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Shackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Tragedy of the Endurance Epic

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This is a dramatic true story of Antarctic tragedy and survival among the heroic group that was to lay supplies across the Great Ross Ice Shelf in preparation for the Endurance expedition. Launched by Shackleton (and led by Captain Aenaes Mackintosh), this courageous crew completed the longest sledge journey in polar history (199 days) and endured near-unimaginable depriva This is a dramatic true story of Antarctic tragedy and survival among the heroic group that was to lay supplies across the Great Ross Ice Shelf in preparation for the Endurance expedition. Launched by Shackleton (and led by Captain Aenaes Mackintosh), this courageous crew completed the longest sledge journey in polar history (199 days) and endured near-unimaginable deprivation. They accomplished most of their mission, laying the way for those who never came. All suffered; some died. Now Australian writer Lennard Bickel honors these forgotten heroes. Largely drawn from the author's interviews with surviving team member Dick Richards, this retelling underscores the capacity of ordinary men for endurance and noble action.


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This is a dramatic true story of Antarctic tragedy and survival among the heroic group that was to lay supplies across the Great Ross Ice Shelf in preparation for the Endurance expedition. Launched by Shackleton (and led by Captain Aenaes Mackintosh), this courageous crew completed the longest sledge journey in polar history (199 days) and endured near-unimaginable depriva This is a dramatic true story of Antarctic tragedy and survival among the heroic group that was to lay supplies across the Great Ross Ice Shelf in preparation for the Endurance expedition. Launched by Shackleton (and led by Captain Aenaes Mackintosh), this courageous crew completed the longest sledge journey in polar history (199 days) and endured near-unimaginable deprivation. They accomplished most of their mission, laying the way for those who never came. All suffered; some died. Now Australian writer Lennard Bickel honors these forgotten heroes. Largely drawn from the author's interviews with surviving team member Dick Richards, this retelling underscores the capacity of ordinary men for endurance and noble action.

30 review for Shackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Tragedy of the Endurance Epic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dagny

    Exciting read! These are not the men who were with Shackleton, but the men who went overland from the opposite side of Antarctica to place supply depots for Shackleton's cross-continent trek. It was a brutal experience. Shackleton himself said: "No more remarkable story of human endeavour has been revealed than the tale of that long march." Exciting read! These are not the men who were with Shackleton, but the men who went overland from the opposite side of Antarctica to place supply depots for Shackleton's cross-continent trek. It was a brutal experience. Shackleton himself said: "No more remarkable story of human endeavour has been revealed than the tale of that long march."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Will Ansbacher

    What if I said a party of explorers was stranded in the Antarctic after their ship was blown out to sea with virtually all of their supplies on board, before it could be unloaded? And what if the purpose of the expedition was to lay supply depots across nearly 1000 miles of frozen wasteland - a job that would take two years – depots not for themselves, but for the survival of another group who would be depending on those supplies as they made the first crossing of the continent, starting from th What if I said a party of explorers was stranded in the Antarctic after their ship was blown out to sea with virtually all of their supplies on board, before it could be unloaded? And what if the purpose of the expedition was to lay supply depots across nearly 1000 miles of frozen wasteland - a job that would take two years – depots not for themselves, but for the survival of another group who would be depending on those supplies as they made the first crossing of the continent, starting from the other side? What if they were faced with not just scrounging food but cobbling together equipment - including stoves, clothes and sleeping bags - from the leftovers of earlier expeditions? With just a couple of dog teams to help haul the colossal loads, but also hauling the sledges themselves; wearing pants sewn with found needles, using canvas from a discarded tent? And what if I told you they actually succeeded? You would say, nah, only in a novel; that could never happen! But it was all true. In the end, the depots were never used, as Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic party never started out of course (another incredible tale), though the “forgotten men” didn’t learn that until they were rescued. This is a well-told tale, detailed but not excessively so. It’s fascinating because much of it was based on the diaries and recollections of the last surviving member of the party. It’s true though - after a few Antarctic travel books they do start to sound the same: this is another story about that particular Imperial British kind of astonishing bravery and stoicism, where actually learning from other cultures such as the Inuit or Norwegians - being proficient at ski-ing, dog-handling and so on - was regarded as not quite sporting.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    Exciting read. But how did I leave it sitting on my shelf half-read for so long? Sometimes I felt like yelling at some of the people in the book - how can you be so stupid? But it was very good. Even if their mission was futile. They were setting up stores/depots where Shackelton and his men would be able to get food after crossing the Antarctic continent.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Isaac

