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am 31. August 1999
The story of Shakleton's Endurance expedition is my all-time favorite, having discovered it after I found out that my ancestor was one of the heros (Tom Crean). This book's highlights were the extra unpublished photographs and the details of the lives of the survivors after they made it back to civilisation. However this books fault (and a major one) is that it details the time on the Endurance and on the ice floes at the expense of the stories about the two boat journeys and the crossing of South Georgia. The crossings of Drake passage and South Georgia are almost rushed through (I can't even remember Drakes Passage even being mentioned). All the drama of the voyage of the James Caird, probably the greatest boat voyage ever undertaked, and the brilliance of Worsley's navigation are completely lost in the authors effort to tell us about the lives of the men on Elephant Island, especially Hurley of whom she is particularly fond. Frank Worsley's 'Shackleton's Boat Voyage' conveys all the drama and excitement of the voyage of the James Caird in vivid detail, while Alfred Lansings' 'Endurance' is without a doubt the best book written on the subject, a book I couldn't put down for a second, and I knew how it ended.
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am 9. Mai 2000
Bookstores are flooded with various titles covering Shackleton's Endurance expedition, but I heartily recommend starting with this excellent release from Caroline Alexander.
The narrative is a well told accounting of the origins of the voyage, the expedition itself, and a good epilogue that feeds your desire to know what became of these guys after the completion of the journey. Alexander did her homework here - she talked to the few remaining crewman still alive after all these years as well as the family members of those crew members that have passed away.
However, what sets the book apart from the rest of the field is the lush, magnificent printing of 170 of Frank Hurley's stunning photographs. The photos do more than any words can to enhance the readers understanding of the stunning polar conditions and deprivations suffered by the crew. Flip through any of the other books about the Endurance, and you'll find a only small sub-set of Hurley's photos, usually notable only by their poor reproduction quality (Shackleton's own 'South' memoir springs to mind).
In addition to its intrinsic value in describing one of the foremost adventurers of the Polar Age, the book is also helpful to anyone looking to learn about leadership. Shackleton took his responsibilities of leadership very seriously & practiced the art long before anyone like Peter Drucker or Tom Peters came along to give it a name and study it. Shackleton's tendency to be inclusive rather than exclusive and his expert reading of the personalities that comprised the crew were the key differences between survival and death. Alexander does a wonderful job reporting the episodes that capture the essence of Shackleton's role as a true leader of men.
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am 11. Juni 2000
This is the book that really started the current round of "Shackleton-mania" and it is a good introduction to the story of the Endurance Expedition, well written, researched, and, of course, beautifully illustrated with the classic photography of Frank Hurley. But it's important to view it only as an introduction. Heacox' "Shackleton-The Antarctic Challenge" goes into more detail, and Shackleton's own books "South" and "Heart of the Antarctic" are also must-reads, while Lennard Bickel's "Shackleton's Forgotten Men" chronicles the little-known adventures of the Ross Sea party of the Endurance Expedition. So if this book leaves you wanting more, go on to those other titles. Alexander's book also suffers badly from not having an index. I still highly recommend it for its writing style and the wonderful reproductions of Hurley's photographs.
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am 12. Februar 2000
This is a truly gripping and beautiful book. The story of the voyage and survival of the Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to traverse the Antarctic continent on foot, is truly awe-inspiring. The photographs of Frank Hurley, the expedition's photographer, are sublime and powerful. I can't recapture the magnitude or beauty of the book in a few words, but two things struck me as particularly moving. At one point, Shackleton and five men sailed 800 miles in a 22-foot boat through the tempestuous South Atlantic Ocean to reach help. I doubt that even Alexander's account of the voyage does justice to the courage, skill and fortitude exhibited by these men.
Two comments put this one piece of the survival struggle into perspective. Alexander comments, "They would later learn that a 500-ton steamer had foundered with all hands in the same hurricane they had just weathered." And upon reaching civilization for the first time, the captain of the Endurance, Frank Worsley records the reaction of some of the hardiest seamen in the world:
Three or four white-haired veterans of the sea came forward. One spoke in Norse, and the Manager translated. He said he had been at sea over 40 years; that he knew this stormy Southern Ocean intimately, from South Georgia to Cape Horn, from Elephant Island to the South Orkneys, and that never had he heard of such a wonderful feat of daring seamanship as bringing the 22-foot open boat from Elephant Island to South Georgia.... All the seamen present then came forward and solemnly shook hands with us in turn. Coming from brother seamen, men of our own cloth and members of a great seafaring race like the Norwegians, this was a wonderful tribute. (The Endurance, pages 166-167).
