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This is unquestionably the most amazing tale of men against the elements that I have ever read or heard, and it is told remarkably well by Lansing who draws artfully from the actual diary entries of the participants without ever reducing the narrative to a dry progression of quotes. His ability to bring the harrowing conditions and landscape, the fascinating array of characters, and the grueling sequence of challenges and hairsbreadth escapes into sharp and riveting focus is quite extraordinary. Simon Prebble is a perfect match for the fine writing. He audibly sorts out the personalities involved and presents the whole with an understated but charged clarity which keeps the narrative moving even through what could seem like a never ending and tedious progression of disasters in the voice of a lesser reader.
Of course the real stars here are Shackleton and the men under his command who prove themselves capable of feats of courage, endurance and simple, stubborn determination which almost surpass belief. Ordinary and flawed in so many ways, they come together to become much more than the sum of their individual qualities.
In the end, the most fascinating part of this story is the long and torturous series of life and death choices involved. Time after time Shackleton's decisions are crucial to the party's survival, whether the question is when to abandon the pack ice for the boats, when to kill the dogs, when to allow the party to split, or how to get to the bottom of a nearly vertical snowbound precipice in order to avoid freezing at high altitude (think Butch Cassidy and Sundance). Nature is an implacable adversary for these men, marshaling countless terrifying storms, thirst, cold, hunger, completely unpredictable ice and long weeks of winter darkness against them and time after time crushing hope just as it seems most justified. Perhaps the most extraordinary decision of all, under the circumstances, was the choice each of them made to simply keep on keeping on when it seemed to make no sense
Finally, while this tale is exhausting in some ways, it is also deeply inspiring and satisfying. And Lansing and Prebble have given us the wonderful opportunity to "experience" it all while sitting in comfort and safety. Almost doesn't seem fair, but I strongly urge you to take advantage of the offer.
91 of 95 people found this review helpful
I just walked into the house after sitting in my Jeep in the driveway to finish off the last half-hour or so of this incredible book. Strangely enough, I couldn't wait for the book to be over, not because the book wasn't outstanding, but because I just wanted the trials and ordeals of these unfortunate but heroic men to be over. And as the story came into the last chapter and epilogue, I found myself almost brought to tears several times. At the risk of sounding ridiculously sentimental, this book brought into sharp contrast many of my own shortcomings and made me want to work to become a stronger and better person. I wonder if I would have survived.
154 of 165 people found this review helpful
An incredible tale of survival and impossible achievement for most human beings, these men showed a brotherhood and a strength that is motivational and inspiring, it makes most daily complaints seem petty and absurd.
A story that is true but is hard to conceive, a truly amazing tale, in a time when modern technology was just awakening and death was a close companion.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Set against our present age of hyped-up sporting "triumphs", celebrity vloggers and x-factor instant successes, this is a story of truely heroic behaviour. After setting the last great goal of antarctic exploration (walking from one side to the other), Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of twenty seven assorted seamen, scientists, artists and adventurers face one set-back after another. They accept appalling suffering, and an endlessly diminishing sense of security as the expedition is first icebound, then cast adrift on a frozen sea with little but the clothes they are wearing. Although the leadership of Shackleton looms large in every episode, his eventual accomplishment is only really possible because of the extraordinary crew he had formed, and their ability to "grunt and go" never fails to amaze. Even the most flawed of them appears almost superhuman in modern terms.
This account was published in the 50s, and offers exceptional practical detail, even if it does brush too lightly over some of the interpersonal antagonisms that coloured the men's experiences. A near mutiny by the ship's carpenter McNish, is a particularly sad story that is not followed to its conclusion, and the somewhat selfish Thomas Orde-Lees is let off surprisingly gently, being treated largely as the camp clown.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I listened to this book while driving across the blinding heat of the Australian desert, and found myself so transported by this incredible story of survival, that I could almost feel the icy chill of the Antarctic pack ice! Beautifully narrated (though Hurley’s Aussie accent is a little bit dodgy!)
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in hearing one of the greatest stories of survival and leadership. Full of tension, great characters and a truly white knuckle tension.
This is the most exhilarating non-fiction book I have ever listened to. Simply amazing story. This audio production brings the adventure to life in a visceral and dramatic way - it feels like you were there. Highly recommended.