A well-researched adventure story, Daniel Lovewell
June 28, 2021
I don’t know a lot about Antarctic expeditions, but I am very interested in Antarctica, so I was excited when I got the opportunity to read the book Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story by Joanna Grochowicz.
This is a factual retelling of Ernest Shackleton’s famous expedition, where he hoped to “cross the Antarctic continent from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea.” The text introduces the reader to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and his ship, the Endurance, as well as his crew of 27. The most famous crew members, Frank Wild, Frank Hurley, Alexander Macklin, George Marston, Tom Crean and Frank Worsley, had all been on previous Antarctic missions. Also carrying geologists, physicists, photographers, and scientists, the Endurance leaves Britain for the Antarctic Circle in August 1914. However, in January 1915 the Endurance gets caught in Antarctic ice, and the crew are forced to set up Ocean Camp on the ice. Sadly, on the 27th of October, the Endurance can no longer stand the pressure of the ice holding her and sinks. On the 23rd of December, the crew leave Ocean Camp and six days later they establish Patience Camp… on an iceberg.
But all is not lost: Shackleton and his crew are survivors, and make good use of supplies and also catch fish and penguins to eat. There are lots of trials and tribulations as they work together to do whatever it takes to survive. Sadly, some animals don’t make it, which is quite upsetting, but it is the reality of the situation they faced.
I found it astonishing that anyone could survive so long in such extreme conditions. The length of the journey into the Southern Ocean would have been challenging enough, but to be stranded in ice for nine long months is beyond comprehension, let alone to make camp on an iceberg. I did not expect the crew to survive in this extreme adventure. But the title said it was a survival story, and in the end, I was not disappointed, because, after three months of living on a floating iceberg, the crew spots land. Five months later, they are all rescued.
There were some things I thought this book did very well. For example, the crew were listed at the beginning of the book, along with caricatures of each of them. Also, there is a timeline of key dates. I found this really helpful as I often wanted to check the dates, as it just seemed so long in-between times, it was difficult to believe. There were also maps, and photographs to give a really helpful reference and remind you that this really happened. It made me wonder if people today would be able to survive as well, for as long, if they ended up in the same situation.
I am very impressed with the amount of research the author must have done to get the information to tell this true story. She read through the men’s diaries and talked to polar experts and historians and then imagined the crew back into life. I had read a previous book written by Joanna Grochowicz – Into The White – that was also really well written.
Shackleton’s Endurance is a very good read with a lot of interesting facts, and it is also quite exciting. I would recommend this book to age groups around 12 – 14 years old. There are almost no bad points about the book. In fact, I liked it enough that when I finished reading it, I just went back to the beginning and started again. And now I have reserved Amundsen’s Way from the library, as it seems only right to read all three books from this talented New Zealand author.
- Daniel Lovewell is 12 years old and lives in Masterton.