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Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  83,607 ratings  ·  5,817 reviews
The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. When their ship was finally crushed
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published January 1st 1959 by Carroll & Graf Publishers
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Lo The famous Mallory quote you're referencing was a joke. The real reasons for people doing the unfathomable are almost always impossible to explain in …moreThe famous Mallory quote you're referencing was a joke. The real reasons for people doing the unfathomable are almost always impossible to explain in a trite interview format, to a person who inherently doesn't get that drive because they don't possess it themselves.

His actual reason for his completely irrational attempts at Everest is perhaps better revealed by another quote of his, "Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves."

Self-mastery and discipline are lofty goals, but indeed are primarily the concern of those so fortunate and privileged as to worry about them, as opposed to those who struggle for survival without needing to pursue new challenges. It's totally fair to not want to partake of that kind of story, but it's not accurate to presume that anyone just climbs a huge mountain or journeys to a hostile, frozen wasteland because they have nothing to do.

As for what challenges are available to us in the modern age, I'd hazard that there are more than there used to be. It's true that there aren't the same large physical frontiers, and it's increasingly hard to do something that hasn't been done before, or be the most superlative at anything in a world with billions of humans. But the increased complexity of our society affords nearly infinite possibilities to those who want to be bold, to live authentically, to pursue new horizons, etc.

Whether there's any point to all that is as dubious as it's ever been, but the history of humanity's progress has never made much room for asking "why?"(less)
Alexander McAuliffe According to the author of the introduction to my edition of Endurance (Nathaniel Philbrick), Shackleton's account was ghost-written and is full of mo…moreAccording to the author of the introduction to my edition of Endurance (Nathaniel Philbrick), Shackleton's account was ghost-written and is full of more flowery Edwardian language than survival skill and leadership on display here. (less)

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Behold...the gentleman whose exploits crushed the last vestiges of manhood from my fragile psyche*:
* Psst....don’t mention this to my wife as she thinks she took care of this years ago.

Stranded for over a year in the most inhospitable climate on the face of the Earth, literally one tiny step away from complete disaster due to starvation, extreme weather or the ice flows on which they lived deciding to crack and deposit into the freezing depths below.


Holy persevering manliness Batman, I
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
oh my god i feel like i haven't written a review in ages., how you holding up without my pearls of wisdom??

i was going to write a DBR of this last night, because that's what shackleton would do, but then i ended up eating candy and doodling instead, and that is why i live a life of mediocrity and insignificance and i am not like shackleton, who ran into some trouble on a boat ride and managed to triumph over impossible odds.


that's what i love the most - his unflagging op
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A captivating and inspiring tale of exploration, human endurance and survival.

In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men set sail for the South Atlantic on board a ship called the Endurance. The expedition was to cross the Antarctic overland. In October of 1915 the ship became trapped and crushed in Ice and the crew now half a continent away from their intended base became castaways in one of the most hostile regions in the world.

I have had this book on my TBR list for quite awhile and
There aren't many true-life tales that live up to the hype. There are always some details that make the story just a little less dramatic than in the made-for-TV movie. Not this time. While listening to this audiobook, the thought that went through my head over and over again was "Holy s***!" The book starts with the Endurance, trapped in the Antarctic ice, being literally crushed to death. The men abandon ship, and then float on the ice pack for months. When the pack breaks up, they launch the ...more
Andrew Smith
I've read my share of leadership texts over the years – an occupational necessity for a while – and a name I came across more than one was Ernest Shackleton. Some sources reckoned him to be possibly the greatest leader that ever lived. Well that’s some claim and it’s something I knew I'd have to look into sooner or later. So when I came across this book, originally published in 1959, the time had finally arrived.

I knew that the man was an Antarctic explorer but precious little else. I soon learn
What an incredible story! This was my introduction to Shackleton, and I am left reeling from the experience.

I chose Endurance to add symmetry to my list. Earlier this year I read In the Kingdom of Ice, Hampton Sides' excellent book about a doomed expedition to the North Pole, and I thought I should balance the hemispheres by reading about a South Pole expedition. Lansing's book was highly rated by GR friends, and justifiably so.

What struck me about the writing was how modern it was. Lansing had
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am almost unable to express my feelings about this amazing and unbelievable story. I finished the last paragraph with tears running down my face and shaking my head in disbelief.

If this were a work of fiction, you'd barely believe it, but you'd credit Alfred Lansing for his story-telling and imagination.

It's not fiction, and you can't help but find yourself in a perpetual state of awe over these men and their optimism, faith, humor, determination, and endurance.

