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Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

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The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. When their ship was finally crushed between two ice floes, they attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization.

In Endurance, the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age.

First edition: here.

282 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1959

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About the author

Alfred Lansing

12 books143 followers
An American journalist who wrote for Collier's, among other magazines and was later an editor for Time, Inc. Books.

Alfred Lansing served in the US Navy from 1940-46. He received the Purple Heart for his wartime service.

Later he attended North Park College, 1946-48, Northwestern University, 1948-50.

Lansing became a member of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England in 1957.

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Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
February 6, 2012
Behold...the gentleman whose exploits crushed the last vestiges of manhood from my fragile psyche*:
* Psst....don’t mention this to my wife as she thinks she took care of this years ago.

Stranded for over a year in the most inhospitable climate on the face of the Earth, literally one tiny step away from complete disaster due to starvation, extreme weather or the ice flows on which they lived deciding to crack and deposit into the freezing depths below.


Holy persevering manliness Batman, I was wincing, shuddering and cringing just reading about this ordeal from the creaturey comfort of my toasty, warm bed while maintaining a glass of wine within reaching distance. Now I’m not a non-fiction, survival story expert, but this has to be pretty close to the absolute limit of human endurance, both physically and psychologically. This is one of the stories that will reset your perspective on what the human animal is capable of and I highly recommend you avail yourself of the opportunity to reboot your mind-set.

It will make your daily grind seem like a daily paradise.


The story tells of the amazing, nut-shrinking, bowel-tightening, faith-testing, life-affirming expedition of Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 as they were stranded while trying to make the first trans-antarctic crossing in 1914. There’e no way I can convey to you in this review the sense of astonishment and awe that you’ll get from being witness to 300 pages of constant, relentless, extreme hardship and danger and the ceaseless intrepidity and unmitigated strength of will exhibited in by these men.

Therefore, here are some highlights and photos that offer just a taste of what these men went through:


**Saltwater Boils (aka pips or pigeons)...a condition where grit and dirt from clothing (usually around the wrists) create small abrasions that become infected and cause severe pain if not treated. These things were mentioned as a casual, passing comment and all I could think was “they had to suffer through those for months with no medical attention and only making them worse.” [No photos of this. A little too gross]

**Using packed snow as toilet paper...not just once mind you, but for almost a year. Not trying to be overly graphic here, but can you imagine the soreness and chafing that this led to in a part of the body that does not abide chafing. Add to that the diet that these men had to endure and the increased strain it placed on the bowels and my privileged mind was aching with imagined pain. [Again, photos withheld because I couldn't find any for propriety's sake]

**Anemomainia (aka “wind madness”)...are you fucking kidding me? I had never heard of this before but this is a condition whereby normal people go bat-shitty bonkers when exposed to constant severe winds that simply...do...not...stop. Leave it to Mother Nature to come up with this unusual form of torture...nasty bitch. And while I’m not showing photos of ice-wiping or grit boils here is a shot that gives you some idea of the winds these men were facing (up to 100+ mph):

** 80 hours without sleep. At one point, a group of men with Shackleton survived for over 3 full days without sleep. I may not sleep as much as most people, but you take away my shut eye for 24 hours and I'm apt to go on a 3 state killing-spree. At most, these guys got a bit cranky.

** Dogs, Penguins and Sea Leopards...oh my. The only diet these men had for over a year consisted of penguins, one sea leopard and, eventually, their own dogs. This last part was incredibly moving because the men, for all of their hunger, were reluctant to resort to these brave animals that had been their stout companions throughout the ordeal. In the end, they did what they had to and the animal lover in me had zero issue with it. Respectful, sad and necessary.

** Removal of gangrenous appendages. Nuff said I think except for the almost preternatural courage and good humor with which the enterprise was conducted.

These were a group of rare individuals.


Lansing’s prose is wonderfully balanced. He tells the story without hyperbole or excess melodrama and lets the reality of the tale provide all of the drama and tension. It is more than enough to keep you white-knuckled and awed. The journal entries and notes from the men involved, to which Lansing had unprecedented access, provide essential flavor to the story and increase the sense of intimacy.

Throughout the hellish ordeal endured by these men, the two things that struck me more than anything else were: (1) the unfailing sense of good will and camaraderie that persisted between the men and (2) that NO ONE DIED. I’m not sure which fact was more astounding to me but they are both truly worthy of an eye-bulging jaw-drop.

A truly inspirational saga of men prevailing over seemingly impossible odds and nightmarish conditions and making this sacrifice at the alter of the human need for exploration and the conquering of the unknown.

Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
September 16, 2018
oh my god i feel like i haven't written a review in ages.

goodreads.com, how you holding up without my pearls of wisdom??

i was going to write a DBR of this last night, because that's what shackleton would do, but then i ended up eating candy and doodling instead, and that is why i live a life of mediocrity and insignificance and i am not like shackleton, who ran into some trouble on a boat ride and managed to triumph over impossible odds.


that's what i love the most - his unflagging optimism and good-naturedness. i can't even handle it when customers put their water bottles or umbrellas on the books, i wanna smack them like a seal in the arctic. i could never hang with shackleton; retail has roooned my sunny disposition.

shackleton...such wonderful, harrowing stuff...he led a group of men into a dangerous situation and they behaved like grown men and survived, improbably. i need to meet me some explorers. these boymen on the subway with their e-readers and their sculpted hair - what would happen to them, slapped on a boat on a moving glacier in the middle of nowhere, all frostbitten and without their cell phones - so cold that the fluid in their blisters turned to ice!!??...i don't think they would make it. doomed!! i see all these gym-hard people, but not life-hard people - no shackletons. your abs are of no use in the antarctic seas, mister!! i expect this situation is on account of where i live and all, but surely there has to be one polar-explorer type wandering through queens, looking for a lady to tell his tales of adventure to! let me be that lady!! i will fill you with pulled pork and onions!!

this feels like a DBR, but i assure you, it is not.

i just get really excited about shackleton.

i had read shackleton's stowaway, so i pretty much knew everything that was going to go down, but i still highly recommend this to anyone, really. except dana. because of the amputation and all. but anyone else - thumbs up.

this book deserved a better review.
but the pork and onions are calling.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
1,965 reviews672 followers
March 13, 2022
Update 3/9/2022
The wreck of HMS Endurance had been found TODAY by Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and History Hit, four miles from where captain Frank Worsley said it sank. It's said to be intact and in good condition. See link and photo below.
Remarkable! A riveting survival story and unbelievable adventure.

Ernest Shackleton and 27 of his crew against all odds endure the hardship of Antarctica after The Endurance was stuck in ice. They didn't give up. She drifted and was crushed. On October 27, 1915, they abandoned the ship with supplies and three lifeboats. Chilling and worth a listen. This is included with Audible (USA).

Wikipedia, Endurance under sail, Antarctic Ocean, c. 1915, by Frank Hurley

By Rachael Bletchly for The Mirror Hunt launched to find Shackleton's lost ship Endurance...

Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,051 reviews577 followers
December 2, 2022
I've read my share of leadership texts over the years – an occupational necessity for a while – and a name I came across more than once was Ernest Shackleton. Some sources reckoned him to be possibly the greatest leader that ever lived. Well that’s some claim and it’s something I knew I'd have to look into sooner or later. So when I came across this book, originally published in 1959, the time had finally arrived.

I knew that the man was an Antarctic explorer but precious little else. I soon learned that after having twice previously failed to reach the South Pole, in 1914 he set off with a 28 man crew hell bent on becoming the first person to cross the Antarctic continent. If you don’t already know the story then I’ll not spoil it by giving a full run down of how it played out but what I will say is that quite early on Shackleton’s ship, Endurance, was crushed by ice flows leaving everyone stranded on the ice pack. They were left in a truly desperate situation, exposed in the freezing cold hundreds of miles from any civilisation and with no means of contacting any potential source of assistance. It was to take well over a year for events to unfold to a conclusion.

This really is an amazing adventure story. I'd even go so far as to say that were I to have been told that this was a work of fiction I'd have dismissed it as overblown and way too far fetched to be believable. The story is brilliantly told and I enjoyed it all the more for having had no pre-knowledge of these events. It's been pieced together from first hand accounts handed down through interviews with members of the crew and from diary entries (some of the crew kept diaries throughout the ordeal). I found myself totally gripped by this account. The terrible conditions the crew faced and the many acts of daring, bravery and stoicism reported here are truly humbling.

And what of Shackleton’s leadership qualities? Well he definitely had a style I struggle to recognise from my business experience but there’s no doubt that he did display many of the acknowledged skills and behaviours we’re told are essential for any good leader. He was open and honest (sometimes brutally so), also decisive and he certainly employed effective delegation. He showed, too, a readiness to improvise, an ability to get the group working as a team and he maintained throughout a faith and optimism that simply beggars belief. The best ever? I'm not sure about that but he pulled off the virtually impossible, so maybe he truly does deserve this accolade.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,097 followers
December 21, 2019
A captivating and inspiring tale of exploration, human endurance and survival.

In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men set sail for the South Atlantic on board a ship called the Endurance. The expedition was to cross the Antarctic overland. In October of 1915 the ship became trapped and crushed in Ice and the crew now half a continent away from their intended base became castaways in one of the most hostile regions in the world.

I have had this book on my TBR list for quite awhile and am so glad I finally got around to reading it. I knew a little about the expedition due to the fact that one of the Crew members was an Irish Man called Tom Creen and I would have heard stories of his expeditions down the years but never actually read a book.

This is a slow burner of a read but at the same time compelling and intense. What amazing courage and stamina these men had, they must have had nerves and bodies of steel and withstand so much.
Extremely well written and while not an easy read it certainly had me on the edge of my seat.

I listened to his one on audible and the narrator Simon Prebble was excellent, although I cant help wondering if I missed photos, maps etc in the printed copy which I always find adds so much to a book.

However there is an amazing documentary filmed and photographed by one of the crew on You Tube which I have linked below.

my link text

Highly recommend this one to readers who enjoy adventure stories.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books336 followers
March 3, 2014
There aren't many true-life tales that live up to the hype. There are always some details that make the story just a little less dramatic than in the made-for-TV movie. Not this time. While listening to this audiobook, the thought that went through my head over and over again was "Holy s***!" The book starts with the Endurance, trapped in the Antarctic ice, being literally crushed to death. The men abandon ship, and then float on the ice pack for months. When the pack breaks up, they launch the lifeboats they salvaged from the Endurance and land on Elephant Island. Then Shackleton sets off again in one of the lifeboats, crossing the incredibly dangerous Drake Passage in nothing more than a 22-foot open boat, hoping to reach South Georgia to come back with a relief ship for the men left behind on Elephant Island.

The whole epic voyage takes over a year, and every single day, they were one wave, misstep, or blizzard away from being wiped out in an instant. That any of them survived is amazing; that everyone did is unbelievable. Alfred Lansing wrote this book from the journals the men kept, which gave him a very detailed picture of every stage of this journey. It's a tense thriller all the way through, and will make you so incredibly glad you have never had to go through anything like this. When Shackleton finally stumbles into a whaling camp on South Georgia Island and announces himself, you will have a hard time not feeling a lump in your throat.

As affecting as the unbelievable odds these men beat is the unbelievable hardships they endured. They teetered on the verge of starvation and freezing to death, lived and slept in the most miserably wet, frozen conditions, with little protection from blizzards and gale-force winds. They lived for months on pack ice! Lansing does not stint on the grimy, unpleasant details of day-to-day existence under these circumstances, like having to go outside to empty the communal urine pot in a gale, or taking a dump over the side of a boat that is being tossed about by rough seas (and surrounded by killer whales just in case the poor bastards didn't have enough to think about), or having to kill and eat their dogs, or having to cut off gangrenous toes. Every time you think it can't possibly suck worse to be them, it sucks worse.

Absolutely a thrilling read, and will really make you appreciate how grueling and miserable this expedition was, and how awesome their achievement was just in surviving.
Profile Image for Christine on hiatus, see “About me”.
589 reviews1,136 followers
June 2, 2021
5 magnificent stars!!!

This book just about killed me! Holy Cow, Holy Cow! I must have burned 1000 calories reading this one; my legs were jiggling like crazy, my fingernails were bitten to the quick, my heart was just a’going. I must have yelled Holy Cow a million times. Endurance has suddenly shot in the lead for the title of my book of 2021. Quite a feat as I’ve read some big winners already.

Go in as cold as you can. As framework for the read, the Endurance is the ship Ernest Shackleton and the 27 crew members making up the Imperial Trans-Antarctica Expedition set sail on in 1914. Their goal is to be the first party to traverse the entire continent of Antarctica. Many people already know the Endurance is disabled very early on. It’s what comes after that makes this story so incredibly gripping. The group has no choice but to rescue themselves as no one else knows where they are. This is a true tale of man versus nature. And nature is not so nice in this part of the world. The book is at once informative, highly suspenseful, terrifying, heart-wrenching, spellbinding, and at times unbelievable. But believe it. This story is true.

Author Alfred Lansing does a magnificent job pulling the book together. He relies heavily on first person accounts and the many diaries kept by the crew to lend the narrative credibility. The party includes Leonard Hussey, a photographer, who takes many beautiful shots during the expedition, several of them featured in the e-version of the book that I read.

I read this slowly as I was continually shifting from the text to the “Define” button (learning lots of new words related to perilous travel in the Antarctic) to Google (looking up map after map tracking the journey). I learned more geography from this book than I ever picked up in school.

I valued the roster of all 28 men and their ship jobs listed at the front of the book. I referred to it often. Because the author makes these people individuals, I came to care for many of them. These men display such bravery, strength, and perseverance. How they endure! The title of the book I think speaks more of them than the ship. It was hard not to root for all of them, even the least popular Orde-Lees. This pessimist and shirker extraordinaire earned big points from me by taking the frostbit feet of another man and putting them under his shirt directly on his chest in an effort to warm them up in the subzero weather.

