Friday, 15 March 2013

South: The Endurance Expedition - Ernest Shakleton

To increase caution at the expense of the final goal is no military art.
                                                                                    Clausewitz: Principles of War, 1812

Title: South: The Endurance Expedition
Author: Ernest Shackleton
Publisher: Signet Non-Fiction
Pages: 418

Content: This story of Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to be the first to cross the Antarctic on foot is a testament to the will and drive of the human spirit. Trapped on the ice as a result of the loss of their ship, the party of 28 men, cut off from communication with the outside world and facing the onerous prospect of an extended stay with long odds of survival, overcame crushing environmental and psychological hardship to finally make it to safety after two years of effort (with no loss of life). Lead by Shackleton, this first-person account of the ordeal, outlines his efforts to keep the party focussed and engaged while maintaining morale in the face of starvation and brutal cold. It is of significant interest that Shackleton, despite his failure to cross Antarctica, is considered to be one of the greatest explorers of the 20th century due in no small part to his success at bringing home his party and the leadership and concern that he displayed while doing so. This tale culminates in Shackleton’s rendition of his epic 800 mile ocean journey in an open whaling boat that, under his command and guidance, he and five other crewmen undertook to secure help for the remaining 22 members left behind on Elephant Island. This portion of the story alone represents one the greatest sea tales of survival ever told. 

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