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South: The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition 1914-1917

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  8,665 ratings  ·  514 reviews
In 1914, as the shadow of war falls across Europe, a party led by veteran explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sets out to become the first to traverse the Antarctic continent. Their initial optimism is short-lived, however, as the ice field slowly thickens, encasing the ship Endurance in a death-grip, crushing their craft, and marooning 28 men on a polar ice floe.

In an epic str
Paperback, 374 pages
Published November 1999 by Penguin Books
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E. G.

--South: The Endurance Expedition

Appendix I:
Scientific Work
Sea-Ice Nomenclature
South Atlantic Whales and Whaling

Appendix II:
The Expedition Huts at McMurdo Sound

First it was cold. And then it got really cold. And we're hungry. And it' cold and we're hungry. And phewy, it's really freaking cold. We don't have a whole lot to eat, either. Brrrrrrrrrrrr. Ice. Seals. Cold. Es muy frio. Teeth chattering. Chewing on blubber. Blubber fires. Shivering. Need more food. Did I mention it's cold? Seriously, I'm really cold. Frostbite. Shoulda worn another sweater. Shoulda brought an extra pair of gloves. Shoulda brought some extra cans of Pringles. I could really go ...more
I doubt there could be a more real life example of the ‘What would you take to a desert island?’ than Shackleton’s trip to the Antarctic. There is an exhibition of the photographs of that trip on at the RGS in London at the moment. One of the photos shows a wall of books, his floating library. The RGS has been able to digitally enhance it, so that we now know exactly what Shackleton took on this unhappy expedition.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

Magazine correctly judged by cover (from The Onion) photo Onion_zpsctyjeti4.jpg
Magazine correctly judged by cover (from The On
This is an astonishing story of courage, determination, leadership and survival. It's amazing such a story as this is true, but the book gets quite boring in parts. ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
South... by Ernest Shackleton was published in 1919, long before Lansing’s book Endurance, which was published in 1959. Both books are very similar and tell for the most part the same story, however Lansings delivery is superior, however it was with great interest that I went from Endurance to South; and have no problem with the week I dedicated to Shackelton’s memoir.

“When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snowfields, but across the stor
Annie Smidt
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Despite sitting here in October whining to myself about my cold fingers while typing, I have to admit I've got kind of a thing for grueling polar expeditions and the occasional 19th century disastrous sea voyage. I especially have a thing for Mr. Shackleton, the great heroic failure of the Edwardian era. (Not my words, but I don't recall who said them — someone on NPR, I expect).

This book is the detailed accounts of Shackleton's last Antarctic journey. He takes a crew on the Endurance to the Wed
Mark Mortensen
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, nature, science
Prior to reading Sir Ernest Shakelton’s harrowing voyage aboard the Endurance I knew few facts other than he obviously survived to pen his memoir.

The expedition to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent from sea to sea over roughly 1,800 miles by way of the South Pole. Planning for the mission began in 1913 and when World War I erupted the scientific voyage was not canceled. It’s historic that on August 4, 1914 King George V kept his appointment to meet with Shakelton and give him the Uni
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this casually, a little at a time. It's one of the great adventure stories of all time, and smashing stuff (get it?)'s how it works: it's based on the journals of Shackleton and everyone else in his party - he gives others lots of time too - and the entries can be a little repetitious. Like, y'know, "Still stuck on an iceberg. Cold and hungry."

Shackleton's a surprisingly good writer, though. Clear, engaging and often funny. That livens up the doldrum periods - but also, the ef
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Extremely interesting and riveting in places even knowing how it all turned out.

Available at:
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Back when men were men. At the outbreak of WWI Shackleton had outfitted two ships and crews to try a continental crossing of the Antarctic. He offered to halt the expedition but was ordered to continue by Winston Churchill. Famously, the crossing never took place. What did happen was an increasingly desperate fight to survive by the two ship's crews on opposite sides of the polar continent.