The environment is expertly portrayed and transports the reader directly into the scene. I drank lots of hot tea during the reading of Endurance. The author also renders an excellent picture of the day-to-day life of these people, including how the men live, pass the time, and work to keep their spirits up when not on the seas.

The last 15% or so was literally unputdownable, a feeling I recall experiencing only once before. The epilogue was much appreciated. I cried as I read the last page, not so much because of the ending, but just because I was finished with the book. I am buying a copy to keep (I’ve done this only maybe 3-4 times in the past) and plan to read more of these adventurous nonfiction history books. What a way to finally cherish my history lessons! I recommend without reservations Endurance for everyone.
Profile Image for Julie G .
883 reviews2,742 followers
June 28, 2013
I am almost unable to express my feelings about this amazing and unbelievable story. I finished the last paragraph with tears running down my face and shaking my head in disbelief.

If this were a work of fiction, you'd barely believe it, but you'd credit Alfred Lansing for his story-telling and imagination.

It's not fiction, and you can't help but find yourself in a perpetual state of awe over these men and their optimism, faith, humor, determination, and endurance.

I felt quite unworthy on every page.

Shackleton and his men, who quickly become "as helpless and isolated from the outside world as if they were on another planet," show you, just as quickly, the best that humans can be.

And, Alfred Lansing brings them all back to life with his concise and inspired writing.

Profile Image for Daren.
1,299 reviews4,370 followers
August 21, 2021
Lansing has done a fantastic job of his painstaking research to bring this book to life. The level of detail, and personal detail he has been able to include is testament to his poring over the diaries of the men, extracting the detail and pulling it into a coherent context.

The story is well known enough - Shackleton's 1914 Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition set out from England in the Endurance upon the outbreak of war, having offered the ship and crew into naval service, and been asked by Churchill to continue on their expedition.
After leaving the South Georgia Islands, Endurance entered the pack ice and for two weeks made its way through the ice. battling away with the engine to try and reach an open passage, became fast in the ice-floe.
On 18 January, the ship became bound up in the ice, and here the men lived within the bounds of the ship, as the ice continually tested the strength of the hull. Endurance withstood the pressure of the ice for many month, until Eventually the ice won over and started to tear away the sternpost and allow water to enter the hull. Pumping was barely able to keep pace, and with the next surge in pressure beams broke and decks buckled, and the rudder as torn free. The ship was abandoned.
On November 21, 1915, 25 days after leaving the ship to camp up on the ice, Endurance was briefly raised by the ice sheets, and then sunk below the surface. Within 10 minutes the ice had closed over the opening...

This was, however, only the start of Shackleton's story - along with the other 27 men.

For a relatively short book, the story is epic.
I can't recommend this enough for anyone remotely interested in the power of human spirit, endurance, optimism and determination. An Antarctic survival story which would never have been accepted if it were written as fiction.

5 stars.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,844 reviews517 followers
June 13, 2021
Although this book was nonfiction, it read like a thriller. The author interviewed survivors of the ill-fated 1914 expedition to Antarctica and also used some of their diaries as his source material. I wanted to learn a little about this expedition after seeing a play in which Ernest Shackleton was a character. (It was actually a strange little musical, and not particularly good, but it managed to pique my interest.)

Shackleton was a flamboyant, arrogant adventurer, who was interested in fame, glory and cash. Not necessarily in that order. Even when facing his probable death, one of his chief concerns was the commercial exploitation of the story of the Endurance. After the Endurance was crushed by ice, the explorers attempted to drag their two remaining ships across the ice. This didn't go well and finally, after many hardships, it was up to Shackleton to attempt the rescue of 22 of his men stranded on a barren island locked in by ice. It was quite a story.

Necessarily, there was a great deal of repetitiveness to the story. The men were stuck in basically the same situation for almost 2 years. All there was to write about was ice, cold, snow, weather, food (or the lack of food), dog sledding (or killing dogs), sighting land, being unable to reach the land, sickness, pain, courage, despair, hopefulness, arrogance and bad decisions. All in various permutations. Nevertheless, the book was certainly not boring. Simon Prebble was the narrator of the audiobook and he did an excellent job.
Profile Image for Woman Reading .
431 reviews269 followers
August 10, 2021
Fortitudine vincimus—“By endurance we conquer.”

I listened to Endurance in October, exactly 105 years after the ship Endurance was crushed by the ice pack in the Weddell Sea, off of the continent of Antarctica. It took less than a month before the ship succumbed to its watery grave, but Shackleton's crew had already abandoned hope of accomplishing their original goal.
Thus their plight was naked and terrifying in its simplicity. If they were to get out - they had to get themselves out.

It had all begun with an ambitious idea from Sir Ernest Shackleton. He had missed out on being the first to reach the South Pole during his second expedition to Antarctica; that was Roald Amuldsen's accomplishment in 1911. Shackleton came up with the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in which he would set a team on the Weddell Sea side of Antarctica and then they'd trek about 400 miles across land via the South Pole to the continent's Ross Sea coast. Shackleton's team would be met by his other ship commissioned for this expedition.
The whole undertaking was criticized in some circles as being too "audacious." And perhaps it was. But if it hadn't been audacious, it wouldn't have been to Shackleton's liking. He was, above all, an explorer in the classic mold—utterly self-reliant, romantic, and just a little swashbuckling.

Nor did the Antarctic represent to Shackleton merely the grubby means to a financial end. In a very real sense he needed it—something so enormous, so demanding, that it provided a touchstone for his monstrous ego and implacable drive. In ordinary situations, Shackleton's tremendous capacity for boldness and daring found almost nothing worthy of its pulling power ...

Thus, while Shackleton was undeniably out of place, even inept, in a great many everyday situations, he had a talent—a genius, even—that he shared with only a handful of men throughout history—genuine leadership. He was, as one of his men put it, "the greatest leader that ever came on God's earth, bar none."

Hmm, high praise indeed, but I'm not fully on board the Shackleton bandwagon, because it was his ego and desire to earn fame and enough money to retire that precipitated this madcap venture. I do, however, commend him for valuing the lives of his crew and doing what was necessary to ensure that all survived.

Because this is indeed a story of survival against all odds, common sense, and logic. And my opinion is based on the fact that I have traveled to Antarctica. I am relieved that I didn't even know about this utterly harrowing tale of man's survival prior to my visit to Antarctica. It would have been like watching "Titanic," "Poseidon," and then topping them off with movies of plane crashes before flying to one's cruise vacation.

This was a expedition in which things just went wrong. The ship Endurance sailed from Argentina on October 26, 1914, for the remote sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia. Their specific destination was the Grytviken whaling station, where they would wait for optimal conditions before heading for the great, white continent. Conditions delayed them for at least one month before they set sail on December 5th, nearly the official start of summer in Antarctica.

They didn't even make it past the Antarctic circle before they were confronted by an impasse of ice floes. By January 18, 1915, the ship had been firmly caught by the pack ice. It didn't matter that it was summer; the ice was compressed solid by the underlying ocean currents. The ship and crew were thus forced into a drift with a circular southwestern direction away from their target destination of Vashel Bay and instead closer to the Palmer peninsula. The crew and their imported sled dogs wintered on board the Endurance until October 27, 1915. With the coming of spring, the ice began to break apart and in doing so, it also crushed their ship. They were now officially castaways on an icy desert of an island.

