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The White Darkness

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,132 ratings  ·  524 reviews
Henry Worsley was a devoted husband and father and a decorated British special forces officer who believed in honor and sacrifice. He was also a man obsessed. He spent his life idolizing Ernest Shackleton, the nineteenth-century polar explorer, who tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole, and later sought to cross Antarctica on foot. Shackleton never compl ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Doubleday Books
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Mike Adams In short, yes it is. The book does contain a few photos that do not appear in the New Yorker piece.

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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  3,132 ratings  ·  524 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 I have such a fascination with books set in places that are excessively cold and snow laden. Not sure why that is, especially since I don't really want to live in these places, and due to health reasons will probably never even get to visit. I also find intriguing people who do dangerous and near impossible things. I try to figure out the mindset of people who feel compelled to take these risks. I'm not very adventurous, was more so when I was younger, but not to some extreme extent.

Worsley,
...more
Candi
"The man felt like a speck in the frozen nothingness. Every direction he turned, he could see ice stretching to the edge of the Earth: white ice and blue ice, glacial-ice tongues and ice wedges. There were no living creatures in sight. Not a bear or even a bird. Nothing but him."

The last book I reviewed was set in the lush and exotic landscape of Corfu. Corfu and all of Greece are on my bucket list of places to visit once I have time I can call my own. What is not on my bucket list: Antarctica!
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
”For scientific leadership, give me Scott; for swift and efficient travel, Amundsen; but when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems to be no way out, get on your knees and pray for Shackleton.”

 photo Endurance_zps4kvzj1f2.jpg
Every time I see this photograph of Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, frozen in the ice, I get a chill.

One of the most selfless acts in the history of exploration happened in 1908 when Ernest Shackleton made the decision to turn back from his goal of reaching the South Pole, a mere 97 nauti
...more
Jenna
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For the life of me, I will never understand those people who are inclined to attempt what's never been done before, even if it means putting their lives in danger. Well, I could understand if it was something fun. But something like trekking 1,000+ miles across the brutal continent of Antarctica alone?? Hell, no! I'll stay home, indoors, sipping my tea or coffee and reading a good book, thank you very much.

Not everyone is like me though, and there are those intrepid explorers who are compelled
...more
J.K. Grice
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THE WHITE DARKNESS is another absolute winner from author David Grann. The photos in this book are fabulous, and really add to the richness and history of Antarctica exploration. British special forces soldier Henry Worsley was much like a modern day Ernest Shackleton, who also happened to be his personal hero. Once again, David Grann educates, entertains, and inspires through his compelling factual story writing. THE WHITE DARKNESS is a modern day adventure not to be missed.
Diane
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
"What is Antarctica other than a blank canvas on which you can seek to impose yourself?"

This is another incredible nonfiction work by David Grann. I loved his previous book "Killers of the Flower Moon" so much that I will read anything by him. So far, every Grann book I've read has been well worth my time.

"The White Darkness" is the true story of Henry Worlsey, a British officer who became obsessed with Antarctica. This book covers two of Worsleys treks to the South Pole, one in 2008 and another
...more
Libby
4.5 stars rounded up. This would have been an excellent book to read on January 1, reminding myself to pull up my bootstraps, bombard the castle, jump into oblivion, and just generally get on with something that requires intense focus and dedication. David Grann brings the reader a modern-day hero, Henry Worsley, a man who has just that kind of focus. Indeed, he carries his focus on an expedition to Antarctica to the point of obsession, as many great people do.

This is a short book at 160 pages,
...more
David Schaafsma
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I saw this book at my library and picked it up because I had read Grann's amazing Killers of the Flower Moon, and so I knew I wanted to read it. It’s short, adapted from a New Yorker article he had published in February 2018. I don’t read much non-fiction, but I occasionally do read stories like this about extraordinary feats of physical prowess that most people just think of as insane risk-taking behavior: Into the Wild, Touching the Void, Into Thin Air.

This is one of these books, where a toug
...more
Tucker
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Nancy
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
My obsession with Antarctic explorers began when I was eleven and read The Great White South by Herbert Ponting, the photographer on the 1911 Scott expedition. As a girl, I held a heroic idealization of Scott and his men freezing in their hut. It seemed all so heroic, then. Later readings lowered Scott in my estimation.

