I’ve just revisited perhaps the most incredible and inspirational true story I’ve ever read. The book is called The Endurance; Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, by Caroline Alexander, and details Ernest Shackleton’s unbelievable ordeal trapped in Antarctic ice with 27 other men from 1914-1916.
After 17 months locked in the ice incommunicado with the rest of the world, and with their ship ultimately crushed by the ice and sunk, Shackelton’s men journeyed over ice and water in open boats to a barren Antarctic island, following which he and five others sailed a modified lifeboat 800 miles across the notoriously treacherous South Atlantic in dead of winter to a remote whaling station for help.
The text is masterfully composited from diaries of the men onboard, and not only is the story gripping (all 28 men survived!) but the book is profusely illustrated with superb but haunting photographs shot by the expedition photographer — the glass plates were rescued from the sinking ship and soldered into tin containers to be carried along on the long journey to rescue! This is why I’m a non-fiction fan — no one could possibly write a novel more breathtaking or suspenseful than this — and amazingly, it’s all true! ©2009 Gregory N. Brown