    Maybe it's because I read this immediately after Lansing's "Endurance" (which is a beautifully written epic), but I felt that the authorship could have been much better. AMAZING story, though. Holy cow. Maybe it's because I read this immediately after Lansing's "Endurance" (which is a beautifully written epic), but I felt that the authorship could have been much better. AMAZING story, though. Holy cow.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Raghu

    The Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackeleton, in 1915 planned the ultimate remaining Antarctic adventure (after the south pole was 'conquered' by the Norwegians) - that of crossing the Antarctic continent on foot from the Weddel sea across the south pole to the Ross Sea on the other side of the Earth. Caroline Alexander's rivetting book titled 'Endurance' narrates the adventurous story of the Weddel sea side of the expedition. It details the disastrous results of the ship going under the Weddel s The Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackeleton, in 1915 planned the ultimate remaining Antarctic adventure (after the south pole was 'conquered' by the Norwegians) - that of crossing the Antarctic continent on foot from the Weddel sea across the south pole to the Ross Sea on the other side of the Earth. Caroline Alexander's rivetting book titled 'Endurance' narrates the adventurous story of the Weddel sea side of the expedition. It details the disastrous results of the ship going under the Weddel sea and then how Shackeleton and his men heroically survive and return to civilization after an epic adventure in a 22-foot boat on the roughest oceans of the Earth. But there haven't been many books on the courageous efforts of the many men who laid food and other provisions in depots for a thousand miles under punishing weather conditions at the other side of the Antarctic on the Ross sea. These men, completely unaware of the disaster that struck Shackeleton and not knowing that their efforts are totally useless, went about their herculean efforts to make the adventure of Shackeleton's party succeed after they crossed over from the south pole towards the Beardmore glacier and then on towards the Ross sea. This book narrates the story of these 'forgotten men' in great detail. It makes the story of Shackeleton's 1915 trans-Antarctic story complete. Though Shackeleton succeeds in saving the lives of all his men on his side of the expedition, three adventurers die on the Ross sea side of the expedition. One dies during the punishing sledging trips while two others die while crossing the sea ice, even though the author writes that their death was due to carelessness. Shackeleton himself has paid tribute to these men in his book on the subject called 'South'. The author Bickel develops the characters, ranging from the cautious Ernest Joyce to the group's fiery captain, Aeneas Mackintosh, quite well.The author writes of the men as, "haggard, dirty men, faces black from weeks of hugging the blubber stove, beards matted, here and there the scars of recent frostbite, and their clothes reeking of the smelly fat of the seals that had saved their lives."! It is a fitting description of the men who braved hundreds of miles of unforgiving, stormy ice sheets for many months in doing their duty for their expedition's success. It is poignant reading as we know fully well before we start that their efforts are doomed. A good book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Garnet

    As a fan of survival stories, and having read a couple of Shackleton books in the past, this story of a relatively unknown episode of Shackleton's exploration, was enthralling. A group of men and dogs have the gruelling and ultimately tragic task of laying down stores of food and supplies for Shackleton's group attempting the south pole from another direction in 1914. As we all know, Shackleton won't make it. This courageous group presses on with their task having minimal provisions and wind up As a fan of survival stories, and having read a couple of Shackleton books in the past, this story of a relatively unknown episode of Shackleton's exploration, was enthralling. A group of men and dogs have the gruelling and ultimately tragic task of laying down stores of food and supplies for Shackleton's group attempting the south pole from another direction in 1914. As we all know, Shackleton won't make it. This courageous group presses on with their task having minimal provisions and wind up possibly facing the same fate as Shackleton when their own ship goes missing. I found that some of the other obscure heros of this story are the tireless and determined dogs accompanying them. This story really illustrates the hidden abilities and duration of the human spirit.

  7. 5 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    Shackleton's adventures are well-known. Less well-known is what happened on the other side of the continent, as his Ross Sea Party made a tremendous effort to lay out supply depots for Shackleton after he went to the South Pole. Of course, Shackleton never made it through the ice on the other side of the continent. These supply depots are still there on the ice somewhere. A well-written focused account of the ordeal. Shackleton's adventures are well-known. Less well-known is what happened on the other side of the continent, as his Ross Sea Party made a tremendous effort to lay out supply depots for Shackleton after he went to the South Pole. Of course, Shackleton never made it through the ice on the other side of the continent. These supply depots are still there on the ice somewhere. A well-written focused account of the ordeal.

