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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and The Endurance

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,120 Ratings  ·  644 Reviews
The harrowing story of the ill-fated Endurance, now in paperback.

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica from one side to the other. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. The expedition survived another five months campin
Paperback, 144 pages
Published September 12th 2000 by Crown (first published January 1st 1989)
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Excellent YA Nonfiction
18th out of 37 books — 3 voters
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Books Worth the Effort
56th out of 57 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 05, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing
I'm writing this from the second floor of a Victorian rowhouse on Palace Court, a street just around the corner from Kensington Gardens in London. This building, this very flat, was once the residence of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the hero of this remarkable story. Across Kensington Gardens sits the Royal Geographical Society, and on the east side of the building's exterior is a statue of Shackelton. How cool is that?

I've read this book many times because it's a standard in my YA literature courses.
Apr 11, 2008 Kristie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Angela
Recommended to Kristie by: Chris Crowe
Shelves: ya
I noticed one of my friends is planning to read this same story, but by a different author. The story is amazing. I like this particular version because it is written toward young adults and the author, Jennifer Armstrong, has invested years of research to produce her account of this historical event. The first page is amazing and there is an entire chapter on ice...I never knew ice could be so compelling! When you think about it, this story is truly inspiring. 27 men attempt to explore the Anta ...more
Feb 10, 2016 Dana rated it it was amazing
I am not a non-fiction reader, but with this story, I'm a fan. I would love to read it in first person narrative. Or see a movie made from it. Really, truly incredible! I'm going to have my 10 year old read it.
Ollie M.
Nov 17, 2014 Ollie M. rated it really liked it
Jennifer Armstrong's book, shipper at the bottom of the world is one of my favorite books I've ever read. This story is about 27 men that sail to Antarctica on a boat called Endurance. England sent them to be the first group of men to travel from one side to the other of Antarctica. Then their boat bottom punctures. Then they were left to survive on their own and maybe make it out of Antarctica. To me this is one of favorite books because of the way leaves you wondering almost after every page i ...more
Kira Brighton
Jul 19, 2016 Kira Brighton added it
Recommends it for: Educational use
This was a required book for my YA Lit class, in preparation for reading WHITE DARKNESS. I imagine in conjunction with that book, or for anyone who is interested in exploration and the Antarctic, it's a good read to try.

I can't say I was incredibly invested in this book, because I'm not generally interested in exploration or the Antarctic or men on boats killing lots of animals, but it told the story well and presented the facts in a way that seemed accurate. Well put-together.

I was riveted. Between the story itself which is harrowing and kick-ass and the writing, that had a nice mix of text and photos from the mind-blowing expedition that went wrong and right all at the same time that will captivate any adventurous spirit.

I gravitate toward Shackleton's stick-to-it-ness and his survival instinct, his ability to lead and improvise, not take any prisoners, and his tenacious spirit. The quote at the very beginning "For scientific discovery, give me Scott; for speed and
Pete daPixie
Jul 19, 2011 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it
Jennifer Armstrong's 'Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World:The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance' is read cover to cover in just a few hours. Even so, in just one hundred and twenty six pages it is cram packed tight to contain what has to be the most incredible story of human exploration, fortitude and survival that it is possible to come across.
It is just not possible for a fiction writer to match this true life epic. How on earth Shackleton and his twenty seven man exped
May 06, 2010 Cara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-lit
Once you begin reading this nonfiction historical adventure, you become hooked and can’t simply abandon the story—too much seems at stake. As you read the introduction about the icy and dangerous climate of the Antarctic, and then you read that not only was a British crew stranded there, in 1915, but that all of the men survived, you feel compelled to continue reading.

Once you are engaged in the story, the novel continues to hold onto your interest. It provides enough biographical and historica
Nov 18, 2012 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Summary: This was a fantastic informational book about a man named Ernest Shackerson and twenty seven men that sailed from England to Antartica in 1914. These men wanted to be the first men to sail to cross Antartica from one side to the other. Five months into the journey, the men were one hundred miles from land. Their boat, named Endurance got trapped in ice. The men spent five months camping on an elephant island with minimal resources, trying to stay alive. Then, they traveled eight hundred ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014reviews
I have read Jennifer Armstrong's Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World three or four times now. The narrative is so strong and compelling, and, yes, even inspiring. It is definitely one of my favorite nonfiction books. And nonfiction isn't something I usually take the time to reread.

