Because at the turn of the century the South Pole had the emotional value now attached to Everest, the man who penetrated its reaches, Ernest Shackleton, was hailed as a hero, knighted, and has been the subject of biographies previous to this one in an attempt to discover what it is that makes an adventurer. Anxious to leave no facet of the man's life unrecorded and unexplained, the present biographers have amassed documents and letters touching on every phase of the explorer's life -- his letters to his prospective father-in-law, employers, colleagues and even his poetry (which was of a mediocre variety). Shackleton, born in Ireland, a doctor's son, went to sea at 16, later was a member of the National Antarctic Expedition as a merchant service third lieutenant, was invalided home, became involved in several tasks -- as editor, political aspirant, Secretary to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society -- none of which could provide the proper outlet for the man's tremendous energy. He organized his own expedition to the Pole in 1907 which was followed by two others. He died on the third. At no time did Shackleton reach the South Pole but he had advanced to 97 miles from the Pole, the farthest point then reached. The authors are concerned with elucidating Shackleton's motives in undertaking the Polar journeys; what he was like at home, under command and in command. The effort is prodigious and highly competent. The inclusion of the most minute detail removes this volume from a popular audience.