  8. 5 out of 5

    CherryFee

    Nicely complements the Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage account to give a comprehensive tale of the expedition. Nicely complements the Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage account to give a comprehensive tale of the expedition.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gary Detrick

    I'm fasinated with the beauty of Antarctica and its stories of historic discovery. I hope to be able to see it for myself someday. That aside, this is easily a five star chronical and one to add to your library or reading list if you enjoyed the epic adventures of Shackleton, Scott, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, among others. A story of endurance, heartbreak, courage, brotherhood, compasion and extreme survival as this dreadful adventure unfolds. Overshadowed by some of the other historic events during I'm fasinated with the beauty of Antarctica and its stories of historic discovery. I hope to be able to see it for myself someday. That aside, this is easily a five star chronical and one to add to your library or reading list if you enjoyed the epic adventures of Shackleton, Scott, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, among others. A story of endurance, heartbreak, courage, brotherhood, compasion and extreme survival as this dreadful adventure unfolds. Overshadowed by some of the other historic events during this time that took place, this was as important and tragic and historical as those. Shackleton praised these men for their suffering as he also was entraped in his own crushing event at the same time on the other side.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shelley Alongi

    Fascinating book. When I read this book I feel lazy. These people who endeavored to supply food at the differentdepots across this savage continent were in my estimation above the average. It goes into detail without being tedious. I have always wanted to read a book about this expedition my Shackleton and I don’t think I would have thought about the people from the endurance who supplied the food. They both had severe losses and hardships and we should never forget those. It has been a little o Fascinating book. When I read this book I feel lazy. These people who endeavored to supply food at the differentdepots across this savage continent were in my estimation above the average. It goes into detail without being tedious. I have always wanted to read a book about this expedition my Shackleton and I don’t think I would have thought about the people from the endurance who supplied the food. They both had severe losses and hardships and we should never forget those. It has been a little over 100 years since that fateful crossing 1915 and things have changed since then. But the human spirit always makes for a tremendous story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Poppenk

    More of what They said: unbelievable, astounding, incredible! Having read Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage I could not wait to get my hands on everything else related to this stupendous story. Thoroughly enjoyed Bickle's unputdownable rendering of this side of Shackleton's venture. See also Caroline Alexander's 1998 book of Hurley's astonishing photographs of the expedition. More of what They said: unbelievable, astounding, incredible! Having read Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage I could not wait to get my hands on everything else related to this stupendous story. Thoroughly enjoyed Bickle's unputdownable rendering of this side of Shackleton's venture. See also Caroline Alexander's 1998 book of Hurley's astonishing photographs of the expedition.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aurel Mihai

    Based on one living account and a number of journals left by expedition members Lennard Bickel has pieced together, as the title states, a story of tragedy and endurance. The writing is compelling. It is brought to life by Bickel in a way difficult to imagine given the source material he had to work with. At the same time there is little sensationalist embellishment. The events of the story provide enough adventure that Bickel does not need to add more to sell it. Definitely worth reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Savannah L

    While this story is amazing and truly inspiring, the book itself is weirdly written. At times it was brief and fact-focused in its delivery. Then there would be 3 pages dedicated to describing the set up and break down of their camps. It felt like the author was torn between trying to be succinct and trying to be poetic.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Heather Gibson

    A great story of courage and perseverance, but a bit of a "hard sledging: to read. Having recently read Caroline Alexander's book The Endurance, it was very interesting to round out the whole story with what the other half of the expedition endured. A great story of courage and perseverance, but a bit of a "hard sledging: to read. Having recently read Caroline Alexander's book The Endurance, it was very interesting to round out the whole story with what the other half of the expedition endured.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    Everyone has read Endurance but not many realize this companion story exists. It's great read! Everyone has read Endurance but not many realize this companion story exists. It's great read!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Della

    Incredible story

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    Truly forgotten heroes. Behind every epic adventure is a huge team and in this case, they were forgotten and left behind. Very interesting

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tony Jones

    A stunning and well-written chronicle of a truly astounding journey.