Originally published in 1998, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World won the Orbis Pictus Award in 1999. The book follows "the extraordinary true story of Shackleton and the Endurance." If you are unfamiliar with this
Jun 08, 2008 Jens rated it it was amazing
I'm kind of a sucker for survival stories (but for some strange reason I hate "Lost"). The story of what the crew of the Endurance had to go through to survive is amazing. Being stuck in a frozen wasteland, far away from civilization, and yet surviving an antarctic winter as well as a hurricane is truly amazing. My favorite part: When the crew sleds all the way down a mountain on makeshift sleds so they don't freeze to death. "We must have covered 2 miles in only 2 or 3 minutes."
I went and saw
Brittany Brassell
Jan 24, 2016 Brittany Brassell rated it it was amazing
I actually picked up this book in 2011 and flipped through it, reading here and there. 5 years later I got my hands on it again. Great read! An incredible story of survival.
Jan 24, 2015 Elena rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2016 Brittany rated it liked it
Shelves: books-16-20
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World- by Jennifer Armstrong
(suggested grade level: 7th-10th)


A: For the student:
This is a great book to help kids get into historical, non-fiction. Yes, it is a true story, but it is so jam-packed with adventure that it almost seems fictitious. It's a book that could interest either gender. It is a fairly short read. The large, beautiful pictures also help captivate the young reader's attention. Also, this book could be op
Gracie Classon
Jun 24, 2016 Gracie Classon rated it it was ok
Shelves: class-16-20
This was on the required reading list for YA lit. This book started off OK, and I found it more interesting than I thought I would. However, slowly but surely, it became extremely tedious. How long can one person read about below freezing temperatures and other harsh conditions? It seemed that the only thing that changed throughout the book was the men's location. Not that I don't appreciate what these men went through, it's just that I don't want to read about it for 125 pages. I really enjoyed ...more
Dec 09, 2015 Cammie rated it it was ok
In the race to explore the last frontiers on Earth, Sir. Ernest Shackleton leads a crew of thirty-some men to trek across the Antarctic just as WWI begins. Despite thorough preparation, Shackleton and his crew become frozen in the surrounding ice pack before ever reaching the actual continent. Detailing the months trapped aboard their ship, Jennifer Armstrong tells tales of the men’s daily routine, how they stayed sane, their efforts to break loose of the ice,
Dec 05, 2015 Chelsey rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This is a story about the survival of Ernest Shackleton and his twenty seven sailors who attempt to cross the Antarctic Continent while being fully aware of the dangers and the weather. Throughout the story they get trapped in ice and end up losing their ship leaving them to try to survive the Antarctic winter. They also get attacked by different animals while surviving on land like sea lions while trying to get to Elephant Island which was around 600 miles from where their boat sank. After gett ...more
Kayli Jorgensen
Sep 04, 2015 Kayli Jorgensen rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-420
For a non-fiction book, it was a fascinating read, and one I would definitely recommend. I am not a huge fan of non-fiction, but historical non-fiction is my favorite of the genre, and this book was much more exciting and fast-paced than the thick academic texts on Abraham Lincoln or the Battle of Bunker Hill. Despite its obvious lack of an attempt to fit into a more academic criteria, the depth of information provided speaks volumes to the amount of research Armstrong put into writing t
Jan 01, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
"For scientific discovery, give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel, give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton."
- Apsley Cherry-Garrard, polar explorer, 1922

4.5 This is a young adult book about Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, an attempt to make the first land-crossing of Antarctica. Much like Apollo 13, the expedition is remembered as a "successful failure".
They launched from Plymout
Dallas Hadley
Sep 18, 2014 Dallas Hadley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-420
Category: Required

This narrative non-fiction book follows Captain Ernest Shackleton and his crew as they attempt a voyage to Antarctica. When their ship, the Endurance, become trapped and destroyed by ice, the crew is forced to start a new journey to survive. They spend months walking on unstable, freezing ice floes towards open ocean where they can attempt to sail on small boats to a remote island. From there, Shackleton and a small group sail to find help off the coast of South America. All i
Taylor Payne
Sep 15, 2014 Taylor Payne rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-420