The book is largely made up of extracts from Shackleton's own diary and the diaries of some of the other ex
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Endurance last month, I so appreciated Mallory's recommendation to follow up with Shackleton's own account! I'm glad I read them in this order, as the former read more as a novel, giving a better description of the cast of characters and was organized in a more dramatic fashion. Shackleton, on the other hand, preferred to give away the ending! This first hand account was absolutely enchanting. His descriptions of the phenomena and experiences in the Antarctic were vivid, and the pers ...more
Andrew Ziegler
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a really hard time getting into the "floe" of this book. See what I did there? No, seriously, Shackleton's writing is very clinical and matter of fact. Recording every day, watching the ice, food stores, lat and long, temperature...etc...for what seems like an eternity. With no drama or embellishment, which as an avid reader, I love. However, this book at its start was dry. That is the truth. You know what else is the truth? This story. All of it. 100% fact. You can know that going in, and ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love reading about Polar explores and this book just blew me away. This book was Ernest Shackelton’s journal of the Endurance Expidition and his participation of trying to save the crew of another boat called the Aurora.

Some of the stand out members of the expedition were Named Wild and Creen.

This was one of those books that I wanted to finish in one sitting. But work got in the way.

I could keep going on about how great this book is, but you must experience it for yourself.
Marianna the Booklover
This is indeed an extraordinary story - of bravery, determination, camaraderie and, well, endurance. But I have to say I also had some less optimistic thoughts while reading this account (the second part, about Aurora, was a bit tedious for me, hence the final rating). It just occurred to me that even though it is amazing what humans are capable of, it's also scary. Our need to explore, to know everything, to leave no stone unturned, is both exciting and destructive. At some point Shackleton not ...more
Stacy Lorence
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
"Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all." -Ernest Shackleton ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The story of Sir Ernest Shackleton C V OSir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition (1914–1917) is still considered one of the single most dramatic, thrilling, and exhausting adventures during the so-called Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

In “South!”, Shackleton tells the whole story in his own words.

The goal of the expedition was to perform the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. But when Shackleton’s ship, The Endurance, became locked in ice – and subsequently w
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Quite simply awesome. And I don't use the word lightly, considering it is very much an overused word. Ernest Shackleton was a hero not only because of what he endured, but because of how he led. As opposed to Robert Scott who made a series of errors (as well as experiencing some genuine bad luck with inclement weather) culminating in disaster in 1912, Shackleton's primary concern above all aspects of his mission were the men under his command. In 1908 - on his earlier 'farthest south' expedition ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Polar exploration never interested me when I was younger. I had a settler’s heart, probably from playing too much Age of Empires. By all means tell me about the Vikings in Vinland, or the Maori in New Zealand, or the discovery of tropical islands… but why would anybody want to explore a frozen wasteland? What joy could there be in cresting a ridge only to see more inhospitable ice, rather than a green and pleasant land?

In the same way that – as an adult with an appreciation of my own mortality a
Pete daPixie
Most certainly, as exploration adventure survival stories go, Shackleton's 'South' has to be in the premier league. My copy in the Penquin Classics series, (which contains those excellent black and white photographs of Frank Hurley's), originally published from Shackleton's memoirs/logs from the Endurance expedition in 1919.
If ever a ship was more aptly named! Of course, this epic tale has been re-told in other books and on film. Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition was to be a Trans-Antarcti
Beth A.
This book was very slow paced and detailed, and took me a long time to read, especially the first third. The story was amazing, but I can’t decide if they were amazingly brave and perseverant, or just a bit stupid. Not their survival, but putting themselves at such risk in the first place. When they ended up stranded, no one seemed remotely surprised.

The person who recommended this book to me mentioned looking at leadership traits, so I was thinking about that as I read this book.

Team building:
Aug 31, 2013 rated it liked it
If you're familiar with Shackleton's story, you likely want to read this just for the sake of completion. Just know that it's not going to be the page-turner you would have hoped for. For anyone unfamiliar with Shackleton's story and curious to learn more, I'd recommend you start with another source.

