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am 5. November 1999
As criticized by other reviewers, this book does not pretend any falsehoods. It is a fictionalized account, of course, but is based on the accounts and journals of ALL of the crew, not just the famous or the high ranking. The true hardships are recounted in the footnotes, most notably excerpts from the diary of Henry McNeish, Chippy,s owner, bunk mate and ships carpenter. In a way Mrs. Chippy's account, built from references of all the other journals, speaks for those also marginalized and also only known through footnotes. McNeich spent 28 hours toiling in waist deep frigid water to build a coffer dam in an attempt to hold back the water in the beginning of the end for the Endurance. Do we remember his name? Perce Blackborow, young and desperate for adventure, stowed away and worked hard as ships steward, assisted and filled in for the cook when he fell injured. Do we remember his name? Louis Rickinson and A.J. Kerr, ships engineers, worked at the boilers below decks, even as the ice is pressing the hull made all manner of horrible and terrifying noises. Do we remember their names? Through Mrs. Chippy's eyes we catch a glimpse of all the crew, in their bravery and their humanity. Lastly, any who would question the character or depth of relationship between even the hardened explorer and the ships cat, consider the following: Commander Frank Worsley, the Captain of the Endurance, chose the photo of Chippy and Blackborow that adorns the cover of this book as one of the few he published. ALL the diaries of the members of the expedition had descriptions of Chippy. Let me close with this quote from the poet Christopher Smart from his ode to his cat, Jeoffry:
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary. For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes. For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
We are shielded from Chippys final fate, the journal ends on October 29th. Chippy perished that afternoon. Remember Chippy, and remember all those whose story is recorded in footnotes.
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am 30. Dezember 1997
All cat lovers will recognize the behavior and thinking of cats so observantly and lovingly depicted in this little gem of a book. It's a cat book, a history book, and an adventure book all in one. Written in diary form, it tells the story of Shackleton's antarctic voyage from the point of view of the expedition's cat, Mrs. Chippy. The expedition, the last of the heroic age of polar exploration, might have been wiped out, as was the Scott expedition a few years before. If only Scott had taken a cat with him, things might just have turned out differently. Somehow, Shackleton's crew survived. Mrs. Chippy, like the men of the expedition, is in many ways just an ordinary cat, not a hero. We read of her (well, actually, it's really his) devotion to ship routine, never missing a meal, always inspecting things and keeping watch, and his comic demonstrations of how a mouse works. Don't skip the footnotes! They are necessary to round out the story's "human angle." Caroline Alexander has carefully combed the photographs made during the expedition for traces of Mrs. Chippy. Don't look for digital insertions of Mrs. Chippy where none had existed before, as in Forrest Gump. Instead Ms. Alexander makes a delightful game of inferring Mrs. Chippy's presence. Is that Mrs. Chippy on Page 108? What do you think? My only criticism of this book relates to its ending. Armchair explorers may not be ready for this surprise.
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am 3. Mai 2000
You've read the tale of the Endurance and you can't get enough of this incredible epic. You must now read 'Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition'. Ms. Alexander, in a delightfully strange manner, has provided a unique perspective on both the expedition and on the relationship between a cat and its mates. If you read 'The Endurance', you already appreciate Ms. Alexander's scholarly and literary abilities. (Frankly, it easily rivals the accounts of Lansing and even Shackleton, himself.) When you read 'Mrs. Chippy', you will also appreciate her profound perception of both feline and human behavior. It's a pity that other reviewers feel they must exhibit their knowledge of Mrs. Chippy's actual fate, but don't worry, if you love cats, nothing can prepare you for the end of this book. Thank you, Caroline Alexander, for a truly remarkable story.
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am 14. Januar 1999
This book is NOT precious--cat fanciers will find Alexander's narrative about how an intelligent cat views things to be one of the best, most balanced, and yet non-syrupy writings on this subject to date. Everyone else might actually learn something about the affect cats have on people, in this case some hard bitten explorers in a stressful situation most of us can't imagine.
Knowing the overall context of this story (Mrs Chippy was shot at 2:55pm the day after her "journal" ends on Shakleton's orders prior to an aborted dog sled attempt to reach land) makes this story haunting, even tragic. But, it also shows how an event now considered triumphant (the crew's return unharmed) is fraught with little tragedies along the way. That is what makes this story haunting and thoughtful.
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Mrs. Chippy's Last Adventure is the best-written book I have read in many years (and I read a LOT!) The book is written from the point of view of Mrs. Chippy, a (male) cat who was privileged enough to join Shackleford's Polar expedition in the early 1900's and who was stranded in the polar ice fields along with the remaining 28 crew members. The book is based on actual events and a great deal of research obviously went into the telling of this remarkable human and feline-interest story. The author captures Mrs. Chippy's world view remarkably well; cat lovers will KNOW that they are seeing these events unfold through the eyes of a very perspicacious cat. As an added bonus, Mrs. Chippy is a damn funny feline, albeit sometimes unintentionally - I laughed out loud throughout the book.
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am 18. Juli 2010
Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition is an unusual account of Shackleton's third expedition to the Antarctic - extensively researched by the author. It reveals a great deal about day-to-day activities on board the "Endurance", fascinating facts about the Antarctic, and much about the character of the men who took part - their tremendous courage, determination, leadership, humanity.

And their strong bond to Mrs Chippy, the carpenter's cat, who set down her observations in a diary.

It is written with an abundance of humour and charm - and is one of the most heart-warming books I have ever read.
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am 30. Mai 1999
This tale filled in more gaps in my knowledge about Antarctic travels. I'm unfailingly impressed by the endurance and optimism of those who journey in these harsh regions, particularly in the early part of the century. It is a well told tale and I enjoyed it although I still feel a sense of shock about the end, while accepting the pragmatism it does set off trains of thought about the use humans make of animals and the wider consequences of polar exploration. Mrs Chippy did play a very important part in the trek and deserves acclaim.
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am 14. Oktober 1998
This lovely book gives a stirring impression of the real courage of Shakleton's crew on that remarkable voyage. Men in a situation of real danger and gripping fear show a camaraderie not disclosed in ordinary times. Who could observe and describe these better than a dedicated, but completely objective, cat? Caroline Alexander clearly knows a great deal about Antarctic exploration, about maritime history, and about loyalty and sacrifice. An entertaining, informative, and in the end an inspiring and unforgettable book!
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am 6. August 1998
I can't wrest myself away from this book's haunting effect on me.
The author has graciously given us entre to the interior terrain of a powerful little persona -- an intrepid little (in size only) soul. Mrs. Chippy will long linger poignantly in your heart.
I have spent many many long weeks in the ice pack that circles Antarctica, and next year when I'm next in its midst, Mrs. Chippy's presence will be dwelling with me -- it will be good to be with him again.
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am 5. November 1999
But a note to "A reader from Seattle, WA , January 2, 1999": recheck your references. The "journey on the ice" begins at the *end* of "Mrs. Chippy's last expedition". All the preceding took place while the ship was still afloat. So Chippy was there. At least two photographs and two sketches by crew validate this.
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