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David Grann, the best-selling author of The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon, presents a modern epic of Victorian-era heroism. Henry Worsley, a British army officer and happily married father of two, embraced his obsession with Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton and succeeded in crossing the massive continent on foot – with two team members – unaided. They became the first men to walk across Antarctica. Later, Worsley returned to attempt a similar trek solo and failed. He died in the aftermath, but Grann presents his life as a heroic saga of human endurance.

Antarctica is larger than Europe; it has the most extreme weather and the lowest temperatures on Earth.

Grann sets the scene of this heroic account by familiarizing the reader with the vastness of Antarctica. He writes that Antarctica covers nearly 5.5 million square miles; it’s bigger than all of Europe. It becomes almost two times larger in winter because the waters along its coast freeze solid. Ice covers 98% of the continent. The ice is deep, sometimes as deep as 15,000 feet, and it holds 70% of the planet’s fresh water and 90% of its ice.

Because Antarctica gets the least precipitation of any continent, it is classified as a desert. It’s also is the highest continent. Antarctica’s elevation averages 7,500 feet. No continent is windier; winds gusts can reach 200 miles per hour. No continent is colder; winter temperatures fall to 75°F below zero [minus 59°C]. By the time you finish reading Grann’s description, you will either want to stay as far away from Antarctica as possible or race to see it.

About the Author

New Yorker staff writer David Grann, author of the bestsellers The Lost City of Z and Killers of the Flower Moon, won the George Polk journalism award and an Edgar award. His other books include The Old Man and the Gun.

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