I felt quite unworthy on every
Natalie Vellacott
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, classics
What an incredible adventure.

Endurance tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempts to cross the Antarctic overland with his 27 man crew. But, in October 1915 when they were still half a continent away from their intended base, their ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. The entire crew with 50 dogs left the doomed vessel, camping on ice and using small boats to attempt to reach the nearest island. They became castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world. Any hope of sur
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
Although this book was nonfiction, it read like a thriller. The author interviewed survivors of the ill-fated 1914 expedition to Antarctica and also used some of their diaries as his source material. I wanted to learn a little about this expedition after seeing a play in which Ernest Shackleton was a character. (It was actually a strange little musical, and not particularly good, but it managed to pique my interest.)

Shackleton was a flamboyant, arrogant adventurer, who was interested in fame, gl
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While reading this novel, I never ceased to feel amazed at the courage of the group of men who undertook a voyage into most unfriendly regions on our planet more than 100 years ago, and who dared to dare. I feel thankful to those who travelled to the place where I'd never venture. Film based on this novel with Kenneth Branagh is worth watching, the novel is much more terryfing, though.
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
*2.5 stars*

Other than the bazillion amounts of bonus points that I got from my history-loving father for reading this one, I found Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage to be a little underwhelming.

Honestly, it's a fascinating story and a true testament to the will of man, but it is also extremely repetitive. Though the narrator was very good, I had trouble keeping my attention on the story as the guys killed another seal and were cold... again... for hours and hours of listening time on e
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is quite the tale, what a crazy adventure! Endurance tells the story of Shackleton and his crew and their Arctic expedition. The men ran into more than their fair share of trouble, to put it lightly. The book is fascinating and really shows you the incredible power of human resilience and tenacity. Perfect for an armchair traveler, it read like a novel and I couldn't put it down!

Find more reviews and bookish fun at
Laura Noggle
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: History lovers, true story enthusiasts, fans of exploration.
10/5 ⭐️'s: An exciting, epic battle of survival; Stoicism to the nth degree. Truly incredible. 🏆

“The ship had been named the Polaris. After the sale, Shackleton rechristened her Endurance, in keeping with the motto of his family, Fortitudine vincimus—"By endurance we conquer."

Easily one of my all-time favorite books—ever—it's not hard to see why astronaut Scott Kelly brought it with him to the ISS not once, but twice. Although I hazily remembered Shackleton's voyage from history class, it wasn't
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Endurance’ is Alfred Lansing’s very thorough, workmanlike but effective and affecting – at times moving account of Shackleton’s ‘Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic’.

For anyone who is not familiar this story – quite simply, this must be the greatest true story of survival against all the odds and is simply unparalleled in our times.

The book, as the expedition, is a sobering, frightening story of unrelenting suffering, challenges on a super-human scale, seemingly unrelenting and insurmountable ob
Diane S ☔
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Thoughts soon.
Fred Shaw
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, Narrated by Simon Prebble, Blackstone Audio Book

This is an incredible account of a December, 1914, British Antarctic expedition of 28 men and their venture to sail to the Weddell Sea. They were to land a shore party near Vahsel Bay, in preparation for a transcontinental march via the South Pole to the Ross Sea. They never made it to the starting point. Halfway there they were caught in ice floes and the ship was eventually crushed and
TS Chan
I am in awe and in tears.

The ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the Endurance has got to be one of the most phenomenal survival stories that will last through the ages. The conditions that beset the crew of the Endurance were brutal and harrowing beyond my imagination. I don't think that even a fiction writer could have conjured up the unbelievably horrific circumstances that were endured, and survived, by Shackleton and his men.

On the book itself, the narrative was written by
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Maude
This was exciting! I recommend this book to those who want to throw themselves into another world, albeit a world cold, wet, icy and filled with fear, exhaustion and hunger.

Ernest Shackleton set out in 1914 to cross the Antarctic from west to east. Yes, WW1 had broken out and he had Churchill’s go-ahead Why? For the glory of Britain and for his own glory too. The race for polar discovery was in full-swing. On December 14, 1911, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the first successful expe
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brandon by: Stephen
Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 men have taken away my man card. Seriously.

I have never even remotely come into a situation as dire and desperate as the stranded crew of the Endurance. If I did, I’m sure I would curl up in the fetal position and just hope that it all works itself out. That being said, it wouldn’t be long before I would freeze to death or be killed and eaten by a sea leopard. However, if Shackleton was my captain, he could probably get more out of me then I would think possi
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For scientific leadership give me Scott; for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems no way out, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.