Henry Worsley idolized Ernest Shackleton for his courage and leadership. Although Shackleton was never able to complete his expeditions, he did save his men's lives. And Worsley'
...more
Karen R
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A riveting true story of Henry Worsley, a born leader and man obsessed with exploring the challenging, breathtakingly beautiful terrain of Antarctica, following in the footsteps of his idol Ernest Shackleton.

I immediately became immersed in this remarkable story. Worsley’s notes and recorded telecommunications of his exploration are pieced together expertly by David Grann, never dragging with details. Photos are included in all the right places.

Worsley’s first exploration leading a courageous
...more
Krista
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I reckon I lost about three miles' distance today from snaking around, head permanently bowed to read the compass, just my shuffling skis to look at for nine hours. Anyway, I'm back on track and now happy I can part a straight line, even through another day of the white darkness.

~ Radio broadcast by Henry Worsley, two weeks into a solo transantarctic crossing

Author David Grann is known for spinning fascinating narrative nonfiction (as with Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z), and
...more
Steve
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An unusual, but very nicely done, little book ... arguably a must read for Shackleton/Endurance aficionados ... or folks who enjoy epic quest (which sometimes becomes disaster) literature, stories, and biographies.

I saw this on the new book shelf in my public library, and, to the extent I had been completely enamored (and equally horrified) by Grann's incredibly informative Killers of the Flower Moon, which I strongly recommend, I picked it up ... and when I saw that it (basically) chronicled a
...more
Faith
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
Nothing about Ernest Shackleton's story would make me want to replicate his expedition crossing Antarctica, but Henry Worsley wanted to do just that, but alone. He wasn't deterred by the fact that Shackleton's journey was an epic failure. I guess "adventurer" is just another word for "idiot". I suggest reading one of the books about Shackleton rather than this one, unless you just want to read a book about suffering in the cold. Both Shackleton himself and his trek were more interesting than any ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars

There is not a thing that I have read by this author that I did not like. Grann tells it like it is, leaving you to decide whether you like the story or not. But always non-fiction and compelling. He is diverse in his projects, from the Amazon to Kitty Hawk to the Osage Indian tribe, his knowledge is vast. Now in the Antarctic he gives us a heartbreaking tale of one man's lifetime dream.

This short book not only tells us the dreams of Henry Worley, but also details the exploits of Worl
...more
L.A. Starks
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This gem of a book details the Antarctic expeditions of Harry Worsley, who modeled himself on the leadership of explorer Ernest Shackleton. While the book is small at 146 pages, it is perfect as a gift for inspiration and/or admiration.
Christine
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

You might not recognize Henry Worsley’s name, but you mostly likely have heard the story. At the end of 2015-the beginning of 2016, he attempted to cross Antarctica alone, but sicken, was airlifted, and, sadly, died while doctors while trying to save his life. His quest, done in part as a fundraiser, was followed by the media and classrooms. He received support from the royal family. If you are like me, you were impressed by the drive and the attempt, but also wonde
...more
Julie
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A moving account of the expeditions of a true hero, a man of integrity with an extraordinary spirit. I listened spellbound. Sublime narration by one of my favorites, Will Patton.
2/28/19: The hardcover book came in on hold for me at the Library yesterday and added another dimension to my reading experience through the many lovely photographs.
Jeanette
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
The photographs are 5 star. The obsession portrayed and explained is near to a 5.

It's brief and to the point. Rather like the majority of lives described in Antarctica exploration done in this hiking/ pulling manner. Henry Wolsey's idealizations and the performances to obtain the goals he reached and those he attempted- they are worth the read.

Of such adventurous giants the unknown has become known.

