This is what I mean by poor planning. If I had known I was going to read Endurance I would have chosen it for “Far And Away” and moved The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind to “Own Voices” and gotten a damn Bingo by now but alas, I did not think ahead.
Endurance is the story of Earnest Shackelton’s ill-fated 1914 expedition to Antarctica told through journal entries and the survivor’s recollections in the following years. I was recently reading a Cracked article about things you don’t realize where happening at the same time- things like McDonald’s opening within a few days of Auschwitz and so on- and I would like to add that Shackelton left for Antarctica with able bodied men at the onset of WWI! He had the blessing of the British government of course but it is still sort of strange timing.
“No matter what the odds, a man does not pin his last hope for survival on something and then expect that it will fail.”
So I think everyone knows that the ship got stuck in ice and eventually sunk; the men then drifted along on packs of ice for nearly 1,000 miles to their originally intended base camp. The plan was to drag their lifeboats with them until they got to one of the islands where they would then send a small party to South Georgia (about 500 miles away) for help. Along the way the deal with inhospitable weather conditions, unpredictable ice cracks where they set up camp and the various dangers that come with camping in a frozen wasteland. While the risk of starvation lingered in the backs of their minds they were able to eat fairly comfortably most of the time as the penguins and seals were unfamiliar with human predators and therefore easy prey.
The whole story, while true, is absolutely unbelievable. While the men are frostbitten and suffer a variety of injuries throughout the year they’re stranded- including on heart attack- everyone survives! Lansing delivers a well written account of Shackleton’s mark on history although the read can be a bit dry at times.
Oh and all the dogs are killed. But they don’t eat them which you’re supposed to take solace in.