Sir Edward Shackleton sets off in 1914 on a quest to cross the continent of Antarctica. Half of his group will land on one side and plant supply catches half way across. He and his men will land on the other side, and using these supplies, will cross the continent. Except, no.
The other side (presumably) accomplished their task. But he and his 28 men never got to Antarctica itself. Instead, less than two weeks later, their ship, the Endurance, was trapped in ice in the Weddell Sea. And now they slowly drift northwards, along with the ice, for nearly nine months. Until the ice starts to crush the ship. And then the hard bit starts.
This is just an amazing tale. Their expedition didn’t set records, it wasn’t what it was meant to be, but (spoiler alert) two years later, all 29 make it back to South Georgia Island, from whence they started, missing only a few toes. They had to split up a few times, eventually leaving most of the party on a tiny beach on inhospitable Elephant Island for five months, whilst six of the crew left to cross over 800 miles in basically a life boat to get help. Crossing the Drake Passage in the middle of the Antarctic winter was beyond ridiculous and yet somehow it happened.
This book, written in 1959, is in narrative style, supported by the diaries that many of the men kept, some personal interviews with the survivors, and even some amazing photos. Really well-done, a page tuner of the first degree. Very highly recommended.