Sunday, May 9, 2010

Endurance by F.A. Worsley

This book recounts the tale of a Trans-Antartica expedition beginning in 1914 that goes terribly wrong. Endurance, the name of the ship which gets trapped in the ice, is an understated description of the mentality of the sailors and their leaders.

The book immediately begins with the Endurance trapped in the ice and describing the peril of their situation. However, the premise of Worsley's account centers on the inspiring leadership of Ernest Shackleton and his ability to lead the men through the worst situations. The sailors are forced to pitch camp on land until Shackelton, Worsley, and a few others embark on an 800 mile sailing journey to the closest "civilization" in the middle of the Antartic winter while the rest of the expedition await rescue for four months. The conditions that they endure are unbelievable and I can't imagine more things falling apart in the way they did. I literally was shaking my head in disbelief during the majority of the book. Even more amazing is that not a single person died on the trip despite the lack of food, provisions, shelter, and dangerous encounters. I'm not sure that men like this are made anymore.

I was so looking forward to finish this book so I could write a review about it, but this post does a poor job of capturing the story so you should just read the book for yourself. Thanks, Richard, for the recommendation and book swap!

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