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Book Review: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Written by Kayla Pugh on

I picked up Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing in January because reading a survival story in Antarctica during winter just seemed fitting. Plus, the book’s cover depicting the ominous, abandoned vessel surrounded by ice and snow intrigued me. I went in expecting a survival story–which it most certainly is–but what I was left with was a deep sense of admiration and inspiration. This saga of survival showcases what the human spirit is capable of amid extraordinary challenges.

This true account tells the tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew and their harrowing journey aboard the ship Endurance, which became trapped in the ice of the Antarctic in 1914. The opening chapter gripped me as the fate of the ship was taking shape in my mind. I was instantly captivated despite knowing nothing about arctic exploration. The book offers a vivid portrayal of the resilience, courage, and resourcefulness of the twenty-eight men who faced unimaginable challenges in the most unforgiving environment on earth.

What I found remarkable was the way Lansing provided a comprehensive account of the events leading up to the expedition, while still grounding the narrative to the lives of the crew members. Gaining insight from the men’s diary entries, you get to know many of the men aboard, the events that ended with abandoning ship, and their daily musings about life on a frozen sea for nearly two years. It was fascinating.

The portrayal of the psychological and emotional toll that the expedition took on the crew was skillfully written. Grappling with fear, uncertainty, and the relentless forces of nature, you see in excruciating detail the trials that the crew endured. I found the examination of the physical and mental fortitude required to endure such an ordeal to be particularly compelling. I found myself wholly invested in the plight of these men, cringing at the extent of their suffering and cheering them on at every leg of their journey.

I was especially mesmerized by the pictures taken of the expedition. From the photos taken by the photographer on crew, you can see their attempts to free the ship from the ice, what their camp looked like, and the real blubber-smoked blackened faces of the men. It made the experience for the reader tactile and gritty.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage is not merely a tale of survival; it is a profound exploration of the indomitable human spirit in the face of adversity.

Admittedly, being stranded at the bottom of the world is not the same as the challenges you or I face today. But I believe that through trials we learn what is truly inside us and are left with no other choice than to deal with what we find. Following these men and the remarkable ways they faced both internal and external challenges was an inspiration and has remained with me long after I finished this book.

Kayla Pugh

Kayla serves College Park as the Soul Care Coordinator using her gifts of organization and efficiency. She is passionate about serving in supporting roles so others can use their God given gifts to the fullest. Kayla enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her husband Jordan and their retired racing greyhound and rescue kitten.

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