles off would reduce most people to despair. It's a mark of the stuff that these men were made of that they reached their goal, intact, then went back to rescue their comrades.
I find it difficult to imagine how they navigated in those high (=low!) latitudes, in a roiling sea, howling gales and limited visibility; Worsley tells you how...
He also has the writers' gift of transporting you from your comfortable chair to the freezing, wet, cramped conditions of their boat - and yet still bringing to life the thoughts and feelings of this rare breed of men.
This should be recommended reading for all teenagers, so they should understand what life can dole out, but yet you can still turn the tables on fate, instead of sitting back and letting life ride roughshod over you.
on 11 February 2012
This book is perfect for anyone wanting to read in more detail about the incredible boat journey that Frank Worsley and five other men took from Elephant Island to South Georgia in the James Caird. Worsley's narrative fleshes out Shackleton's formal account of the Endurance expedition and gives a fascinating insight into the experiences of this group of survivors. Format-wise, the book is a retrospective account of the journey, interspersed with entries from Worsley's log written at the time.
Worsley includes a detailed explanation of how he navigated during the South Atlantic crossing, along with the challenges of navigation in partially unchartered waters. He also gives an insight into the pressure he was under at this time, knowing that the entire party's lives depended on his accurate navigation. His description of conditions aboard the boat are wince-inducing and it's staggering that any of them survived that journey, let alone the crossing of South Georgia's mountain ranges.
Worsley also sheds light on the care Shackleton took of his men, describing him as "fussy" and "almost womanlike" in his attentions to everyone's health. He recalls how Shackleton gave his last pair of dry socks to one of the men, regularly stayed awake so others could sleep longer and made everyone stop for a drink of hot milk if he thought one of the men was struggling.
There is a very good selection of glossy photographs in this book. Many are fairly famous but there are several that I had never seen before, including some of the sea camps and the whaling station at Grytviken. I would advise reading Shackleton's `South' before reading this, as his full account of the expedition puts Worsley's account of the latter half into context. After reading this book you will never again feel justified in complaining about being cold!
on 10 January 2001
A fascinating account of a struggle for survival against the odds. This books concentrates on the final stages of Shackleton & Co.s desparate crossing between Elephant Island and South Georgia, a magnificent feat, and the final mountaineering challenge undertaken to effect the rescue of expeditions members. A book that all, sailors, mountaineers and other adventurers should read. One I will certainly read again.
on 24 February 2013
This is one of those books that leaves a lasting impression. I have handled small boats in storm conditions a few times, and have always found it an extremely unnerving experience. However, what makes Shackleton's journey extraordinary (rather than just unnerving) is that it was undertaken by men who were already worn out from previous exertions, in the notorious southern ocean, crammed into in a 22 foot boat, and navigating without the benefit of modern clothing, or navigational aids such as GPS. The book is relatively short, but this is partly because it avoids excessive detail. This means that the excitement levels are kept high. The writing style is also very personal, and the language and foibles of early 20th century exploration come through in an entertaining manner, providing another interesting dimension to the book.
on 25 September 2002
There have been a great deal of books written about the exploits of Earnest Shackleton and in particular his now famous boat journey across stormy waters of the South Pacific Ocean. This book is of particular interest as it was written by one of the protagonists of the adventure, Frank Worsley. Written in a simple and workmanlike style it faithfully recounts the events of the great sea journey and the subsequent walk over the mountains of South Georgia to final rescue.
The book offers little insight in to the minds and personalities of the author or his comrades during the journey. Likewise comments about Shackleton, though written with obvious respect, are rather guarded. There are one or two tantalising hints that they did not always see eye to eye but these are never explored.
The book is not without a certain charm however - Worsley keeps the narrative flowing along briskly and the reader does gain an understanding of the great challenges and hazards the men in their little boat faced.
This is a book that will appeal more to fans of this genre than the general reader.
on 11 January 2014
Get it from the horses mouth, as it were. Shackleton gives a good account and praises Worsley. You can get so much from the account from one of the best captains ever and an absolutely superb navigator. The 2013 re-ceated copy cat trip had safety back up, and started fresh from Elephant Island, all healthy. They did not move base on South Georgia, or lose their rudder . No 14 months deprivation in pack ice for them, no. Read and be dumbstruck at the achievement of the Shackleton boat journey, Also read Lansing's 'Endurance' and Huntford's biography 'Shackleton' . Then you'll know what REAL MEN were!
on 26 June 2011
This is the best and most famous account of the destruction of Shackleton's expeditionary endeavours in the Antarctic, both physically and aspirationally. Told by that most complete professional seaman and navigator, Frank Worsley, whom Shackleton was inspired to appoint as captain of the "Endurance", it has never been equalled as a straight and understated narrative of unrelenting hardship stoically and heroically endured. Told as it is with such economy of style, it is often essential to pause and take in just what it is this man is recalling. The very first page sets the tone. In three and a half lines their fine ship is caught in the ice, drifts with it, is crushed, the ship's boats, with great foresight, saved through enormous effort and got onto the ice, where on the broken floes they survive for three full seasons, moving meanwhile 800 miles in the wrong direction, before making the move to start saving themselves by launching the boats into perilous leads of sea. The voyages of the three boats bearing all the members of the expedition through every kind of peril - storms, fog, broken ice, savage cold and near-starvation - to a bare toehold on desolate Elephant Island, and from there by six picked men in the "James Caird" on the famous mission to South Georgia for help, forms the rest of this slim book. This indomitable crew, which included the master seaman, Worsley and the three iron Irishmen, Shackleton himself, Crean and McCarthy, got through the madness of the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean and made a miraculous landing on the island of South Georgia. Dividing into three again and after a brief rest, they set off to traverse the ice and snow of the mountains of the interior to the whaling station at the east end of the island, in itself another epic of endurance over 40 hours of slog for men who simply didn't know how to give up. Shackleton was able to organise a ship to rescue all of the crew. Not a single life was lost, which says much for Shackleton's great care, and even love, for his lionhearted men. Having left before the Great War, they returned in 1916 to a western Europe and an England where all was changed, changed utterly and forever.
Get this jewel of a book.now, happily, reprinted and read it slowly. Read between the lines and even the words, and try to feel what it must have been like to have been pitched against the worst of conditions in the most inhospitable place on earth, with none at all of any kind of communication to the outside world, and with only strength, courage, will and comradeship to rely on. You begin to realise, through these men, what Tennyson, in his "Ulysses", meant when he wrote, "To strive, to seek, to find, but not to yield". A great seaman, and a great and sparing writer too, and one who had an eye for beauty in the midst of struggle against Nature, Worsley has left us with an immortal testament to the nobility of man undergoing the ultimate test.
on 12 November 2014
A really gripping true story. It is hard to believe that anyone could make this sort of trip.
The trip was made to save his shipmates and himself from certain death so it had to be done, but the skill in navigating such distances in an open boat in the storms and the cold must be appreciated, I was a former navigator so I can appreciate the skill required to hit such a small island, miss it by a couple of miles and that would have been the end.
Then there is the physical effort required to do it, unbelievable. All this with no satellite radios, no GPS, the sailors of today do not know how lucky they are. A good read.