The second thing I found so moving about Alexander's account was the skillful and authentic way she weaves Hurley's unbelievably stark and beautiful photographs into the fabric of this story. Most moving of all, though, is the absence of photographs during the voyage described above. Shackleton, who lived and led for his men, left them to bring help, and it is somehow fitting that we have the same sense of solitude and lack the tangibility of a photograph to reassure us about the well-being of the 22 men left behind.
Shackleton ("the Boss") to his men, was a true leader. In her conclusion, Alexander writes of him, "He would be remembered not so much for his own accomplishment -- the 1909 expedition that attained the farthest South -- as for what he was capable of drawing out of others." She goes on to quote Worsley:
Shackleton's popularity among those he led was due to the fact that he was not the sort of man who could do only big and spectacular things. When occasion demanded he would attend personally to the smallest details.... Sometimes it would appear to the thoughtless that his care amounted almost to fussiness, and it was only afterwards that we understood the supreme importance of his ceaseless watchfulness. (The Endurance, pages 193-194).
Alexander goes on to say, "Behind every calculated word and gesture lay the single-minded determination to do what was best for his men. At the core of Shackleton's gift for leadership in crisis was...the fact that he elicited from his men strength and endurance they had never imagined they possessed; he ennobled them."
I think the most interesting passages with respect to his leadership are those that deal with the obvious INCREASED strain that Shackleton experienced after HE was safe but 22 of his men remained stranded on Elephant Island, even after 2 attempts to reach them. Again, Worsley's insight is revealing: "The wear and tear of this period was dreadful. To Shackleton it was little less than maddening. Lines scored themselves on his face more deeply day by day; his thick, dark, wavy hair was becoming silver. He had not had a grey hair when we started out to rescue our men the first time. Now on the third journey, he was grey-haired."
When Shackleton finally reached Elephant Island and realized that all his men had survived, Worsley writes, "He put his glasses back in their case and turned to me, his face showing more emotion than I had ever known it show before...we were all unable to speak. It sounds trite, but years literally seemed to drop from him as he stood before us."
In my estimation, this is the true quality of a leader: he leads his people, but more than anything, he leads FOR his people.
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am 2. November 1998
As a serious Endurance student I say bravo! Ms. Alexander has brought a fresh perspective to one of the greatest survival stories of all time. The previously unpublished Hurley photographs are fabulous. She also took the time to give far more detailed explantions behind the photos than would most writers.
The details from the time the Endurance sank through the arrival of the James Caird at South Georgia are vivid, putting to use the very personal feelings and perspectives from the crew members. She also does an excellent job in "fleshing out" the men's personalities, along with their quirks and rivalries. She uses quotes from some of the "less important" members as other writers have not.
I found the short excerpts of the men's lives after the journey until their deaths absolutely fascinating. This part, along with the previous descriptions and photos added to my feeling that these were real men and not just some caricatures from an anecdotal story left over from someone's fading memory.
This book will eventually replace Lansing's Endurance as the most popular source of this great story.
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am 19. Januar 1999
This book is worth purchasing for the fantastic Hurley photographs. But for the best told version of the story, the Lansing book is still supreme. Alexander can't compete describing the heart-stopping thrills and terror of the journey. If you are only going to read one Endurance book, get the Lansing one instead. Having read that one, you'll probably want to get this one, too. Perhaps some day the ideal version will appear -- the Lansing text with these Hurley photographs.
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am 12. März 1999
It's Frank Hurley's photos that make this book--not Alexander's writing which is dry and dreary (a difficult task to do given the gripping nature of this adventure, so unreal that it's hard to believe it really happened) Too bad Alfred Lansing didn't have Hurley's photos to go with his 1959 book. That's how this book should be used--to go with Lansing's book. Read his words and look at Hurley's photos and the survival of the Endurance crew becomes all the more amazing.
