Shackleton

by Ranulph Fiennes

An author­i­ta­tive biog­ra­phy of Sir Ernest Shack­le­ton from polar adven­tur­er Ran­ulph Fiennes. In 1915, Sir Ernest Shack­le­ton’s attempt to tra­verse the Antarc­tic was cut short when his ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. The dis­as­ter left Shack­le­ton and his men alone at the frozen South Pole, fight­ing for their lives. Their sur­vival and escape is the most famous adven­ture in his­to­ry. Shack­le­ton is an engag­ing new account of the adven­tur­er, his life and his incred­i­ble lead­er­ship under the most extreme of cir­cum­stances. Writ­ten by polar adven­tur­er Sir Ran­ulph Fiennes who fol­lowed in Shack­le­ton’s foot­steps, he brings his own unique insights to bear on these infa­mous expe­di­tions. Shack­le­ton is both re-appraisal and a vale­dic­tion, sep­a­rat­ing the man from the myth he has become.

Published by Penguin Random House UKin 2021

ISBN: 9780241356722

I rated this 4 stars out of 5

Yet anoth­er biog­ra­phy of Sir Ernest, this time writ­ten by a bloke who’s walked in his foot­steps. This lends a sound cred­i­bil­i­ty to the analy­ses of the good, bad and (some­times) ugly deci­sions made by these wild Edwar­dian adven­tur­ers who were at the absolute pio­neer­ing stage of polar explo­ration. Fiennes’ admi­ra­tion for his hero in Shack­le­ton is obvi­ous, but he does­n’t fawn over him, dis­cussing both the man’s faults and his hero­ics and very apt­ly explain­ing the colo­nial envi­ron­ment at the time.

In an age of can­cel cul­ture, it’s refresh­ing to see a man pre­sent­ed as both an admirable hero — forg­ing a path for human dis­cov­ery in the face of incred­i­ble odds — and a trag­ic fig­ure — wom­an­is­ing, unre­li­able with mon­ey, and seen as a fail­ure in his time — with­out demand­ing the read­er choose one or the oth­er. Humans are com­plex. Shack­le­ton was very human, but achieved super­hu­man feats.

A very nice read.

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