This is the juncture in which Shackleton's voyage became an epic adventure in the most remote part of the globe. Lansing had not only interviewed the survivors but also supplemented his account with excerpts from the crew's personal journals. The final story is replete with travail and hardship but also periodic episodes of contentment. Not everybody pulled their own weight, but for the majority, British stoicism held sway.
“The rapidity with which one can completely change one’s ideas ... and accommodate ourselves to a state of barbarism is wonderful.”

Mild spoilers are ahead but it's been more than a century...

The Antarctic climate was, of course, a challenge. The resultant icy environment sunk their ship. During the spring break-up of ice, the surface below their tents spontaneously fissured and sleeping men plunged into the frigid waters.

From a medical perspective, I was surprised by the overall good conditions of the survivors. One man experienced a heart attack while another underwent primitive surgery to amputate toes afflicted with gangrene. (I now know the difference between wet and dry gangrene; the latter is the lesser of the two evils, ugh.) But most of the crew's experience ranged from blisters that froze solid (feeling like ice pebbles embedded under their skin) to nicotine withdrawal (one man was more upset by his lost tobacco than his near-drowning) to malnourishment.

Food and its lack thereof were serious issues. This led to the wanton slaughter of hundreds of Adelie penguins when they were fortunate. But it also meant the eventual killing of their sled dogs and puppies . They refrained from cannibalism even though Shackleton had threatened their one stowaway with this fate if conditions had ever so deteriorated.

Before the Endurance sank into the frigid waters on November 21, 1915, they had salvaged 3 smaller boats. After spending the summer camping on ice, they knew that they wouldn't survive an Antarctic winter. In mid-April 1916, they took their 22-foot boats into open waters to search for land.
Unlike the land, where courage and the simple will to endure can often see a man through, the struggle against the sea is an act of physical combat, and there is no escape. It is a battle against a tireless enemy in which man never actually wins; the most that he can hope for is not to be defeated.

The entire complement of 28 men safely reached Elephant Island, just off the tip of the Palmer peninsula, after one week. It was the first time in nearly 17 months in which they were actually on land as opposed to an unstable surface of ice. The cost of their journey was to lose one of their three small boats.

But they still weren't out of peril. It was immediately decided to split up. Shackleton and five others took the strongest boat into the dreaded Drake Passage in a desperate bid to find people and resources. This was a truly frightening idea at that time of year. Because of the direction of ocean currents, they headed for South Georgia Island, about 800 miles away, rather than to the nearer South America ports. Worsley's navigation by sextant and soggy nautical charts was exceptional.

I may have sounded less than adulatory of Shackleton, but I'm aware of the mesmerizing lure of Antarctica. Its icy splendor and teeming wildlife still cast a siren's call and I hope to return one day.

I listened to the audiobook and the narration by Simon Prebble was excellent. I delayed this review until I could borrow the 100th edition Endurance. I'm glad that I waited for the ebook, but I almost missed the photographs in the "inserts." Added poignancy came from the images of the men and the animals.

Dec. 5, 1914 Endurance leaves South Georgia Island
Dec. 7, 1914 enters pack ice in Weddell Sea
Jan 18, 1915 Endurance trapped and drifts with the currents
Oct. 27, 1915 Endurance crushed by ice pack and they abandon ship
Nov. 21, 1915 Endurance sinks
April 1916 in 3 boats, they reach Elephant Island
April 24 - May 10, 1916 Shackleton and crew sail to South Georgia Island
August 30, 1916 remaining crew rescued from Elephant Island
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,857 reviews5,633 followers
December 18, 2017
*2.5 stars*

Other than the bazillion amounts of bonus points that I got from my history-loving father for reading this one, I found Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to be a little underwhelming.

Honestly, it's a fascinating story and a true testament to the will of man, but it is also extremely repetitive. Though the narrator was very good, I had trouble keeping my attention on the story as the guys killed another seal and were cold... again... for hours and hours of listening time on end.

I ended up skimming parts of the story because it go to be too much, but I maintain that the story is a remarkable one.
Profile Image for Beata.
729 reviews1,114 followers
December 18, 2017
While reading this novel, I never ceased to feel amazed at the courage of the group of men who undertook a voyage into most unfriendly regions on our planet more than 100 years ago, and who dared to dare. I feel thankful to those who travelled to the place where I'd never venture. Film based on this novel with Kenneth Branagh is worth watching, the novel is much more terryfing, though.
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
590 reviews248 followers
October 17, 2022
Ernest Shackleton has long since wanted to be the first in some South Pole related expedition, but somehow other people kept accomplishing things before he even managed to get out of the harbor. Until the (ill-)fated year of 1914, when he finally sets out to cross the South Pole from west to east, aboard the Endurance.

Unfortunately, his ship gets stuck in ice in the Weddel Sea, long before he reaches land, and the crew ends up spending close to a year stuck there, hoping to forge a way through the ice. Eventually, Shackleton and his crew are forced to abandon the ship lest they be crushed by the ice, along with their ship. What follows is a harrowing story of survival spanning several months, that nevertheless sees Shackleton lead his men back to civilization alive against all odds.

Shackleton's escape from Antarctica

If there is one genre that you'll see me run away screaming from, that's survivalist non-fiction. I may hate poetry, but the worst it can do to me is make me fall asleep. Survival stories on the other hand, will stay with me for eons on end, strategically rearing their ugly head while I'm planning my next holiday retreat. Not that I've been anywhere without a 4-star hotel in its relative vicinity... That being said, ever since I've joined a book club two years ago, I've been steadily eating my words.

This book's biggest asset is without doubt its unassuming, yet riveting, writing style. Even though it lacks any particular figures of speech (a big plus in my books!), it managed to transport me on board the Endurance, and had me weather the terrifying journey through the Antarctic permafrost alongside the crew. I would marvel at the amount of wildlife they encountered, the inexplicably hot and icy summers of the land, the joys of hard work that effectively stops you from spiraling into deep depression, and of course Shackleton's increasingly crazy yet effective survival plans being played out.

The crew of the Endurance

For someone like me, who's scared shitless of anything with even a whiff of survival story, this book is actually the perfect introduction into the genre. We are told from the beginning, that this is the unbelievable success story of how one man essentially saved the life of all his 27 crew members, so you're not left stressing about your favorite's demise coming just around the corner. Instead, you're forced to take it step-by-... well page by page, gradually discover yet another of the vicissitudes of the South Pole, while hoping to hell that your rising dread will not overwhelm you.

Score: 4.4/5 stars

As soon as I posted my first status update of this book, I was all but inundated with support and well-wishes, from fans of the book. At the time, all I could do was dread having to review it, because of my deep dislike of the genre. I may not shy away from gleefully pushing back the critics who love to harp on my woefully wrong opinion on their favorite books, but the prospect of challenging half of Goodreads to a fight is a bit intimidating.