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am 9. Mai 2000
This book is about an expedition that is controlled by Ernest Shackleton. He has a crew of twenty-seven people and they are in the pursuit of the last prize in the history of exploration: the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. On August 8 of 1914, the Endurance set sail from Plymouth. They traveled all the way to Buenos Aires, stopped for reloading of resources and then they headed for South Georgia, which would be their last stop before the final push. After one month in Georgia they left freshly provisioned and perfectly rested. The ice conditions were said to be bad but they kept on going and only stopped at the sea of ice that surrounded their destination, the Vahsel Bay. The endurance got stuck as the ice formed around the ship due to a very cold night. The crew after that saw that there was no chance of them getting out of there. They starting making camps outside the boat and just waited for it to vanish into the packs of ice. One day the packs of ice moved, compressing the boat and turning it all into small pieces. The sailors now had no way back. They fought with nature trying to survive for 22 months until a rescue ship finally rescued them. They were made heroes of Britain on their return. All of the characters in this story were important because they were all one crew and everyone worked together as a team. However, I would say that the most important character in the story is Ernest Shackleton. He is the person who put this entire expedition together and worked hard for it to happen. Another important character in the story would be Frank Hurley, the photographer of the expedition. There are many other important characters in this book. In my opinion all are equally important with the exception of Shackleton and Hurley. I thought that this story was very exciting as it told a story of a real expedition with real people and not some fiction type of nonsense. The book is based on a true story and is basically a documentary about the entire expedition with diary entries and photographs of the journey. I kind of identify myself with the other characters because I am the type of person that always likes a new adventure and I think that if I was called up for it at that time I would most certainly do it. I learned from this story that teamwork, cooperation and patience is everything that a group of people needs in order to get through the hard times. This goes for everything in life. I give a number 10 grade for this book. It was very well written and the pictures in it were just amazing! It certainly made me feel like I had actually been there.
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am 15. Oktober 1999
The Endurance by Caroline Alexander is a non fiction book about an explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they try to become the first explorers to cross Antarctica on foot. Sir Ernest Shackleton was one of the most known polar explorers of his day. Shackleton and his crew of 27 set out to sea on his boat Endurance on August 8th, 1914. The 28 men went down to Buenos Aries, Argentina then they continued to their last stop South Georgia Island which is in the southern Atlantic before they went to the pack ice and beyond. Once they got the ship into the pack ice they followed the cracks between each floe (leads) to try to get to the main land of Antarctica. Do they ever get home to England? Do they all even survive such a journey? This book was a heart racing kind of book. If you previously were not interested in history books The Endurance might change your opinion. I was impressed by how these men risked their lives freezing to death just to obtain their personal goals. The adventure of when they have to abandon ship will leave you hanging from your seat. The way Caroline Alexander wrote the book was engulfing . Her detail was thorough and she must have put many months of research on their journey. She also used clips from journals telling in the sailor's words what was happening and what was going on in their minds. I have read a few books about sailing the sea and The Endurance was the best one because of the way in which it was written. The photographer Frank Hurley took unbelievable shots of the whole expedition. The types of photos that were taken included, black & white stills, movies and color slides. The photographs look like they were taken recently by a digital camera instead of a Kodak in the early 1900's. Technically the pictures are crisp and clear for surviving the 22-month journey. This is a book that should be in every school library and all public libraries so everyone can experience The Endurance.
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am 4. Dezember 1998
This book appealed to me on several levels. I've long been drawn to tales of survival and have lately been enjoying Man vs Nature adventure stories with the publication of "Into Thin Air," but nothing prepared me for the humbling experience of reading "The Endurance" and studying the amazing photographs taken by one of the expedition members. It has been two days since I've put the book down, and I'm still chilled to the bone and can't seem to get the briny, saltwater taste out of my mouth. I couldn't have lasted 6 hours in the conditions these men had to endure for many, many months. To spend every waking and sleeping moment wet and cold and to eat nothing but seal and penguin are daunting enough; to make the 800-mile journey across open seas in winter in a lifeboat is incomprehensible. It's also hard to imagine the effect of total isolation from all outside contact for so long. Not only did these men not know that the Great War was still raging in May 1916, but no one else on the planet had any notion of where they were or even if they were still alive. I have to wonder if anyone in this day and age has the character, fortitude, or resilience to endure what all 28 men experienced. I also have to credit Shackleton's abilities as a leader for their survival. How differently the story would have turned out had Robert F. Scott been the commander!
The photographs were stunning both from an artistic standpoint and for their historical value, and it's amazing that they, too, survived the ordeal. (The fact that Shackleton and Hurley felt the photographs were worth salvaging at a time when the men had to keep their possessions and provisions to a minimum speaks to Shackleton's prevailing optimism.) I would love to have an enlargement of the haunting night photo of the icebound, frost-covered Endurance.
"The Endurance" is a well-written tribute to these men. The afterword, describing what became of each of them after their rescue, completed the story.
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