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Endurance

Author : Alfred Lansing

Genre : Nonfiction

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance with 26 handpicked men and one stowaway and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. There could hardly been a more heterogeneous collection of individuals. They varied from Cambridge University dons to Yorkshire fishermen. With few exceptions they came to like each other, which ended up being a strength of the group.

In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice, the ship became beset—locked in an island of ice. For ten months the Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. They then took to the three life boats, sledges, and precariously walked and sailed, or were blown—always wet and cold—miraculously making it to the desolate Elephant Island around April 20, 1915.

With no options left, and leaving the rest of the crew to wait for their return, Shackleton and 5 others attempted an impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic’s heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization. This depended on their small lifeboat successfully finding the a tiny dot of land—the island of South Georgia.

Alfred Lansing has written a story of survival in the face of continued and unexpected circumstances, endurance in all kinds of exhausting weather, and a supreme effort on the part of the whole crew that eventually brought them safely home.

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