Review of Endurance

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  • Applicable
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


Alfred Lansing’s absorbing, timeless account of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to Antarctica is a gripping true-adventure tale offering a detailed case study of effective crisis management during a relentless, ongoing emergency. Shackleton and his crew sailed to Antarctica in the ship Endurance with the intention of crossing the continent on foot. But the forces of nature at the edge of the world had other ideas. With their ship crushed in a dense ice pack, Shackleton and 27 men set up camp on an ice floe and, later, on an inhospitable island. Lansing details how Shackleton and a crew of five took one lifeboat on an 850-mile journey through the globe’s most violent seas to reach a remote outpost of civilization, and then returned to rescue those still on the island. Anyone interested in this history of exploration, the Antarctic region or how a great leader stimulates motivation, resourcefulness and teamwork will find Lansing’s account of Shackleton’s saga highly illuminating. 

About the Author

Alfred Lansing (1921–1975) was the editor of a weekly newspaper in Illinois, and later worked for the United Press and Collier’s.


Shackleton’s Greatest Adventure

Journalist Alfred Lansing begins this saga In December 1914, when the ship Endurance set sail from a remote whaling station on an island off the southern tip of Argentina. It headed south toward Antarctica, where famed British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton hoped to lead the first crossing of the Antarctic continent on foot. Lansing reports that Shackleton brought 26 crew members, almost 70 sled dogs, one stowaway and a cat. Even if everything went well, the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition would be an unsparing test of the men’s courage and resourcefulness. Things didn’t go according to plan, and what followed was a nearly two-year adventure in one of the most unforgiving environments in the world. All 28 men survived, Lansing argues, in large part thanks to Shackleton’s leadership: Lansing asserts that Shackleton molded them into a team, and induced them to push past their limits again and again.

The Goal

Shackleton had participated in two Antarctic expeditions, but never reached the South Pole. That honor went to Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who beat Robert F. Scott’s British team in 1912. When Shackleton wrote a fundraising prospectus for his expedition, Lansing notes that he emphasized the national-prestige angle of the journey. Shackleton’s plan was to sail the 144-foot Endurance into the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea. At Vahsel Bay, on the Antarctic coast, he would take a six-man expedition ashore with dogs, sleds, rations, tents and other gear.  

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