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Australian Douglas Mawson set out on a journey in 1912 to explore the Antarctic, with a goal of scientific observations and specimen gathering. It was a year long undertaking with three other members of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE), Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Mertz. Both of these men died during the expedition, one falling into a crevasse, and the other succumbed to spoiled meat. Mawson continues on alone and encounters extreme situations as he tries to find his way back to camp.
The story is comprised from journals kept by Mawson and the two other men from that perilous journey. It is definitely a raw, chilling account of the hardships they went through. Their supplies were insufficient, their clothing not warm enough, and the food scarce. As they trekked through the ice and blistering winds, most of their dogs were lost as they became too weak or sick to continue. The animals definitely did not fare well from the very beginning-and met with unpleasant ends- as a warning to tender-hearted readers.
Overal it is a good book for those who enjoy this kind of historical adventure.
So why did I only give it three stars? I didn't care for the narration, as it was too much the same type of monotone throughout. Also, the book was confusing at times, as it jumped from one event to another without enough of a break in narration or explanation about what was going on. I had to rewind several times just to clarify the content.
I could see myself enjoying this story much better in book form.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
We have all heard about Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen and their heroic journeys and sacrifices during the golden age of Antarctic exploration. But who has really heard of Douglas Mawson? I certainly did not know of this man’s escapades during the early part of the 20th century until I heard this book recently. It is a painstakingly researched, well written story of Mawson’s adventures trying to explore the unexplored regions of Antartica. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AED) was a remarkable scientific foray into the hellishly cold and windy regions of the south pole. Many remarkable characters make up the expeditionary party and crew of the steamer Aurora as they journey towards packed ice fields, stormy seas and the hurricane gusts of Commonwealth Bay. Many early chapters of the book is devoted to Mawson’s earlier life as an explorer and his ambitions to create the AED. Individual party members are also studied in detail and described. I particularly enjoyed the stories of Frank Hurley, the expedition photographer. The actual harrowing story of how Mawson survives the perilous journey on the ice alone for 30 days after his two compatriots die is remarkable but only plays a smaller part of this book. That is the reason I think the book was mistitled. Nevertheless, the story is an amazing piece of history that needed to be told for future generations.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
The material in this book merely rehashes Mawson's well written autobiography, The Heart of the Blizzard. some of the comments about other antarctic explorers repeat Roland Huntsford's biased viewpoints as though they were gospel. the narration is extremely tedious and the pronounciation of many words is inaccurate and very annoying. If the story is new to you you may enjoy the content, but the narrator would need to be much more inspiring to make it worth the effort.
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
Read Mawson's original!
Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Matthew Brenher?
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
3 of 5 people found this review helpful
I’d like to say I enjoyed this book but that would be a lie. I had high hopes for this ook at the start due to its title, summary and description of text. However, even at the beginning I could see that I’d be disppointed. It dawdles, rambles and digresses all over the place. One gets the sense that somebody is writing this from a distance which is true of course but disappointing that a better job could not be made to really convey the difficulties of the polar expedition so that one never leaves the armchair in which one might be sitting to read this book. it isn’t helped by poor naration and pronunciation. It’s written, or so it seems, by an American since the words and emphasis is very much indicative of that region of the world. It’s written like a journalist’s account of something he never took part in and so I can say nothing positive about this book. If you want atmosphere and real sense of adventure avoid this one and stick instead to books which are better written though not necessarily any better read. I’ll finish it but never again will I open this book.
Where does Alone on the Ice rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Top 2 for sure, along with "On the trail of Genghis Kahn".
Who was your favorite character and why?
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Laugh at times but mostly just listen in awe.
Any additional comments?
I wish more people knew the storey of the man who at one stage was on Australia's $100 note.