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Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story by Joanna Grochowicz

Title: Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story

Author: Joanna Grochowicz

Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 4th May 2021

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: Ernest Shackleton’s remarkable story is a terrifying adventure with the happiest of endings – another brilliant narrative non-fiction Antarctic adventure featuring an explorer who was a true polar hero.

Adrift on the Antarctic pack ice with no means of escape and no hope of rescue, Ernest Shackleton and his men are surely doomed.

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and his men set sail for Antarctica, where they plan to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, his ship, the Endurance, becomes locked in pack ice. Later, it sinks without a trace.

To survive, Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men must undertake a trial even more extreme than their planned crossing of the frozen continent. Their aim is to make it home against tremendous odds, with only lifeboats to cross the heavy seas of the South Atlantic – and the life-saving power of Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership skills.


In 1914, Just before World War One, which would then be known as the Great War, Ernest Shackleton and a team of explorers set off to explore Antarctica. Seven months later, their ship. The Endurance is locked in pack ice, and the two expedition teams are separated after it sinks. Shackleton and his men must utilise the lifeboats to cross the treacherous seas as they wait months and months for any chance of rescue as war ravages the world, and these men seem to be forgotten. But Shackleton will do everything he can to keep his crew alive until they can be rescued amidst a world war.

Most people have some knowledge of Shackleton and his expedition, but this book retells the story to a younger audience – middle grade to early young adult – and ensures that this event in history is explored for younger readers as well as older readers. It is the sort of book that can be used in educational contexts – history about explorers and expeditions either in general or in a specific unit about Antarctic exploration, for geography classes looking at the Arctic, as an example of narrative non-fiction in English, and probably a myriad of ways and in many other subjects that I haven’t thought of, because it has that feel of being flexible in terms of educational needs as well as reading for fun.

Delightfully, as most non-fiction books do, Joanna gives a bibliography at the back allowing readers of all ages to explore what happened further, and explore the Antarctic further as well. This was an interesting book to read, as it was never an event I studied in history, but heard about peripherally through other sources, and a movie watched towards the end of one school year, perhaps on the last day in one of my classes after we wrapped up and had nothing else to do. So that was my first experience of hearing about Shackleton, and from there, it was incidental mentions. An interesting study for history would be to study him alongside World War One, and what it was like being stuck in the Antarctic whilst the rest of the world was at war and wanting to get back to enlist.

In a time when these sorts of expeditions were commonly led by men, this is a distinctly male-driven narrative, but at the same time, shows what else was going on during the war years and illustrates what some men did other than fighting during the war, and the drive to get back to help with the war effort. It is a book that will appeal to those interested in the topic, especially younger ages who have been seeking something age appropriate or more dynamic than what is available. This is a really interesting book that gives a wider picture to what was going on in 1914-1916 other than a world war.

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