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Shackleton's Forgotten Expedition: The Voyage of the Nimrod Paperback – October 13, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ernest Shackleton's fame has been restored due to renewed interest in the heroic tale of the Endurance expedition, but his original celebrity status stemmed from an earlier voyage to the Antarctic from 1907 to 1909, during which he led a small group of men to within 97 miles of the South Pole. Riffenburgh (The Myth of the Explorer) recounts this journey in riveting detail, describing how Shackleton and his crew survived under harrowing conditions, sometimes brought on by their own tactical misjudgments, like the decision to rely heavily on ponies to carry supplies across the frozen landscape. The story also offers vital clues to Shackleton's personality, revealing how he first went to the Antarctic in order to impress his girlfriend and, more importantly, examining the competitive rivalry between Shackleton and fellow explorer Sir Robert Scott. Scott had sent Shackleton home from an earlier expedition for health reasons, and when Shackleton vowed to return to Antarctica in part to prove he was strong enough to make it, Scott viewed it as a threat to his own plans and unfairly extracted a promise from his former crewman not to use "his" base camps, adding further complications to the journey. For those who thrilled to the Endurance saga, Riffenburgh offers an equally gripping adventure, which laid the foundations of Shackleton's capacity for brilliant leadership under pressure.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Much has been written about Shackelton's Antarctic expedition, during which his ship, Endurance, was trapped in the ice of the Weddell Sea and crushed, and about his open-boat journey to South Georgia, his crossing of that island's mountains, and the rescue of his men. What Riffenburgh believes were Shackelton's "most significant geographical accomplishments, greatest deeds, and most momentous decisions" were attained on the first expedition that he led--the British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-9, aboard Nimrod, a former whaler. The members of this expedition not only achieved remarkable scientific results but also became the first to climb Mount Erebus and first to reach the South Magnetic Pole. It was for these exploits that Shackleton was knighted and received his greatest acclaim during his lifetime. Riffenburgh's book is based on original sources-- diaries, journals, letters, and papers of the expedition's members--and is the first study of that expedition since Shackleton's account, The Heart of the Antarctic, published in 1909. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582346119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582346113
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,849,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Eric Martin Chown on November 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Everyone has heard about Ernest Shackleton's remarkable Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, when his ship Endurance was crushed in the ice and Shackleton made his epic open-boat journey to South Georgia to help rescue his men. What most people don't know was that the first expedition Shackleton led to the Antarctic was every bit as full of derring-do and death-defying moments as his later one. Moreover, historically it was much more significant than his other ventures.

"Nimrod" is the story of that first expedition, when Shackleton, with no official support and pulling everything together on a wing and a prayer, led a small group of inexperienced men to the Antarctic. This party overcame numerous challenges to accomplish remarkable achievements, including making the first ascent of the great volcano Mount Erebus, being the first men to reach the South Magnetic Pole, discovering and ascending what was the largest known glacier in the world, being the first to reach the heart of the Antarctic plateau, and shattering the record for the farthest south ever reached, by coming to within 97 miles of the South Pole. But each sledging party that went out from base camp almost ended in death and disaster, and it is part of the enthralling telling of this tale that trouble builds upon trouble until only hardihood, courage, and a great deal of luck could pull Shackleton and his comrades out of the fire.

This book is a model of what history can be at its best: a masterful combination of scholarly research and compelling dramatic narrative that keeps one desperately reading throughout the night in order to find out what happens next.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on December 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Today you can look at what's going on at the South Pole by simply pointing your browser at: [...] It's hard to imagine that in 1908 Shackleton went through so much trouble trying to get there and not making it. I look at the pictures of him using pony's to pull sledges. And his boat, the Nimrod, with her sails set; you almost want to say, "are you kidding."

There is a lot of discussion in this book about the conflict between Shackleton and Scott. It has been said that if you really wanted to get somewhere on an expedition, you should go with Scott. But if you're priority was more on getting home alive, go with Shackleton. This was, I think never so evident as in Shackleton's next voyage in the Endurance.

This book focuses on the voyage of the Nimrod, as it says in the sub-title, but it is more than that. The insight Mr. Rifenburgh shown in his understanding of the people, the way he brings them to life with good story telling and his grasp of the overall view of the explorations make this book an absolute delight.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. on January 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
The book is a good overview of the events, achievements and characters of the Nimrod expedition and appears to be well researched. However, I got the impression that the author really wanted to write a book about imperialism, especially after much of the first third of the book and the concluding chapter of the book focused on this subject as much or more in some places than on the expedition. I understand that the author is trying to provide the reader with some background on society and the issues of the time which would have influenced the explorers of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, but it seemed like way too much space was devoted to the subject of imperialism and its influence. Much of the beginning of the book also has a lot of information on Shackleton's life, and the book also recounts Scott's first Antarctic voyage, which Shackleton was also a major part of. While in some respects I appreciated this recap, I wish there had been more detailed information on the Nimrod expedition itself, as this is the expedition that one expects to read about due to the title and book description. If there were a certain or limited number of pages this book was allowed to be, it would have been better to devote more of those pages to the topic promised rather than spending a good third of the space on background information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sewin'sq on July 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It does state that this author is an historian, so that explains how he writes. But, for me, there was just WAY too much extended history of years & years & extended empires, which supposedly influenced Shackleton. That does not interest me, so I had to skip large amounts of text. FINALLY Chap 11, on pg 129 (of 312 pgs), sums it up: "Underway at Last" !!!---but even that was rather sluggish. The rest of the book was alright, but after reading so many of the related Shackleton adventures which I could not put down, this did rather drag along. Nonetheless, it does round out his life some more, detailing events besides his most memorable "successful failure" of the Endurance! That reminds me of Apollo 13!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ranger on May 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
For my taste, the Nimrod expedition is a better read than the Endurance's and that is saying a lot. For one thing, the ascent of Mt.Erebus is great fun, and the Magnetic Pole trek of Douglas Mawson, Prof. David and Dr Allister Mackay will drive you nuts! The interactions between those 3, the shift of leadership, the way Mackay treated David, all of those are worth reading.

Finally, the Polar Party dash (Shackelton, Wild, Adams and Marshall) is so interesting, so vivid you won't be able to think of nothing else.

What I found the most interesting were the quotes from Frank Wild's diary. He isn't pulling any punches. He's not wearing kid's gloves.

All in all, a book worth reading more than once!
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