Luckily, this was not the case, so here's your review: it's an amazing book, kept me riveted through many a sleepless night, and you should all give it a go. I on the other hand am spent, and will be giving the genre a huge berth for at least a while. Too much excitement.


For scientific discovery give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton
Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,652 followers
July 26, 2015
What an incredible story! This was my introduction to Shackleton, and I am left reeling from the experience.

I chose Endurance to add symmetry to my list. Earlier this year I read In the Kingdom of Ice, Hampton Sides' excellent book about a doomed expedition to the North Pole, and I thought I should balance the hemispheres by reading about a South Pole expedition. Lansing's book was highly rated by GR friends, and justifiably so.

What struck me about the writing was how modern it was. Lansing had good descriptions, great storytelling and created a powerful momentum to the events. These techniques are now widely used in narrative nonfiction, especially among popular history writers such as Sides, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Laura Hillenbrand. I mention this because Lansing's book was originally published in 1959, but didn't become a bestseller until decades later when a publisher who was a fan decided to reprint it. Lansing was definitely ahead of his time.

[Sidenote: In the 2014 edition that I had, Philbrick wrote a great introduction about Lansing and his book, and it included this bit of wisdom: "One of the biggest challenges for a writer of nonfiction is to avoid using too much of his or her hard-won material. A great and enduring book isn't comprehensive; it is highly, even ruthlessly, selective, zeroing in on the most evocative and illustrative moments while dispensing with the clutter that might prevent the high points from resonating to maximum effect."]

But back to the adventure! In 1914, Ernest Shackleton wanted to make the first land crossing of Antarctica. The South Pole had previously been discovered, but Shackleton hoped to lead an expedition from sea to sea. However, his ship never reached the continent — it became stuck in ice in the Weddell Sea, and was eventually crushed and destroyed by the ice pack.

Shackleton and his men had to camp on an ice floe, and slowly drifted out to sea. When the floe became unreliable, they set out in lifeboats in hopes of reaching an island.

(At this point, this book was so compelling that it was affecting my sleep. I dreamt that I was stranded on an iceberg, and was relieved to wake up in a bed, in a house, on land, in a warm climate and with food readily available.)

The men reached Elephant Island, which was remote and unlikely to be visited by any other ships. Shackleton and a few men then set out again in a lifeboat for South Georgia Island, which was about 800 miles away. Amazingly, they reached the island, despite wicked winds and dangerous seas, and then had to make a difficult land crossing to the other side to reach a dock with some whaling ships.

After several attempts, Shackleton was finally able to procure a ship that was sturdy enough to rescue the men stranded on Elephant Island, making for an emotional reunion. If you think I reached the end of this adventure without getting a little misty-eyed, you would be wrong.

Shackleton was such an inspirational leader that I understand why he has become so revered. Lansing did some impressive reporting by interviewing the survivors of the expedition, and he also had access to numerous journals and logbooks. I listened to this on audio, narrated by Simon Prebble, and it was excellent. I also recommend looking through a print copy of the book to see the photographs from the expedition, including some jaw-dropping photos of the ship stuck in ice.

I highly recommend this book to fans of history or true adventure.

Favorite Quotes
"Few men have borne the responsibility Shackleton did at that moment. Though he certainly was aware that their situation was desperate, he could not possibly have imagined then the physical and emotional demands that ultimately would be placed upon them, the rigors they would have to endure, the sufferings to which they would be subjected. They were for all practical purposes alone in the frozen Antarctic seas. It had been very nearly a year since they had last been in contact with civilization. Nobody in the outside world knew they were in trouble, much less where they were. They had no radio transmitter with which to notify any would-be rescuers, and it is doubtful that any rescuers could have reached them even if they had been able to broadcast an SOS. It was 1915, and there were no helicopters, no Weasels, no Sno-Cats, no suitable planes. Thus their plight was naked and terrifying in its simplicity. If they were to get out — they had to get themselves out."

"In all the world there is no desolation more complete than the polar night. It is a return to the Ice Age — no warmth, no life, no movement. Only those who have experienced it can fully appreciate what it means to be without the sun day after day and week after week. Few men unaccustomed to it can fight off its effects altogether, and it has driven some men mad."
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book487 followers
August 20, 2022
But the sea is a different sort of enemy. Unlike the land, where courage and the simple will to endure can often see a man through, the struggle against the sea is an act of physical combat, and there is no escape. It is a battle against a tireless enemy in which man never actually wins; the most that he can hope for is not to be defeated.

Wow, who knew an account of a failed expedition across Antarctica could be so emotional. I feel I crossed a continent with these men and that I was cold and hungry and wet, always wet. And, it was miserable, but these men were amazingly optimistic and congenial and stoic. I am sure I would have been worthless and depressed just watching the ship, the Endurance, fall into the sea, crushed by ice pressure. I know I would have been devastated by some of the difficult tasks they had to perform and some of the things they were required to eat.

The heart of this journey was Ernest Shackleton himself, a man who led quietly and competently and never despaired; a man who showed great care and concern for his men and made tough decisions without looking backward; and a man who never gave up his faith or tenacity in the face of unbelievable odds.

When I had finished reading the book, I went online to find the pictures were taken on the voyage and survived. They were amazing and reinforced, even more, the courage and resilience needed to endure this catastrophe.

These retouched photos of Shackleton's 1914 expedition look ...

I enjoyed every page of this book, and as I always say when I have finished such an historical account, I need to read more non-fiction!
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books551 followers
May 13, 2019
This is quite the tale, what a crazy adventure! Endurance tells the story of Shackleton and his crew and their Arctic expedition. The men ran into more than their fair share of trouble, to put it lightly. The book is fascinating and really shows you the incredible power of human resilience and tenacity. Perfect for an armchair traveler, it read like a novel and I couldn't put it down!

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Natalie Vellacott.
Author 18 books858 followers
February 12, 2018
What an incredible adventure.

Endurance tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempts to cross the Antarctic overland with his 27 man crew. But, in October 1915 when they were still half a continent away from their intended base, their ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. The entire crew with 50 dogs left the doomed vessel, camping on ice and using small boats to attempt to reach the nearest island. They became castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world. Any hope of survival seemed lost.....

This account is gripping and exciting almost to the last page.

I appreciate what Dr Dobson has tried to do by re-publishing this as a "special Christian edition." But the reality is that this is not a Christian book and believing that the men "must have sought God" as they daily faced imminent death does not prove that they actually did this or that any were Christians. From the various journal entries and comments included it seems sadly likely that they were not Christians and an attempt to re-write the reality although well-intended seems to me to be a bit odd. Dr Dobson has also included an Afterword. He attempts to use an analogy from Endurance to explain end times theology yet he makes the point that his analogy will only probably be understood by those who are acquainted with Biblical prophecy. I don't understand the purpose of this, if it is for those who are already saved then it is not evangelistic so why form an ill-fitting analogy to try and link this story to the Christian faith?

Dr Dobson should probably instead have concluded this great story of adventure by commenting on the tragedy of survival against the odds but without true eternal hope, instead of trying to turn this into a Christian book/turn these into Christian men when they don't seem to have been.