  19. 5 out of 5

    christopher

    Serves as a good add on to Endurance. I was able to tour the hut in McMurdo and was nice to put a story to it. Great story and well written.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I would recommend this for anyone who has read Endurance, likes adventure stories or is interested in polar exploration. It is the amazing and tragic story of the other half of Shackleton's 1915-16 polar expedition. The idea was that half the team would land on one side with Shackleton (Weddell Sea) and the other half would land on the other side (Ross Sea) The Weddell Sea party would then trek across the continent carrying their own supplies half way. The Ross Sea party would lay supply depots f I would recommend this for anyone who has read Endurance, likes adventure stories or is interested in polar exploration. It is the amazing and tragic story of the other half of Shackleton's 1915-16 polar expedition. The idea was that half the team would land on one side with Shackleton (Weddell Sea) and the other half would land on the other side (Ross Sea) The Weddell Sea party would then trek across the continent carrying their own supplies half way. The Ross Sea party would lay supply depots for the coming men and then when everyone was safely to the Ross Sea side (presumably) they would all sail out together. The Ross Sea party, completed their task under horrible conditions, lacking supplies for themselves and at the cost of nearly all their dogs and 3 of their men. The sacrifice was made even worse, because the men never came. However one of the survivors (Dick Richards) said "That the effort was unnecessary, that the sacrifice was made to no purpose, in the end, was irrelevant. To me no undertaking carried through to conclusion is for nothing. And so I don't think of our struggle was futile. It was something the human spirit accomplished." Sir Vivian Fuchs, (who in 1958 successfully crossed the Antarctic continent as Shackleton hoped to), said this about the likelihood of the Shackleton party success in 1915-16; "If these factors had affected Shackleton's party his chances of success would have been small, indeed. It may therefore be permissible to comment that the loss of Endurance may have saved a worse disaster."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Admittedly, I know very little about Antarctica, Antarctic exploration and cold weather in general. This book was interesting to learn about the endless struggle of warring against the elements to essentially put a flag in the ground. The explorer, Shackleton, was I’m sure quite brave, but in hindsight made a few dumb decisions that led to this book. I did learn a lot and found in causal conversation with others that the rest of the world is significantly more familiar with Antarctic exploration Admittedly, I know very little about Antarctica, Antarctic exploration and cold weather in general. This book was interesting to learn about the endless struggle of warring against the elements to essentially put a flag in the ground. The explorer, Shackleton, was I’m sure quite brave, but in hindsight made a few dumb decisions that led to this book. I did learn a lot and found in causal conversation with others that the rest of the world is significantly more familiar with Antarctic exploration than I. The biggest complaint about the book is that it was really a second level book…as in I should have read the one in the kid’s section first. So pick up a more basic version, if you too are as clueless. There are a lot of terms, description of equipment, etc that I found myself…well…enduring. Second complaint is that there are two maps at the beginning of the book. I was hoping that these maps would make more sense by the end, but instead I am further confused about who was on first, what was on second, etc. So I might know a little more, but I am now more than likely inaccurate about my knowledge. Oh and keep a blanket nearby, because all the talk about -30 degree temps make you want to snuggle in a little.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    I thoroughly enjoyed Alfred Lansing's "Endurance" about the Shackleton expedition. This book covers the "rest of the story" about the team of men who were the supply team. They were marooned and had to struggle and fight their way across Antarctica, facing horrific condition, and this book throws light on their battles with the weather, the environment, and with illness, hunger, and exhaustion. I had never heard of this group of Shackleton's men, and was interested in learning more. I thoroughly enjoyed Alfred Lansing's "Endurance" about the Shackleton expedition. This book covers the "rest of the story" about the team of men who were the supply team. They were marooned and had to struggle and fight their way across Antarctica, facing horrific condition, and this book throws light on their battles with the weather, the environment, and with illness, hunger, and exhaustion. I had never heard of this group of Shackleton's men, and was interested in learning more.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    I generally like Bickel, but I got to page 56, and for the 20th or so time felt that I had read this material before, and better told. I suspect I have read a diary; maybe Joyce's. Regardless. Much dramatic impact is lost without the first person, so I am quitting. For this story, I would recommend to others a different version. I generally like Bickel, but I got to page 56, and for the 20th or so time felt that I had read this material before, and better told. I suspect I have read a diary; maybe Joyce's. Regardless. Much dramatic impact is lost without the first person, so I am quitting. For this story, I would recommend to others a different version.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    An incredible story of the adventurous and enduring human spirit. It is a remarkable tale. My only complaint was the author was somewhat confusing and his organization made it hard for me to keep everything straight. It's neat that he used excerpts from the men's actual diaries and it was very detailed. An incredible story of the adventurous and enduring human spirit. It is a remarkable tale. My only complaint was the author was somewhat confusing and his organization made it hard for me to keep everything straight. It's neat that he used excerpts from the men's actual diaries and it was very detailed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nerak

    Read while on a Clipper cruise to Antarctica a long time ago - a classic survival tale, one of the best.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Charles Blumberg

    Interesting read, amazing story of how men spend 2 years crossing Antartica travelling over 2000 miles by foot and sled with few supplies or clothing. How many survived is a testimony to the human spirit.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    The other side of the story for the South Pole and the endurance and determination of men. And how they survived terrible conditions without the modern clothing and equipment used today.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    The perfect antithesis to Shackletons awesome leadership. We get to see the amazing other side of the story. Your Shackleton study is not complete without this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Almost as gripping a story as the actual Shackleton/Endurance saga (but in this case, unfortunately, all did not survive). Absolutely amazing what these guys went through.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pete Planisek

    It's been years since I last read this one but remember both the book and this largely forgotten tragedy well. It's been years since I last read this one but remember both the book and this largely forgotten tragedy well.

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