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Tom Crean: Unsung Hero of the Scott and Shackleton Antarctic Expeditions Hardcover – February, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books (February 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089886870X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898868708
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #655,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

"Tom Crean was the difference between life and death" for two members of Robert F. Scott's 1910-13 Terra Nova expedition. With this statement, British journalist Smith demands that history revisit the heroic age of polar exploration, focusing on one of the lesser-known heroes. Tom Crean went to Antarctica with Scott's Discovery (1901-04) and Terra Nova (1910-13) expeditions, as well as with Ernest Shackleton's Endurance (1914-16) expedition. Some of his courageous accomplishments include ice-floe hopping and climbing the Barrier to affect a rescue, traveling 35 miles in 18 hours with minimal rations to get help for others, and the infamous crossing of the southern ocean to South Georgia Island with Shackleton. Crean was awarded many medals, including the Albert Medal, the highest recognition for gallantry. But Smith argues that because of politics and the class prejudices of the day (Crean was a poor Irishman), he did not receive the recognition he was due. Crean was not a diarist, so Smith relied on interviews, letters, the diaries of Crean's contemporaries, and previously published works for this captivating account of one man's often overlooked contributions. Recommended for polar and exploration collections and larger public libraries. Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville, IN
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Tom Crean survived three expeditions to the Antarctic. The first was with Robert Scott aboard the Discovery (1901-1904), the second with Scott aboard the Terra Nova (1910-1913), and the third with Ernest Shackleton aboard the Endurance (1914-1916). Crean's exploits are almost unbelievable, for along with Shackleton and Frank Worsley, he made the first crossing of South Georgia to save their comrades stranded on Elephant Island. In researching this engaging work, which is deliciously full of other such daring feats by this unassuming man, Smith interviewed Crean's two daughters and two grandsons. Additional sources include a number of archives in England, Ireland, and New Zealand; newspapers and periodicals, unpublished diaries, journals, and records; ships' logs; letters, and Crean's service documents. The result is an absorbing, meticulously researched biography of a genuine hero. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

He was a man of great courage, strength and conviction.
W. Tuggle
Wonderfully presented, this book was fascinating to read and will be most treasured in my collection of polar exploration books.
Michael J. Muller
You can feel the cold come out of the pages and tears in your eyes as you feel you are sharing the good times and bad times.
Annie Doyle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert R. Briggs VINE VOICE on February 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read almost every book I can find on Antarctic exploration and without a doubt, this is one of the finest. Tom Crean is always mentioned in books about early Antarctic epics but we've never really got to know him and what kind of a man he was. Michael Smith has done a fine job in tracing Crean's life from his early days in the Navy, his subsequent trips with Scott and Shackleton right up to his final days as a Pub owner is his home in Ireland. This is the kind of man you'd want whatever your expedition might be. He was brave, strong, honest, trustworthy and humorus, no matter what the circumstances. A great story about a real hero!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tom Crean survived several famous Antarctic adventures of the Edwardian Era, and yet is hardly mentioned in most of the popular Antarctic Exploration books. Michael Smith does a fantastic job telling Crean's personal history with humor and understanding, while giving insight into the expeditions, the explorers and Antarctic History as a whole. This is a must-have for polar enthusasts (or shall we say, PolarGeeks?).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Muller on February 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Any reader of the many books written on the Heroic Age of Polar explorations will very much enjoy this well presented biographical history of a tough Irishman who accompanied Shackleton on two Antarctic voyages (including the ill fated
Endurance trip) and Scott on the ill fated trek to the South Pole.
Wonderfully presented, this book was fascinating to read and will be most treasured in my collection of polar exploration books. Do not hesitate to select this book if you enjoy nonfiction adventure.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
An excellent account of the life and achievements of Tom Crean, a veteran of three Antartic expeditions, including the ill fated Scott expedition and the Endurance expedition. Good narrative and some beautiful photos combine to make this biography an excellent and fascinating read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan S. White on December 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A captivating read and even more than a book about Tom Crean.
Michael Smith assembles a intriguing chronology that reveals
a compelling perspective of the times and lives of the Polar
Explorers. An insightful character analysis into the leadership and the crews.
My only complaint is,after Smith's meticulous documentation of names,dates,latitude/longitude, and geographic locations,
the book offers only a few rudimentary maps. But you can easily remedy this(inconceivable oversight)by obtaining the USGS Topographic Index Map of Antartica(free)and a beautiful Satellite Image Map($7 US)scale 1:5,000,000 mapI-2560.I plotted as I read and ended up with a great reference souvenir.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rodney J. Szasz on July 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
One night last week I watched "Scott of the Antarctic." Being very impressed with the realistic nature of this 1960 production and, always impressed with the stalwart, intrepid, and frankly at times, insane daring of the British Explorers, I picked up this volume from my shelf and read the whole thing in a single night!! It had actually been given to me by an Irish friend about two years ago.

I am grateful to that friend. Here in one book is more adventure than several explorers can pack into many lives - all accomplished by a single man - Tom Crean -- backbone of the Expedition: stalwart working-class hero and embodiment of everything that made both Ireland and Britain great nations.

Tom was the non-com backbone of the operation. Someone capable with his hands, able, trustworthy and dependable in the extreme, men like Crean built the Empire and made feats of arctic exploration possible. From an adventure reader's point of view Crean was part of the last accompanying party with Scott, before Scott's choice to proceed onwards with 5 men deemed fittest. Of course Capt. Scott assured his posterity by dying along with 4 of his men. What I did not really know was the epic adventure Crean and his remaining companions endured in their eventual return.

I will spare the details, but this book is packed with non-stop action (one thing that sticks out in my mind is the wild and very imprudent sled ride down the glacier -- it has to be read to be believed -- especially by anyone with actual glacier travel experience).
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Tuggle on January 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Tom Crean is a true hero of the age of exploration. He was a man of great courage, strength and conviction. He was a member of two South Pole voyages with Scott and one with Shackelton. One could argue that had Scott chosed Crean over P.O. Evans to represent the "lower decks" on the last push to the pole, Scott may have survived to tell the tale. As it was, Crean is credited with saving the life of Lt. Evans as they struggled back after being the last support group to leave Scott and his party of five on the polar plateau and thus were the last to see them alive. Additionally, Shackelton credits Crean with, if not saving his life, being integral to the success of the Endurance expetdition by playing a central role in Shackelton's escape from Elephant Island and hike to eventual safety. Michael Smith tells an exciting, compelling story of the stark realities of the age of exploration in the early 1900's. This book is a factual story, expertly told about the "follower" Crean, a quiet man with strength and character that are so remarkable it is difficult to comprehend. Everyone of us can learn something from his example. This is a story about human endurance and will.
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