SHACKLETON by Ernest Shackleton


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Gripping replay of Shackleton's four South Polar expeditions, taken from his diaries, published books and other Antarctic writings; edited by a director of BBC television documentaries, including the Shackleton series. Neither biography nor autobiography, the book collects letters, diaries, newspaper articles, some poetry and selections from Shackleton's own descriptions of his two famous expeditions, Heart of the Antarctic and South, with linking passages by Palling that form a clear idea of the overall pattern of Shackleton's life. RaiLing also quotes unfavorable passages from diaries by disgruntled team members who found themselves heavily disillusioned with Shackleton. Ralling's comments never quite overcome the reader's suspicion that they may have been speaking partial truths. Shackleton made four South Polar voyages. The first was with young naval officer Robert Falcon Scott as leader. This one ended with Scott, Shackleton and their doctor making the final assault on the South Pole but falling short. According to Scott, Shackleton became a tremendous burden on this assault, was not ""the right stuff,"" and Scott shipped him home early. Undismayed, Shackleton later mounted his own expedition. Scott, piqued, demanded that Shackleton not use Scott's old polar base as his own, since Scott himself was mounting a new attack. The rivals split the Antarctic between them on a map. Weather, however, forced Shackleton to use Scott's old base. This attack got within a hundred miles of the pole before falling back. Scott's attack ended in his death. Meanwhile, Amundsen of Norway actually made the pole. So, for his next polar voyage, Shackleton tried for a transantarctic trek. This team, however, never even got landed on the Antarctic and was forced to abandon its strike. Even so, Shackleton returned a hero. His fourth attack was cut short by a fatal heart attack, killing him at 47. Aside from the sheer adrenal interest in man against-nature accounts, Shackleton happily boasts sublime passages of Antarctic description that make clear indeed why these explorers were lured back by the siren beauties of the ice world.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 1986
Publisher: Bedrick--dist. by Harper & Row