I recommend this book for those who enjoy true adventure stories. It is basically clean; mostly free of bad language (there is one curse word,) also free of violence and sexual content.
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
677 reviews387 followers
January 28, 2018
10/5 ⭐️'s: An exciting, epic battle of survival; Stoicism to the nth degree. Truly incredible. 🏆

“The ship had been named the Polaris. After the sale, Shackleton rechristened her Endurance, in keeping with the motto of his family, Fortitudine vincimus—"By endurance we conquer."

Easily one of my all-time favorite books—ever—it's not hard to see why astronaut Scott Kelly brought it with him to the ISS not once, but twice. Although I hazily remembered Shackleton's voyage from history class, it wasn't until Kelly's Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery that Alfred Lansing's book was brought to my attention. Both books are amazing, dealing with life and death situations outside of civilization, on the forefront of exploration.

If you enjoy true tales of adventure, heroism, and strength of character in the face of insurmountable odds—look no further. Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition is nothing short of extraordinary.

The introduction alone was so striking, I listened to it four times. Narrated by Simon Prebble, it reads like the BBC Planet Earth documentaries, beautiful and riveting.

Stuck in "the icy wasteland of the Antarctic's treacherous Weddell Sea, just about midway between the South Pole and the nearest known outpost of humanity, some 1,200 miles away," the ship Endurance is abandoned a little more than a year after setting out from London in 1914.

All in all, the group of 28 men (all of whom survive) will have no contact with the outside world for almost two years, and not see land for 497 days. No radio, no satellite, no help from anywhere, only the guidance of maps, stars, and the indefatigable leadership of Ernest Shackleton.

"Thus their plight was naked and terrifying in its simplicity. If they were to get out—they had to get themselves out.”

After the Endurance sinks, the men take the sled dogs, lifeboats, and anything they can carry, setting out across the ice. Throughout their journey back to the known world, I found myself holding my breath and constantly amazed at how the men could endure such trials—even attaining a level of contentment with their primitive existence.

"The rapidity with which one can completely change one's ideas ... and accommodate ourselves to a state of barbarism is wonderful."

Developing a degree of self-reliance greater than they ever thought possible, it is clear the men take the time to savor the pleasure of simply being alive. Lansing seamlessly incorporates diary entries from the men, giving us incredible insight to the men's personal feelings.

Several camps are made on the ice, the last aptly named: "Patience Camp." Once the ice floes begin to break up, the men set out for the South Shetland Islands in two small boats, eventually landing on Elephant Island. Too weak to go on, a majority of the men remained there while Shackleton and five others set off in the James Caird for South Georgia. Covering a distance of 800 miles through the Drake Passage it is widely viewed as one of the greatest small-boat journeys ever undertaken.

Once they reached King Haakon Bay, Shackleton and two others made the first confirmed land crossing of the South Georgia interior, arriving at the whaling station of Stromness. The men there are in shock and utter awe at the strength and determination of Shackleton and his men. As soon as he can, Shackleton goes back and rescues the rest of his party.

I often referenced maps of the expedition and ended up researching the various legs of the journey in greater detail—the photos alone are captivating. The whole story is phenomenal, and awe-inspiring—I really can't recommend this enough.

Favorite Quotes:

“In some ways they had come to know themselves better. In this lonely world of ice and emptiness, they had achieved at least a limited kind of contentment. They had been tested and found not wanting.”

“In that instant they felt an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment. Though they had failed dismally even to come close to the expedition's original objective, they knew now that somehow they had done much, much more than ever they set out to do.”
Profile Image for Andy.
1,373 reviews464 followers
January 17, 2023
I'm sorry. I know this is an incredible survival story, but I have to call bulls**t. This is being advertised as a story of "leadership" and "heroism" when it's more like the opposite. I used to be OK with letting such stuff go as a "conversation starter" but I now think such fuzziness is too dangerous.

Shackleton plans the expedition for the sake of a publicity stunt that he hopes will make him rich. He picks his crew "capriciously." He "hypocritically" adds a science component. He ignores advice from whalers. He fails to bring along essential materials. He lands his ship in a self-created disaster. And so on. I give the author credit for presenting these facts and labels, but the overall tone is off.

This book is assigned in schools. We should not be teaching young people that leadership is selfishness, hubris, poor planning, bad decision-making, etc. Saving your own skin in a difficult situation could be admirable resourcefulness, but it's not the best illustration of heroism.

Does the arsonist fireman deserve a medal for rescuing children from the apartment-building he set on fire?

The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Note: see comment stream below for non-critiques of this review.
Profile Image for Carmel Hanes.
Author 1 book129 followers
July 7, 2021
I'm a wimp. I'm spoiled. I would never make it in a catastrophe. I whine when the air conditioner goes out on a hot day, or the power goes out, leaving me with no lights or stove upon which to cook.

I'm not worthy.

This book, this true life story, proves it to me on every page. "Incredible" does not even begin to describe what these hardy souls endured and overcame. If this was purely fiction, the reader would begin to accuse the author of embellishment, or downright melodramatic overkill. But it's true. And a testament to how much punishment a human body and mind can take and still keep going.

I learned so much in this fascinating account of a trapped ship...about the unpredictable nature of ice floes, the capriciousness of the ocean, what keeps people alive against all odds, how one finds one's way in the middle of nowhere before GPS on phones, and how human hope clings to the thinnest of threads. A story that moves from ice to ocean to land, but never far from danger or the relentless "red alert" the nervous system endures for weeks and months on end.

This was a gripping tale, made all the more poignant because it is true, and a well-narrated treat on audible. I am in awe of these men.
Profile Image for James.
425 reviews
November 25, 2017
‘Endurance’ is Alfred Lansing’s very thorough, workmanlike but effective and affecting – at times moving account of Shackleton’s ‘Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic’.

For anyone who is not familiar this story – quite simply, this must be the greatest true story of survival against all the odds and is simply unparalleled in our times.

The book, as the expedition, is a sobering, frightening story of unrelenting suffering, challenges on a super-human scale, seemingly unrelenting and insurmountable obstacles, overwhelming odds against survival; but ultimately it’s very much truly inspirational story of hope, of never giving up. It’s a story about man’s incredible capacity for survival.

It has to be born in mind the time that Shackleton’s voyage took place (starting out in 1915) and the enormity and ambition of that endeavour. Consider the technology that simply wasn’t available to Shackleton and his crew at that time – the limitations in respect of communication and navigation, let alone the possibility of being found and rescued in the event of an emergency, should the need arise…the technology and the possibility just didn’t exist. Consider also the inhospitable nature of the Antarctic seas, the ice floes, ice bergs, the frighteningly low temperatures, potentially the worst weather and sailing conditions anywhere on the planet, the risk of the ship becoming trapped and crushed in the ice. Finally consider the equipment and protective clothing available in 1915 to the crew – it just doesn’t bear thinking about; Antarctic exploration in 1915 in comparison to that of the 21st Century was quite simply in an entirely different world.

Accompanying Lansing’s text are the evocative and very striking photograph’s taken by the expedition’s photographer Frank Hurley – which amazingly enough survived the ordeal of the expedition.