This non-fiction narrative tells the story of Ernest Shackleton and his crew of the "Endurance" in the early 20th century who set off to be the first to cross the Antartic. The voyage is well planned and gets off to a good start, but is halted when the ship gets stranded in between floes of ice. For some time, the crew stays on the ship and tries to keep things normal. But then, the floes start to crush the ship, and Shackleton makes the heartbreaking decision to abandon the En
Sep 14, 2014 Kelly rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book for the most part! It's definitely not a book I would have ever picked out of the blue, but I'm glad I read it. Shackleton, an explorer with more tolerance for cold than I could ever muster, leads an expedition down to the South Pole, with plans to trek across the entire width of Antarctica. However, he and his crew never even make it to shore, instead becoming stranded in the middle of the ocean surrounded by icebergs and no open water to escape into. The c
Sep 10, 2014 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: engl-420

The nonfiction YA book recounts the survival story of Shackleton's crew. I knew a little about this expedition but couldn't believe what it entailed. It is a testament to mankind's will to survive and help one another. It is also a fantastic piece on what it takes to be a leader. Also, being a religious person, I appreciated her acknowledgment of the crew's, or at least some of the crew's, feeling that Providence was guiding them along. Armstrong did an incredible job mixing nar
May 07, 2014 Simon rated it it was amazing

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, by Jennifer Armstrong, is a captivating adventure memoir of Sir a Earnest Shackleton and his expedition to travel across the hostile continent of Antarctica. In 1908, Shackleton was the first British explorer to come within 100 miles of the South Pole. When he returned to England, he was knighted for he bravery and efforts. Immediately, he became a hero to thousands, and he was determined to return and complete his mission. In 1914 he returns to the South P
Aug 20, 2016 Ariana rated it really liked it
Great read. I never knew of this story in history. Quite interesting and such a crazy story. I can't believe 28 men were all, " Yes. I will go and cross Antarctica!" Crazy people. I guess that is why I am not a explorer. Shackleton is a brave man and I think he was such an interesting man at that. It would have been fun to have met him. Just wouldn't have wanted to be in a ship stuck among icebergs and freezing/starving near to death. Blubber and dog meat isn't exactly on my diet.
Dec 10, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-420

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World follows the true account of explorer Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to Antarctica and attempt to cross the continent. When winter hits early and the ship starts running out of supplies, Captain Shackleton has to find a way to keep his crew alive in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world. Armstrong takes an interesting approach to the narrative in that she writes the outcome of the voyage at the beginning of the book. The nonficti
Karen Cordon
Apr 22, 2016 Karen Cordon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-lit-class
In between 1901-1917, Sir Earnest Henry Shackleton went on three exploring expeditions to Antarctica. The first time he had to turn back due to health problems. On the second trip, because of bad weather, his group stopped 97 miles short of being the first explorers to reach the South Pole. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, by Jennifer Armstrong, tells about Shackleton’s third trip to the Antarctic, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Since Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer, had alre ...more
Jul 15, 2015 Tonya rated it it was amazing
The quintessential story of endurance, a modern day classic for leadership skills. This amazing story builds in suspense throughout, with never a dull moment. I loved every minute!
Jul 19, 2016 Cassie rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-books-15-20
This is not the sort of book that I would normally read on my own but it sure was interesting. I normally read fiction but the journey of these men was very impressive. I am most impressed with how they were all able to stay sane and consequently stay alive. I would recommend this book to a friend. I read this book because it was required but as I have said it was quite interesting. It seems like it would be a good book for students 8th grade and older. At this age I feel that they would be able ...more
Kaitlyn Adams
Dec 06, 2015 Kaitlyn Adams rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-420
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World is about Captain Shackleton and his crew from England who sail to the bottom of the world in hopes to be the first crew to cross Antarctica. They never actually make it there, however, because their ship gets stuck in ice. The crew support each other, camping and killing seals for food and playing with their snow dogs. They brave endless ice and open water, and Shackleton is able to bring his crew back alive. I thought this book was compelling, and a really g ...more
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Jennifer Armstrong learned to read and write in Switzerland, in a small school for English speaking children on the shores of Lake Zurich. The school library had no librarian and no catalog – just shelves of interesting books. She selected books on her own, read what she could, and made up the rest. It was perfect. As a result, she made her career choice – to become an author – in first grade. Whe ...more
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