A story not only of survival, but of the boundless will to live. I was amazed at the tenacity not to succumb to what presented itself as an impossibly bleak circumstance: marooned on ice in the Weddell Sea during the approaching Arctic Night. My favorite character by far was the Drake Passage, whic
RJ from the LBC
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a straightforward, perhaps even understated, telling of Ernest Shackleton's failed 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition that led to a lengthy (over a year) battle against the elements for survival, including a crossing of the Drake passage in a 22-foot whaleboat using only rudimentary navigation equipment and a never-before-attempted overland crossing of treacherous South Georgia island with only a small length of rope and a carpenter's adze. Writing in the 1950s, Lansing was able to suppleme ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm sorry. I know this is an incredible survival story, but I have to call bullshit. This is being advertised as a story of "leadership" and "heroism" when it's more like the opposite. I used to be OK with letting such stuff go as a "conversation starter" but I now think such fuzziness is too dangerous.

Shackleton plans the expedition for the sake of a publicity stunt that he hopes will make him rich. He picks his crew "capriciously." He "hypocritically" adds a science component. He ignores advi
The unbelievable and tragical story of the Ernest Shackleton's expedition to Antarctica and their struggle to survive for an interminable period of time.

The book describes the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–17) his third expedition, also known as the Endurance Expedition.

Endurance became beset in the ice of the Weddell Sea before reaching Vahsel Bay held in the pack ice throughout the Antarctic winter of 1915.
Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage is the story of a great quest on the part of some very adventuresome men, commanded by a man who acted in a manner that was very much against the grain of British leadership for his time & place and showed amazing strength of character & resilience.

Beyond that however, the book represents a labor of love on the part of the author, someone who engendered a literary quest to master as many of the details as possible about Ernest Shackleto
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage is a heartfelt story that is deeply touching, and rewards the reader with a true story of survival against all odds, and the strength of the human spirit!

Alfred Lansing's book about the incredible misadventure of the explorer ship, The Endurance, is nothing short of a masterpiece! This thrilling account of one of the most astonishing feats of exploration and human courage ever seen, and to top it off, its' 100% based on real events. The author, Alfred L
Aug 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I rarely re-read books, but this was such a gripping, true-life adventure, and well told, that I have read it three times in the last fifteen years. I think it is due for another re-read! It blows my mind to think of what these men went through and how they survived being stuck in Antarctica for years. The way they engineer their own rescue is hardly to be believed. What adds to the appeal of the book is the wonderful color throughout - details of how the men made life bearable during this unbea ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A major book retailer used to list this book as Number One among "Winter Sports." That was a mistake, because this amazing, grueling and true account of men against the elements is anything but *sportif*. ENDURANCE recounts, instead, the sufferings of a crew of British sailors who set out in 1914 to be the first to traverse the Antarctic continent, but whose ship became marooned in ice, forcing them to find an alternate route back to civilization over difficult ice and dangerous water, bit by ag ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best novels based on a true story that talks about "Endurance" in harsh situations. I have never enjoyed an audiobook like this. Thrilling and exciting!! I recommend this audiobook too because the narrator work was superb.

There are moments in the book that it makes you feel anguish, however, that anguish is totally related to the situation of the journeymen. It is now one of my favorites.
If someone pitched a book idea to a publisher about a bunch of guys stranded in the Arctic, who’s boat is destroyed by ice, who get hunted and in turn hunt sea lions, and who save the day by –no joke- sledding down a mountain to avoid freezing to death and manage to save their whole crew of shipwrecked mates, you would be laughed at. It’s too ludicrous. Too unbelievable.


Look if you want to learn how to be a good manager, a good adventurist, a good person- then you need
May 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
Part ripping yarn, part social psychology experiment, part metaphor for graduate school -- this is the most IN-CREDIBLE book that I've ever read.

It is insaaaaaannnneeeeee!!!!

But even though the whole time you are reading it, you are thinking to yourself -- #$(*&@$%(*waaahhh!!! -- the writing is remarkably restrained and pithy, putting you right in the moment without distracting you from what's going on. You'd almost think you were reading Updike, except the people in the story are real, and the
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An American journalist who wrote for Collier's, among other magazines and was later an editor for Time, Inc. Books.

Alfred Lansing served in the US Navy from 1940-46. He received the Purple Heart for his wartime service.

Later he attended North Park College, 1946-48, Northwestern University, 1948-50.

Lansing became a member of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England in 1957.

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