This was Radio 4's book of the week, and I caught a couple of episodes. I had already decided I'd probably get the book, although I was pretty familiar with the Franklin story and the repeated attempts on the North West Passage, have several books on the topic and a forebear who commanded an early Arctic Naval expedition in which Franklin commanded the smaller vessel (shamefully not mentioned by M. Palin!) It was never less than riveting, the research was excellent, and even reading it in Kindle version with the pictures all at the end, it was a superb read. Of course the Canadians' discovery of the wreck of the Erebus (and later the Terror) added to the immediacy of it all. I found it moving, and maddening by turns. I'd never seen the reproduced daguerrotypes of the Erebus's officers - so revealing . It was, as the title implies, a story of the ship, so there was the interesting early years and the great Antarctic expeditions of James Clark Ross where HM Ships Erebus & Terror gave their names to the volcanoes and lands of the deepest south. I always think of Ross (Ice shelf), Weddell (Sea) but now add the unfortunate Crozier to the geography of the frozen areas of the world. Michael Palin really brought the characters, and their various jostlings for position and favour, to life. A fantastic read for anyone who is interested in this field, and maybe an eye opener for those with a general interest in history who are merely tempted by the famous name of the author.
A most excellent and well researched book to add to the almost library sized works now written about Franklin and the infamous expedition. I think this is the first one that turns focus on the actual ship though and tells the well known disaster story from a different angle. Written also in Palin's usual engaging and very easily readable style, the book is well worth a read if you are interested not only in the Franklin Expedition but also in British Maritime history.
An excellent book by a well-known author who gives us an in-depth look at the lives and tragic ends of the Victorian ships Erebus and Terror who were lost with all hands in an epic journey to find the North-West Passage around the northern extremes of Canada in the mid- nineteenth century. All of the crew were lost to history and not discovered until the 1990's with the 2 ships being found in 2014 and 2016 through submarine echo-location. Sir John's grave has never been discovered. Whilst doing research for the book, Michael actually visited many of the places mentioned in the log books, diaries and letters of the crew which makes the story all the more poignant when you read about the horrific conditions that they suffered on the journey. All in all a splendid yarn and I thoroughly recommend it to all who enjoy a good story with larger than life characters - in particular those of the ships Erebus and Terror.
The first half of the story is gripping and astonishing. Trapped in ice so what do you do? Oh, or course, carve out a pub and have a festival.
The description of the escape from a continuous ice flow in a storm is just stunning. That men can enter into such frightening and hopeless situations and survive is just incredible.
The trouble is that the second half of the adventure can't compete. As both ships were lost so were the first hand accounts. Michael is left to report on the speculation and the rescue attempts. Still great reading but in the first half of the book we sail on the deck of the Erabus, in the second half we look for the ship's shadow.
...I have read several books on Franklins lost and tragic exspedition, Mr Palins is by far the easiest to read and accept. Well researched, it has his human touch and twinkle of humour that makes this tale so readable. A sad story of some mystery brought to our cosy lives through optomistic letters to loved ones and solid practical research by the author. Highly Recomend!
After wondering myself for many years about the Franklin ships, how eloquently and with much humility Palin offers a full explanation to why the next ball should not be hit for six again when exploring poles.
Aboard the Erebus his enlightening first encounter with the Ross Ice shelf and active volcano, the ocean teeming with whales, is straight out of space exploration in its magic the moment described in precious precision even down to some of the crew members upon whom it was another day at work. The epic voyages to Antarctica could not really have been more triumphant.
The strength of the book is its compare-and-contrast presentation of the two missions, diagnosing accurately the failings of the Franklin with the strengths of the Ross. Franklin had not changed the tactics to suit the terrain or the useful presence of humans all around him, his vessels too well equipped to act as prison hulks for bored sailors. Palin captures the early warning signs that this was to be the case, and leaves us keen to hear what details the wrecks may further yield to the story which we know at least by chapter headings.
Palin is the ideal shipmate on the these voyages and I feel as if I have been carried in his mind's eye throughout.
The story of two ships that explored firstly Antarctica and then the Arctic. Today we layer ourselves to maintain body heat, so it is no small wonder explorers of almost 180 years ago perished from the cold. Michael Palin travels a different journey from his usual galavanting and with each turn of the page I was almost tempted to put on another layer of warm clothing, so graphic was his description of conditions at thd north and south extremities of our planet. An interesting historical read about early and adventurous explorers
Even though you know the tragic ending, this is a gripping story. Palin is as entertaining and interesting as a writer as he is as a presenter. These extraordinary men who set sail for months on end into the arctic and antarctic were real heroes. It's impossible to imagine what it could have been like to have been trapped in the ice, perhaps knowing you were going to die. No sat nav in those days ... our modern day "explorers" pale into insignificance beside them!
There have been many books about this tragic voyage but none feel a personal as this. Michael Palin has the gift of storytelling. Together with his solid research and knowledge he's written a beautiful book about a tragic period in exploration. The way he writes draws you in and you really feel like you know the main characters and their struggles...such is his writing style. I would implore anyone interested in this story to add this to their reading list....you will not be disappointed.