It is no spoiler to say that this is a story of survival – that fact is known to the reader at the outset. The story is well told and conveyed by Lansing, who had access to surviving ships logs and crew diaries – he also interviewed at length surviving members of the crew of the ‘Endurance’.

There are no superlatives that can be used which could overstate the astonishing and unbelievable nature of this story – nothing that could be said could ever constitute hyperbole. The story of Shackleton’s Antarctic voyage and that of the crew of the ‘Endurance’ is quite simply inspirational; it is a monumental story on a par with that of Odysseus. The quest for Shackleton and his crew was perhaps the greatest quest of all; it was the fight for survival, a battle against insurmountable odds, a fight with the worst that the elements could offer – this was a voyage of the human condition at its finest, the quest to find a place of safety, the fight for life and the fight to find a way home.

Truly an astonishing story.
Profile Image for Allison Keith.
234 reviews78 followers
March 12, 2022
When I saw the news about the HMS Endurance being found over 100 years after it sank in the Weddell Sea off of Antarctica, I was once again captured by this astonishing story of survival and human resilience. The story of Shackleton’s voyage captured my imagination the first time I heard it as a girl, and revisiting one of my favourite expedition stories with Alfred Lansing’s book seemed particularly fitting.

This is a tale of courage and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The work details the harrowing circumstances of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, the last major expedition in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Expedition in which Ernest Shackleton and his crew set out to accomplish the first crossing of the Antarctic continent by land.

The expedition was unsuccessful, and instead of a grueling polar crossing, Shackleton and his men faced the horror of being locked in an ice flow for months on end; stranded on the ice when their ship, Endurance, was crushed and sank; and forced to launch out into a frigid, deadly sea to reach the closest landmass not once, but twice. The story of the Endurance expedition is one of incredible resilience and human endurance—both physical and psychological. It is also a testament to the human will to survive against all odds and an ode to the burning and ever-present drive to explore the far reaches of the world.

The author’s retelling begins slowly as he sets the scene, and his writing is straight-forward and unembellished—and all the more powerful for its lack of adornment. Lansing captures the grimness of the men’s predicament, the heartbreak over being forced by hunger to eat their beloved, loyal dogs, the dangerous and grisly tolls the men faced both physically and mentally. There are parts of the tale that are long and drawn out, but the tedium is a brilliant reflection of the brutal months the expedition team spent trapped in the pack ice. The research is so thorough—comprised of interviews with survivors and access to numerous primary source materials—that each man of the crew is brought to authentic life on the pages. Shackleton himself is a character whose leadership and resourcefulness was both astonishing and commendable, and he exists in the pages not merely as an intriguing historical figure but as a flesh and blood man with a thirst for adventure and exploration and a deep concern for the men he led.

The work is a grand monument to the men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. This is a suspenseful, gripping story of adventure, of survival, of camaraderie, and of incredible endurance. Enjoy this one bundled up by a roaring fire sipping some strong, hot tea.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews869 followers
May 22, 2019
I am in awe and in tears.

The ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the Endurance has got to be one of the most phenomenal survival stories that will last through the ages. The conditions that beset the crew of the Endurance were brutal and harrowing beyond my imagination. I don't think that even a fiction writer could have conjured up the unbelievably horrific circumstances that were endured, and survived, by Shackleton and his men.

On the book itself, the narrative was written by piecing together all the events experienced by the crew of the Endurance, accomplished via combing through every diary kept during the expedition and extensive interviews with almost all the surviving crew members. I believe this enabled the author to put forth an in-depth and intimate account of this most incredible and perilous voyage, which lasted almost two years. The audiobook narration added to the experience as the narrator was adept in modulating his delivery to suit the moment - be it desperation or acquiescence, excitement or relief. He also injected a bit of character to the different crew members through nuanced voices.

I highly, highly recommend this classic true tale of survival to anyone who seeks to be inspired by the sheer indefatigable will, courage and nobility that humans can be capable of. I wasn't aware that it was even possible until I've read this book.
Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
388 reviews113k followers
March 10, 2022
Fascinating tale of Shackleton's incredible voyage and how he lead his crew out of it. Learned about the antarctic and ice floes, but mostly learned about the grit these men displayed in surviving.

The first thing that struck me was that despite their situation being arguably hopeless, and the fact that they were wearing wet clothes and sleeping in wet sleeping bags half the time, their spirits seemed up. This was impressive, and is the kind of thing that can only come from the top.

Shackleton may have been a bit of a fool to sail into the ice floes to start with, but his legacy is known as being a strong leader.

"For scientific discovery give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton." - Sir Raymond Priestly, Antarctic Explorer and Geologist.

And I think his leadership in action as described in the book was evident in (A) setting a strong plan at any given point - they always knew where they were trying to go even if it sounded impossible (B) Removing emotion from his decision making, which led him to be right a lot about what to do in tough situations, and (C) knowing his men and paying close attention to morale. I think the middle point (B) was the most impressive thing - he knew when to turn around and when to press forward - and that's a super hard call to make to turn around.

Update: amazing images here: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/09/cl...
Profile Image for Charlie Parker.
165 reviews34 followers
February 4, 2023
La prisión blanca:

Endurance: El increíble viaje de Sir Ernest Shackleton al Polo Sur

Esto es un libro puro de aventuras, de supervivencia, de audacia, un libro sobre los límites del ser humano en un ambiente salvaje y hostil. Basado en los diarios de los supervivientes, todo lo que se relata en él, es cierto.

Después de que el noruego Roald Amundsen llegara al polo sur en 1911, quedó un vacío para las conquistas del hombre en la tierra. De aquí surgió la Expedición Imperial Trasatlántica de 1914-1917. Fue un intento diseñado por el irlandés Ernest Shackelton para atravesar el continente antártico por primera vez. Este hombre ya se había acercado a la Antártida en otras expediciones.

Esto es lo que decía de su expedición:

«Shackleton escribía:
Desde el punto de vista sentimental, ésta es la última gran expedición polar que se puede llevar a cabo. Será más importante que el viaje de ida y vuelta al Polo y considero que debe lograrlo la nación británica, pues se nos adelantaron en la conquista del Polo Norte y en la primera conquista del Polo Sur. Queda ahora la expedición más importante… la travesía del continente antártico.»

La expedición de Shackleton consistía en acercarse al continente antártico por el mar de Weddell hasta la bahía de Vashel (zona tierra de fuego) para cruzar por el polo sur hasta el mar de Ross junto al glaciar Beardmore (zona austral). Una travesía tremendamente complicada de 2900 km a través del continente helado con temperaturas bajo cero.

Para ello hicieron construir un bergantín rompehielos en Noruega al que le llamaron Endurance. Este barco fue construido con madera de roble y abeto con un revestimiento de madera de palo verde, la mas resistente que existe. Debía romper el hielo que se iba a encontrar.

Después de una selección de personal un tanto sorprendente, a ojo, este si, este no, el Endurance partió de Plymouth con rumbo Buenos Aires cinco días después de que Gran Bretaña declarase la guerra a Alemania (primera guerra mundial) con 28 tripulantes (+ un polizón) a bordo.

