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Shackleton's Boat Journey: The Narrative from the Captain of the Endurance Paperback – June 1, 2001
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One of the great survival stories of all time. -- Library Journal
[L]ucid prose leavened by dry British wit. -- San Francisco Chronicle, Paul McHugh, 17 September 1998 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
A native New Zealander, Frank A. Worsley served as a reserve officer in the Royal Navy before becoming captain of the Endurance. He commanded two ships in World War I, for which he was decorated, sailed with Shackleton again in 1921, and in 1925 was the joint leader of the British Arctic Exploration. Worsley died in 1943. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Adding to the whole experience are the phenominal pictures taken and preserved by the expedition photographer, Frank Hurley--boy do these ever add to the drama! An amazing epic!
These hair raising events are not part of the story of Shackleton's Boat Journey, but simply the preamble, described in less than a page, that sets the stage for the real action that is to follow.
The tale is told by F.A. Worsley, the Captain of the Endurance. And what a saga it is, as the entire crew barely makes it to Elephant Island and from there an advance party navigates across the raging, freezing ocean in a tiny boat, all the way to South Georgia Island, from which the balance of the crew are eventually rescued, without one man being lost.
What these men endured is beyond belief, yet Worsley recounts it humbly, with understatement, and with considerable grace. Here is an example of his prose:
"Squall by squall the wind grew fiercer and the sea heavier. Through a rift in the clouds the moon shone out on the stormy sea and for two minutes revealed the ghostly white uplands and glaciers of the island. Another squall blotted everything out. We heard whales blow right alongside. They may have been killers, but, whatever they were, a push from one of them would have capsized us. If they were killers we would have had a quicker end. Soon to our great relief they left us for some nobler quarry than dirty smelly little men in Burberry overalls".
It is amazing that in the midst of a Herculean struggle for survival the author was able to take note of beauty in what must have been a living hell, and to describe it so elegantly. Here for example, is his description of icebergs, "All the strange fantastic shapes rose and fell in a stately cadence, with a rustling, whispering sound and hollow echoes to the thudding seas, clear green at the water line, shading to a deep dark blue far below, all snowy purity and cool blue shadows above".
This combination of gripping action and poetic insight makes for a richly rewarding read.
From the start Shackleton had the odds against him, and returning with all hands after being frozen in, transporting over the ice, sailing from Elephant Island to South Georgia in a 6.9 m long boat and then undertaking a hazardous crossing of mountains and glaziers to Stromness on South Georgia, makes the feat even greater. The boat trip met all kinds of tough weather from icing to hurricanes.
My sou'wester off to Frank A. Worsley's writing and his navigation - also a great feat.
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