But honestly, there truly is a core of self-abnegation or some such quality that pivots on this ki
...more
Onceinabluemoon
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The day before I read the book dry, this book was the contrast I was seeking. Knowing nothing of the outcome I was awestruck by his endeavors, but the mood shifted and I prayed the tonal difference I felt was wrong... alas, tears were dripping down my cheeks at the close. I am truly awestruck at man's endeavors, it was humbling to read in the comfort of my warm cozy bed. Loved the photos, you could feel the sting and exhaustion every step of the way. An incredible lifetime of journeys unfathomab ...more
Cheryl
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Henry Worsley was a British special forces officer who was obsessed with the Antarctic expeditions of Ernest Shackleton. From childhood, Henry had read everything he could find about Shackleton and his expeditions. And then he learned that he was a descendant of one of Shackleton’s crew.

As an adult, Henry Worsley’s interest in Shackleton grew stronger and he began to collect artifacts from Shackleton and his expeditions. His wife and children encouraged his interest. In 2008, Henry Worsley, alo
...more
Rod Brown
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-real-books
A modern-day man's attempt to cross Antarctica on a solo expedition is fluffed out with an overview of polar exploration in the early 1900s and lots and lots and lots of pictures in this short compilation of a couple magazine articles. More hagiography than biography or history, it lacks depth, but is good for what it is.
Paul
The line between focus and obsession is very thin. Henry Worsley was one of those who crossed backwards and forwards over the line. He was a devoted husband and father and when serving in the special forces, was decorated for bravery. One Worsley‘sobsessions though was Ernest Shackleton. This explorer tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole and even attempted to cross the frozen continent on foot. Sadly he never succeeded in these adventures, but his leadership skills meant that ...more
Lou
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Within the pages of The White Darkness you will find a true narrative of Henry Worsley, a man in possession of grit, fortitude, and never giving up.
All clearly layered out by a writer that does these tellings of lives, complexities, and struggles, so well.
He defines Henry Worsley’s great character up against the Antartica, the white darkness a test of it and his life.
“As is true of many adventurers, he seemed to be on an inward quest as much as an outward one—the journey was a way to subject him
...more
Jim
Some people simply become obsessed with endeavors that are nearly impossible, and give up everything to attempt them. Like climbing Everest or sailing alone around the world. In this case a man obsessed with Shackleton and Antarctica decides he will attempt a solo transverse across the frozen continent. I admire these folks while thinking they are crazy at the same time. These stories attract me like sweets, and seemingly the more daring and difficult the trip the more I love it, especially if t ...more
Richard  Thomas
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very informative. Nice mix of setting, sensory details, humanity, and drive. Doing research for my next arctic novel, and it gave me a lot of excellent images. Well done.
Lorraine
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Couldn’t put the book down, finished it on one sitting. Henry Worsley will go down in history as one of the world’s all time great polar explorers. The documentation of his polar exploration is riveting and the photography is breathtaking.
Heather Fineisen
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story about Henry Worsley and his quest to follow Shackleton' s footsteps to the Antarctica covers two expeditions, the second solo. Biographical information is solid and you want Worsley to succeed. Those interested in Shackleton will be intrigued.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
Karel Baloun
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perfect 1-2 hour tribute to Antarctic exploration, with impressive photos and powerful quotations and testimonies. To be read in order, no skipping.

I especially liked how readers are entreated to explore the heart and values of these adventurers.
Brent
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all readers of all ages
Recommended to Brent by: this fine author and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
What a wonderful little book, expanding a New Yorker profile with fine photographs.
Highly recommended.
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David Grann has written about everything from New York City’s antiquated water tunnels to the hunt for the giant squid to the presidential campaign. His stories have appeared in several anthologies, including What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001; The Best American Crime Writing, of both 2004 and 2005; and The Best American Sports Writing, of 2003 and 2006. A 2004 finalist for the Michael ...more

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“Every time Worsley made an offer, a person bidding anonymously over the telephone countered him and finally made off with the prize, at a price of seven thousand dollars. Weeks later, on his tenth wedding anniversary, Joanna gave him a present: the inscribed book. Each had been unaware that the other was the rival bidder.” 0 likes
“An entire subgenre of self-help literature devoted to analyzing his methods emerged, books with titles like Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition. Another example, Shackleton: Leadership Lessons from Antarctica, included such chapters as “Be My Tent Mate: Keep Dissidents Close,” “Camaraderie at 20 Below Zero: Creating an Optimal Work Environment,” and “Sailing Uncharted Waters: Adapt and Innovate.” 0 likes
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