Al poco de adentrarse en el mar de Weddell, el Endurance quedó atrapado en una banquisa de hielo. Todos los esfuerzos de salir de esa prisión fueron en vano, después de meses intentándolo, la naturaleza engulló el barco. Así empieza la aventura, así empieza el libro.

«Para la dirección científica, dadme a Scott; para un viaje rápido y eficaz, a Amundsen; pero cuando estéis en una situación desesperada, cuando parezca que no existe una salida, arrodilláos y rezad para que venga Shackleton.»

A partir de aquí empieza una batalla por la supervivencia…

El Endurance fue encontrado en febrero de 2022 a tres mil metros de profundidad en el mar de Weddell en muy buenas condiciones.

Toda esta información la podéis encontrar en internet con solo mover el ratón. Pero, amigos lectores, cualquier artículo que se lea sobre esta aventura palidece ante este libro que la cuenta como una novela basada en los diarios de los protagonistas. Tanto si conoces la historia como si no, vas a disfrutar de un libro épico donde los límites humanos se ponen a prueba.

Y si solo conoces de oídas esta aventura, tanto mejor, no hace falta ni leer la sinopsis, que lo que hace es contar el principio y fin.
Profile Image for Jean.
731 reviews20 followers
August 6, 2021
“Oh, boy!” I thought that this cold-weather adventure story was just what I needed in the midst of a July-August hot spell. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage would be a real treat. I imagined that Alfred Lansing’s fiction account of Ernest Shackleton’s trans-Antarctic venture back in 1914 would be just the escape I was looking for. I had NO IDEA.

Endurance is no cozy escape story, and even though its sailors eventually became castaways, this is nothing at all like “Gilligan’s Island.” Indeed, the ship Endurance was aptly named, and it came to symbolize the entire voyage, including most certainly, the bravery and never-say-die perseverance of Shackleton and the 27-man crew. Imagine the coldest, wettest, hungriest, most miserable and tired you have ever been, and then multiply that by about 18 months. And that wouldn’t even come close to what these men endured.

I wondered if Shackleton himself had any idea of what lay ahead when his ship embarked on this quest to cross the continent. Early in the voyage, the ship became plagued by ice and eventually became totally blocked, despite valiant efforts by the men to free her. The ship drifted while caught in the pack throughout the winter, and the dogs were taken off the ship and housed in “dogloos” for a time. The men’s routines were also varied to prevent boredom and depression. When spring came, the ice began to thaw and refreeze causing pressure on the ship. Ultimately, this proved to be the end of the Endurance, as the ship was eventually crushed “to death.”

Yet, the men of the Endurance just did what needed to be done. The pulled together and loaded supplies and gear into three boats and continued their journey, seeking an island where they could be rescued. This was where things got truly miserable! My heart hurt for these men as I read about 100-plus –mile-an-hour gales whipping up gigantic waves that would wash over their small crafts, soaking them to the skin. When the wind and waves were too rough, they had to row, which caused painful blisters. At times, when the ice was too unstable, they had to try to sleep in the boats. No matter where they slept, they were never, ever totally dry and warm. This led to skin problems, including gangrene. The account of a surgery to amputate a man’s toes in the crudest of conditions was simply astounding! And the diet of these men! Blubber, seal, penguin, pemmican, hot powdered milk, tea...day in and day out. They had a few books that they read over and over and over. One man had a banjo, but he knew only a few tunes. Some played cards. In winter, there were but a few hours of daylight.

This was almost laborious to read, yet it was fascinating too. I was amazed at the inner strength of these fellows and their ability to get along, for the most part, even with Thomas Orde-Lees, who was the least cooperative of the team members and usually had an excuse to get out of rowing and doing his full share of the work. I was on the verge of tears several times – rejoicing at their triumphs and feeling their pain whenever their major efforts failed, and when their hardships seemed too much to bear (like having to shoot the dogs in order to preserve precious food stores). The men landed on Elephant Island, which proved to be a harsh environment. Days later, Shackleton set out for South Georgia with a small rescue team. Amazingly, they survived everything the Drake Passage had to throw at them. Then there is a truly funny scene when the men get to South Georgia and have to slide down a snowy slope on the seats of their pants, toboggan style.

“Who the hell are you?” he said at last.
The man in the center stepped forward.
“My name is Shackleton,” he replied in a quiet voice.
Again there was silence. Some said that Sørlie turned away and wept.

Mr. Lansing did a marvelous job pulling together all of the diaries of the crew into a blow-by-blow account of this tremendous odyssey. I imagine that his task took quite a bit of endurance as well.

5 stars
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,735 reviews1,469 followers
March 2, 2015
This was exciting! I recommend this book to those who want to throw themselves into another world, albeit a world cold, wet, icy and filled with fear, exhaustion and hunger.

Ernest Shackleton set out in 1914 to cross the Antarctic from west to east. Yes, WW1 had broken out and he had Churchill’s go-ahead Why? For the glory of Britain and for his own glory too. The race for polar discovery was in full-swing. On December 14, 1911, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the first successful expedition to arrive at the South Pole, five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott. Robert Edwin Peary, an American explorer, is credited with having been the first to reach the geographic North Pole. There has been some debate as to whether Frederick Cook, also an American, got there a year earlier.

The audiobook narration by Simon Prebble is excellent.

When the expedition began there were twenty-nine men aboard the Endurance; there was one stowaway! This book lets you live the experiences of these men and shows how this amazing feat was accomplished. I have a shelf for books concerning “bad-trip” expeditions. To date, this is my favorite.

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562 reviews42 followers
November 13, 2017
Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, Narrated by Simon Prebble, Blackstone Audio Book

This is an incredible account of a December, 1914, British Antarctic expedition of 28 men and their venture to sail to the Weddell Sea. They were to land a shore party near Vahsel Bay, in preparation for a transcontinental march via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. They never made it to the starting point. Halfway there they were caught in ice floes and the ship was eventually crushed and sunk. The men spent about 15 months on the ice.

It is almost a relief to have finished the book. The relief is not due to poor writing. On the contrary the writing and narration are excellent. It is the intensity of the story: the crushing and sinking of the wooden ship “Endurance” between ice floes, and the challenges the men faced as they they will try to survive having lost gear and food stores with the sinking ship.

The book is too, a testament to man being tested to his limits, the importance of experienced leadership, and planning for contingencies. Hardly no 2 days on the ice were the same. From drastic swings in temperatures, to gale force winds, to phenomena no one in the rest of the work will ever experience. For example, while on the pack ice, a rouge ocean swell could crack and split the ice under foot potentially losing valuable gear and men’s lives. Another phenomenon is the tide rip, where a deep-water tide could surface and gather ice and other debris and without warning move it at incredible speeds devastating anything is its path. It could then dissipate as quickly as it began.

I have to say, this is not only a true story that, like a good novel, kept me listening to the excellent narration by Simon Prebble, but a learning experience about the inhospitable environment of Antarctica, of which I had no idea.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure that takes them to places they have never been, and meeting the men who are part of the journey.
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