The story of Shackelton's legendary third attempt for the South Pole should be read by everyone at least once. (Perhaps Peter Fonda in On Golden Pond might've added this one to his list of essential reading for boys along with Treasure Island.) Using source documents and interviews, Lansing's account, first published in 1959, of is likely one of the best adventure stories ever told.
With hundreds of reviews already, this is, admittedly, overkill. But this one deserves every word of praise.
The immensity of the misadventure that befell the Endurance and her crew is humbling - both for the grandeur of the voyage itself but also for the moral stature and strength of character of the men involved.
Lessons in psychology and leadership abound.
"...there was a remarkable absence of discouragement...nobody paused to think on the terrible consequences of losing their ship...there was even a mild exhilaration in their attitude. At least they had a clear-cut task ahead of them...Now they simply had to get themselves out, however appallingly difficult that might be."
"From studying the outcome of past expeditions, he believed that those that burdened themselves with equipment to meet every contingency had fared much worse than those that had sacrificed total preparedness for speed."
Although the first half consists chiefly of waiting around on ice floes, Lansing's narrative is gripping throughout. (The landscape and pace quickens upon reaching Elephant Island.) But in the end, it's the story itself that stands alone as the genius behind this read.
Pack it along with you on your next trip. Worth its weight in gold. Unless of course you have to ditch it to make room for seal blubber or a frozen penguin.