From Publishers Weekly
While the story of Ernest Shackleton's crew of the Endurance
is well known, the fate of Shackleton's Ross Sea support party has largely been forgotten—until now. Charged with laying supply depots for Shackleton's aborted 1914–1916 trans-Antarctic trek, the Ross Sea party became stranded when its ship tore free of her moorings and disappeared in a gale. Cambridge historian Tyler-Lewis's account of the 10-man party's plight relies heavily on the men's journals, which are amazingly detailed, considering the physical (snow blindness, scurvy, frostbite) and mental (depression, paranoia) problems they faced. The men's decision to lay the depots despite the obstacles demonstrates their courage, but Tyler-Lewis's narrative doesn't focus solely on heroics. Instead, the heart of the book lies in Tyler-Lewis's dissection of the men's relationships with one another. As friends are made, alliances formed and resentment festers, humanity is never lost, even amid inhumane conditions. Given the collection of military, civilian, scientific and blue-collar personnel that made up the expedition, it's compelling to see how each man deals with his fate. Add in the party's adventures of sledding in subzero temperatures with the sociological aspects of being stranded for nearly two years in such an inhospitable place, and the result is a gripping work. Maps, illus. (Apr. 24)
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Many books tell the story of Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition across the Antarctic aboard the Endurance
. Tyler-Lewis focuses on his supply team, the Ross Sea party, whom Shackleton sent to the opposite side of the continent to support his crossing with food and fuel. While Shackleton traveled south, the Ross party were to sail aboard the Aurora
into the Ross Sea and set up supplies for Shackleton every 60 miles. But the Aurora
was torn from its moorings in a storm and washed out to sea, leaving 10 men stranded on the shore. They were finally rescued after two years. Tyler-Lewis writes that in the face of catastrophe they persevered, and contrary to the very instinct of survival, with most of their clothing, food, and equipment gone, the stranded men chose to risk their lives, marching 1,300 miles to build a lifeline of depots for Shackleton's party. Tyler-Lewis, a historian, located the diaries and logs of 16 survivors. She also found public records and private papers and interviewed the families of the Ross Sea party members. An exciting book. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved