Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

150 of 152 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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.
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
81 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Several days after purchasing Caroline Alexander's, "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition" from Amazon.com, I read a few customer reviews that recommended Alfred Lansing's 1959 classic: "Endurance: Shakelton's Incredible Journey." These reviews extolled Lansing's book, and pointed-out how Alexander's was essentially a rewrite of this earlier work. Consequently, I also purchased his book, and thoroughly enjoyed reading the two of them while on vacation a few weeks ago. (I had already begun Alexander's book -- so, completed it before beginning Lansing's.)

Alexander's book has one (and only one) distinct and obvious advantage over Lansing's -- the inclusion of scores of the original expedition photographs taken by Frank Hurley (the ship's photographer). These photos are incredible and make Alexander's book indispensable to anyone interested in Shakelton's Endurance expedition.

That said -- here's why I gave her book only ONE STAR. In the Acknowledgements" section of her book, Alexander makes only a one sentence reference to Lansing's earlier work -- something to the effect of, "An exciting sea adventure." (although more elaborately stated).

Yet, Lansing's "Endurance: Shakelton's Incredible Journey" is a far better account of the Endurance expedition than is Alexander's -- better written, longer (maybe 50% more narrative), far more detailed in its entirety, much more interesting and exciting to read, PLUS: IT WAS FIRST..!!

It surprises me that Alexander paid no real tribute to Lansing's earlier work -- which in many respects seems to have been simply reworded by Alexander. There are, for certain, some substantive differences between the two books (owing the the large amount of source materials, including crew diaries) -- but, on the whole, these are not of real significance; and on balance, Lansing's book tells the entire story much better than Alexander's and is a much more exciting read.

So, buy them both -- Alexander's for the photographs and supplemental information and Lansing's for the tremendous narrative and historical significance. But please Caroline: Give credit where credit is due...
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After reading this book, I bought and read the "classic" by Alfred Lansing and while it was a very good read, I believe Alexander's book to be the better one. She includes details about the crew and Shackleton and about their post-voyage lives that makes the story much more personal. In addition, she includes details of the journey which were left out of Lansing's book which left me with the impression that Lansing was "protecting" Shackleton against possible negative or critical comments--an entirely unnecessary thing to do given his incredible leadership of this voyage. For example, Lansing's book does not talk about the mental breakdown of several of the men after the boat trip to Elephant Isle nor about McNish's resentment of Shackleton for having to kill Mrs. Chippy. Nor does he mention Shackleton's and the other crew member's claims to have felt a "fourth presence" with them on the last climb over the mountains of S. Georgia. These details, together with the incredible photography included in Alexander's book, make her book the more complete and equally exciting rendition of this incredible voyage.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The story of Shakleton's trip to the antarctic is another truly amazing story of survival and recounts one of the last "heroic" adventures of exploring our globe. The event at its time was overshadowed by WW I, but for nearly two years Shakelton and his crew remained either ice bound or adrift on ice flows until landing on uninhabited Elephant Island. From there Shakleton and a small crew crossed the south Atlantic in an open boat in terrifying conditions, made an improbable land fall and were able to effect rescue of the entire crew without a single fatality. In todays world of synthetic fleece, goretex, lihtweight, waterproof thermally efficient gear it is nearly incomprehensible to imagine being cold and wet for two years in antarctic conditions, and surviving. This is a great story of human forbearance, patience, endurance and faith. The writing is a bit flat and at times it seems drudgery to get through, but the story is compelling. The writing is based on diaries and other accounts are heavily utilized. It is the great photography of voyage photographer Frank Hurley that makes this book rank 4 stars by our book club. Readers in our group also read Lansing's account and felt it to be a superior writing of the ill-fated voyage.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Caroline Alexander, author of this extraordinary book filled with breathtaking photographs, is guest curator of the traveling museum exhibition "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition." As unforgettable as the book is, the exhibition is even more spectacular! The greatly enlarged copies of the photographs, combined with artifacts, diaries, a reproduction of the James Caird lifeboat (frighteningly small) , and personal memorabilia contributed by the families of these explorers make Shackleton's voyage tangible, very much more than something in a book, even one as good as this one.
For those interested in seeing the exhibition, it is at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA from June 23 - Sept. 10, 2000. It will be at the Field Museum in Chicago from October 7 - Jan. 14, 2001. It will be at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences from Feb. 10 - May 6, 2001, and it will be at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington (in Seattle) from June 7 - Dec. 31, 2001.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I first read this book, and then I read Alfred Lansing's "Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage." I enjoyed the pictures in this book, but found Lansing's description of the journey more engaging. My recommendation is to read Lansing's book together with using the pictures and maps in this book to help visualize the writers' stories.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 1999
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Caroline Alexander's book touches something deep within our human spirit; challenge, hope, survival and love of life. For those who love to challenge themselves by the outdoors with the hope of great rewards these experiences can bring, read this book to understand how these pursuits can also provide very real dangers, except in this book the dangers go beyond one's imagination - twenty-two months in wet, sub-freezing conditions on ice, frozen lands and the Antartic's violent oceans.
If you have read or enjoy reading books and adventures like Krakauer's "Into Thin Air," this book is a MUST read.
Frank Hurley's photographs are excellent. Frank Hurley's committment to taking these pictures is unbelievable when considering the environmental conditions of this part of the world.
My emotions rose and fell with the reading of "The Endurance." The book is a well-written tribute to the 28 men of the expedition. These men are adventurers and heroes beyond description. I was pleased with Ms. Alexander's afterword, which described what became of each of them after their rescue, this completed the story.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (Paperback - March 19, 1999)
$8.98

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (Hardcover - April 29, 2014)
$20.96

The Endurance
The Endurance by George Butler (DVD - 2012)
$15.92
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.