Monday, March 17, 2008

Book Review: Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Now this is a man versus nature story.  Bear Grylls' Man v. Wild on the Discovery Channel is pathetic by comparison. (We all know that the safety crew is there, just beyond the field of view of the cameras.)

In 1959, Alfred Lansing wrote this well researched account of Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated attempt to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent.  Shortly after departing South Georgia Island in December 1914, the Endurance found itself stuck fast in pack ice, due to a freak summer storm.  For the next 11 months, Shackleton and his men lived on the ice-bound ship, until it was finally crushed by the pressure of moving pack ice.  
Shackleton and his men then survived by camping on ice floes for more than 5 months, killing seals for food and fuel, until the ice floes they were camping on split and melted.  Tenaciously clinging to life and hope, they navigated through icebergs and stormy seas until they reached Elephant Island.  There 22 men were marooned while Shackleton and a small crew attempted to sail across the deadly Drake Passage back to South Georgia Island in a 22 foot life boat named the James Caird.  And this is where the story starts getting good! Amazingly, none of the men aboard the Endurance perish during their long ordeal.

I am astonished and inspired by this true story of human endurance.  Sometimes I get tired in my ministry and I get tempted to slow down or quit.  Shackleton's example of leadership and endurance is one that I want to follow.  

Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, New York: Carroll & Graf (1959), 282 pages, paperback.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Shackleton's adventure is one for the ages; no doubt about it. It's one story that fits the word "unbelievable", very well. Another great one is "The Heart of the Sea", by Nathaniel Philbrick.