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Shackleton Paperback – February 26, 1998

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Amazon.com Review

Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Anglo-Irish explorer, never achieved his goal of reaching the South Pole, though he was knighted in 1909 for having come within 100 miles. With bravery matched only by his theatricality, Shackleton sought to top that accomplishment by landing on one side of Antarctica and traveling the width of the icy continent by sledge. What might have been a great exploratory journey turned into a raw struggle for survival when his ship became trapped in pack ice, and he was forced to lead his team on a desperate trek across hundreds of miles of the world's most dangerous terrain. He made it home, but even his stature as one of Edwardian England's greatest heroes could not save Shackleton from financial risk taking; he ended his life mired in debt. Roland Huntford's biography presents a balanced and lively portrait of a man who was, depending on which of his contemporaries you asked, a national hero or a contemptible rogue. --Robert McNamara

From Publishers Weekly

He is a biographer's dream: Ernest Shackleton was ruthless and ambitious, an unabashed adventurer, an inspired leader, a glorious failure. Also, for much of his life, he was beset by financial and romantic entanglements. Huntford, author of Scott and Amundsen (basis of the recent PBS series The Last Place on Earth), has written a superb account of heroic adventure, of ineptitude and disappointment. Shackleton left a career in the merchant marine to join Robert Scott's expedition on the Discovery (1900); sent home for reasons of health after the first season, he determined to try for the South Pole on his own. The bitter rivalry with Scott had begun. Shackleton's charm and powers of persuasion enabled him to raise money for his 19071909 expedition that came within 100 miles of the Pole. Back home, he was a national hero with financial troubles (he always sought instant fortune). Again, he found backers and planned the "last great journey" across the Antarctic continent. This produced epic adventure: the loss of Endurance in the ice and the long, open-boat journey to safety and rescue. It is one of the greatest survival stories of all time, and Huntford gives it full treatment. Readers interested in polar exploration will find this book hard to put down. Photos. January 14
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (February 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786705442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786705443
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Miklos C. Kiss on March 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read of Shackleton in National Geographic. That only whetted my appetite to hear his entire exruciating journey. Roland's biography took me two months to read, but it was worth it.
I will never forget Ernest Shackleton. From "Shackleton" I leaned about leadership, the power of hope, optimism, human relationships; the power of dreams, perseverance. You will learn more from "Shackleton" in two months than you will from a lifetime of MBA professors.
Shackleton's antarctic journeys are the most engaging tales of survival, endurance and human pressure that I have ever read. Can you image yourself crossing 1,000 miles of frigid south Atlantic seas in a 20 foot boat, with 3 men, a box of matches, a pulpy map, a Victorian compass, and insufficient water in order to save the lives of 50 men who are in an even worse predicament! He did all that and more.
If you like real life stories of survival and adventure, you will enjoy this book to no end.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
Huntford's book is the definitive Shackleton. Contemporaries compare him to Churchill; in his ability to use language with presence of personality to entertain, convince and convert listeners into followers. He couldn't be trusted with women or money but on the ice or at sea many men trusted him with their lives; repeatedly. He had the ability to make his dreams yours and make you want to achieve them. You will find here the leadership that was beyond Scotts comprehension, the perseverance that the RGS needed but could not recognize, and the courage not to sacrifice life for fame. Shackleton was one of the few men in history who in desperate circumstances actually improved under the stress; became more resourceful, more courageous, more obstinate.
If Lansing's book left you wide-eyed and open-mouthed in astonishment this book will compound that, fill in the social and political context, and completely describe Shacks and all who came in contact with his whirlwind of adventure, ambition, and survival.
Put this book up on your shelf next to Manchester's Chruchill, Morris' Fisher, or Rice's
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Such a fantastic book, using copious material from the explorers diaries with page turning narrative. By reading this book you become a member of the expeditions, feeling cold, hungry, tired, dirty and seasick.
Comparisons between the British and Norwegian explorers of the day are fascinating. While you can relate to the British explorers as hero's, you are also made aware of their failings. It is clear that in many instances their need for endurance was often self inflicted, while the Norwegians move quickly in comfort. The book makes you realise that the British were true amateurs in polar exploration and it is truly amazing that any came back alive. Yet, despite these failings, men such as Shackleton seem to thrive in adverse conditions. You can only marvel at Shackleton's ability to lead, when many others would sit down and give up. They are true hero's and you root for them every step of the way.
Huntsford brings this adventure to life. I must now travel to Antartica to satisfy my thirst for more.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tom Bruce on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Biographer Roland Huntford has combined extensive research and superb story telling into an amazing tale of a most contradictory figure of Edwardian England. At the turn of the 20th century, Ernest Shackleton was one of the heroes of the British Empire. But, by the time of his death, in 1922, he was quickly on his way to becoming a forgotten man. What is most surprising is that he became a hero at all, because he accomplished nothing that he set out to do, and his life was a personal and financial failure. And most of it was his fault. His first Antarctic sojourn to the South Pole was with his later rival Captain Robert Scott. Scott and his fellow explorers had to carry/drag Shackleton much of the way home without them coming close to reaching their goal. His second assult on the South Pole he led himself, but was forced to abandon his quest with only 100 miles to go. Before Shackleton could make his next attempt, Scott reached the South Pole, but died before he could return. So, Shackleton's next venture to make a name for himself was to walk across Antarctica. Before he could begin his cross-continent trek, his ship, the Endurance, was caught in the ice and crushed. Shackleton and his band of hapless men fought bitter cold, starvation, trecherous seas, etc., as they struggled to survive. Yet, without having accomplished his goals he became a hero, because he was an adventurer who never gave up, and that met the criteria of that time. However, the reason he was mostly unsuccessful was because he refused to accept the proven methods of ice exploration. He wouldn't consider using skis or dogs, ways that had previously been proven to be successful and most historians now believe would have made the difference between his success and failure.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Neil Fordyce on August 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
The story of the Endurance is brilliantly put by Roland Huntford. Shackelton must be measured by the success of getting his crew through this horrific saga. This book should be read along with "Scott and Amundsen" also by Huntford - the story of the race for the South Pole. Huntford also published a biography of Nansen. "Shackelton" sits on my shelf next to Martin Gilbert's biography of Churchill. Note that this book was first available in New Zealand and Australia in the mid 1980's.
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