The subject matter is fascinating yet Shackleton's writing lacks emotion. He was obviously writing this for his contemporaries to prove that his expedition had not been a complete failure. He rightly
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Read this one while you're hating how freaking cold out it is!! It's been a while since I read this, but if I remember correctly, it's all taken from the journals of the men on the expedition. There's a lot of stuff about lattitude and longitude, and 5000 different ways to describe cold and snow and ice! You may find that you want to skim over some of the more "scientific" stuff and just get to the good parts! You know: the frostbite, and the starvation, and the penguin poo! This book will make ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I had a bad attack of snow-blindness and had to use cocaine. Hayward also had a bad time. I was laid up and had to keep my eyes bandaged for three days." They don't make adventurers like this anymore. It was epic stuff all the way. Shackleton, if anything, played down how hard it was. As someone who has tried to sleep in a soaking wet sleeping bag, I am awestruck how they survived that in Antartic conditions. A great read.

Ross Borkett
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
What an incredible story!! The ability to survive in such an environment is quite incredible, esp considering this was over 100 years ago now. Written by Shackleton himself you can tell he is an explorer (this won’t win any writing awards) but is fairly accessible and easy to follow. And there are parts that are so incredible you just want to get to the end of the chapter. And it’s free on kindle.
Michael Adamchuk
I read the great memoir during the height of winter, how appropriate. It is a great story about survival and management, yes, management. Sir Ernest was a master at it and it's the main reason for the high survival rate during this horrific expedition. ...more
David Greene
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
"For knowledge and erudition, give me Scott. For expeditionary and exploration prowess, take Peary. But if disaster strikes, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton!" ...more
Paul Weiss
The expedition’s goal was to be the first to cross the southern continent.

Instead, Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, encountered early sea ice and was crushed, marooning him and his crew to face a two year long litany of hardships they could hardly imagine – a 600 mile voyage across shifting ice floes from the Antarctic to Elephant Island; an 850 mile trip across the storm ravaged south Atlantic to South Georgia Island in an open boat a mere twenty-two feet long finishing with a twenty mile hike
Coming into this book, I'd decided I wanted to read a "happier" tale of polar expeditions - no human died on the Endurance side of this trip. At the end of this book, I learned once again that it was blind luck that nobody died.

Shackleton was unbelievably lucky that the Endurance sank as slowly as it did, considering all the trips back that the crew was able to make to get flour and other necessities. I don't know whether they should have tried harder to sledge across the ice floes - after Georg
Andrew Armson-Smith
A fascinating read. A great level of detailed has been paid, painting a picture of every step of this expedition and the dire turn it took right from the start. A true telling of a dedicated team of comrades fighting for survival in a frozen wasteland, hidden moments of wonder and demonstrating the sacrfice and adaptability humans are capable of.
Bryan Falk
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating read about Shackleton's attempt to cross the Antarctic by land. Surprisingly humorous at points, an excellent good read about human endurance in the face of overwhelming adversity. ...more
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Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE was an Anglo-Irish merchant naval officer who made his reputation as an explorer during what is known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, a period of discovery characterised by journeys of geographical and scientific exploration in a largely unknown continent, without any of the benefits of modern travel methods or radio communication.

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“When I look back at those days I have no doubt that Providence guided us, not only across those snowfields, but across the storm-white sea that separated Elephant Island from our landing-place on South Georgia. I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia it seemed to me often that we were four, not three. I said nothing to my companions on the point, but afterwards Worsley said to me, ‘Boss, I had a curious feeling on the march that there was another person with us.’ Crean confessed to the same idea. One feels ‘the dearth of human words, the roughness of mortal speech’ in trying to describe things intangible, but a record of our journeys would be incomplete without a reference to a subject very near to our hearts.” 10 likes
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