3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An important character from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration,
This review is from: Ice Captain: The Life of Joseph Russell Stenhouse (Hardcover)I've been reading books on the heroic age of Antarctic exploration since Nov 2011 when I realised that the centenary of Scott's expedition was upon us. Through the good offices of Amazon's "others also read..." sections, I saw a book called The Lost Men: The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party by Kelly Tyler Lewis. This is the much less known story of the support party to Shackleton's Transantarctic expedition, who were stranded at Cape Evans when their ship, the Aurora, was blown away, locked in the ice during a storm. Joseph Stenhouse was the captain of that ship, and lead it through an extraordinary drift that somewhat paralleled that of the Endurance on the other side of the continent. That the ship eventually made it back to safety was due in no small measure to Stenhouse's seamanship. And all at the age of just 26, if my maths is correct.
This book is the story of Stenhouse's life, and fills in the picture of a fascinating character - someone who was really a little out of time. It's not unreasonable that someone who had tasted adventure like that comparatively early in life would continue to seek it out. So, we read about Stenhouse's later service in the Great War on the armed merchant "mystery ships" hunting U-boats, organising a fleet of motor boats on the lakes of Northern Russia during the campaign against the Red Army in 1919, captaining the RRS Discovery on oceanographic expeditions, treasure-hunting in the South Pacific with fellow Antarctic veteran, Frank Worsley, and finally his naval service at the start of the Second World War leading to his eventual death.
The writing seems to me to be in a slightly reverential and rather straight-ahead style, but it doesn't pull too many punches. It's clear that Stenhouse was not without his faults but they are an essential part of his character and are described here. In reading some of the other books about the great Antarctic age, I've found myself wondering what happened to some of the survivors - beyond the typical paragraph that you get in an Appendix. This will give you the full and fascinating story. Well worth a read by anyone with an interest in Antarctic exploration or real-life adventure.