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  • Endurance

  • Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
  • By: Alfred Lansing
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (3,133 ratings)

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Summary

This is a new reading of the thrilling account of one of the most astonishing feats of exploration and human courage ever recorded.

In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

Lansing describes how the men survived a 1,000-mile voyage in an open boat across the stormiest ocean on the globe and an overland trek through forbidding glaciers and mountains. The book recounts a harrowing adventure, but ultimately it is the nobility of these men and their indefatigable will that shines through.

©1959 Alfred Lansing (P)2007 Blackstone Audo, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic reviews

"[O]ne of the most extraordinary tales of heroism and determination in the history of exploration....Prebble's narration will bring to life the despair, elation, and sheer will of these men to survive, and to triumph, together." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Endurance

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  • c
  • 15-02-16

How Did They Endure This -and Survive?

Would you consider the audio edition of Endurance to be better than the print version?

I can't directly compare the two as I haven't read the novel, but the narrator, Simon Prebble, does a truly wonderful job and he complements the novel perfectly.

What other book might you compare Endurance to, and why?

This is the first novel of its' kind that I've ever listened to and because I was so totally immersed in it, and captivated by it, I will be searching for more. The question is, will I find anything this good again? What a truly fantastic story of human courage and perseverance by every single member of this expedition. Not least of whom was Ernest H. Shackelton.

What about Simon Prebble’s performance did you like?

A great example of how to perfectly balance the re-telling of such an epic journey. No need for over-emphasis or over dramatisation because it seems that was just not the way of any of the members of this expedition. Heroes really,to a man but I daresay they would never have seem themselves that way.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes but mentally I could not have 'endured' it! I was exhausted just listening to it. How DID they live through this? I felt so humbled by their bravery. Endurance is the perfect title.

Any additional comments?

A novel full of heroes, each in their own way. Why anyone would risk putting themselves through this is a mystery to me still, but that fact did not detract in any way from my absolute admiration for Shackelton and his stoic men. What a great,great pity that this wasn't acknowledged at the time for being the pinnacle of achievement we all see it for today.We do indeed live in better and more enlightened times now.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Staggering

This is a great account of a journey that would not be able to find a place in fiction because it would stretch credulity too far. The story of Shackleton's ill fated expedition is well known but even knowing the ending did not make this account any less gripping - it is rather like a pre-space age Apollo 13!
The reading is first rate and the reader draws out the personalities and underplays the performance to good effect. The events are dramatic enough on their own.
Highly recommended

15 people found this helpful

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Enthralling

One of the best Audio books I have listened to. The story is gripping and the narrator imparts just the right amount of tension at key moments.
The mental and physical challenges encountered by Shackleton and his team was, and remains, the finest example of leadership and human endurance unsurpassed in modern day history.

14 people found this helpful

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An amazing story, wonderfully told

I thought that this audio book may be a little bit dry , maybe a bit too detailed without much emotion or human interest. I was wrong !

To me , there was a perfect balance between stark facts and personal stories to draw you into the narrative. I could never wait for the next opportunity to find out what had become of that party of men, stranded in the Antarctic.

Though I knew a very little about Shackleton himself, I was almost completely unfamiliar with the details of this episode previously. However, the situation, the environment and the individuals involved were all brought rapidly to life .

I feel that anyone with the slightest interest in this type of story will be delighted with this purchase. Personally, I enjoyed it so much, I will be listening to it again very soon. . .

13 people found this helpful

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Enduring the Polar Regions, and Exploration.

Would you listen to Endurance again? Why?

YES- I will listen many times to this Audiobook, because it draws me.

I have always been fascinated by Polar Exploration from my boyhood, but especially Antarctica. Even the name arouses thoughts and feelings of the ends of the World. As Scott said- "Great God, this is an awful place". And yet it is also incredibly beautiful and very interesting, in terms of its own Geological, Environmental History. Antarctica has been a Global Traveler long before Humans walked the Earth. (SEE LAST SECTION).

I had the old book 'South With Scott'? and I became familiar with Franklin, Greely and of course Nansen and Amundsen's Expeditions, but Shackleton's last epic story has always been my favorite. His way with dealing with men, Crises and other situations, was so different to Scott, although sometimes similar to Amundsen. Not Hierarchical, and yet not Democratic either. He treated men fairly yet he knew how to stop the confrontation with Chippy the Carpenter. Then again he cared for each and every member to a tiny detail, but without each man knowing, or feeling uncomfortable..

I would recommend Endurance not just as a great Audiobook, which it IS, but there are also examples and lessons for our 21st Century lives and situations; and forms of Personnel Management, that are so badly lacking today.

WELL DONE to all concerned in producing yet another Audible success.
Jack.

What other book might you compare Endurance to, and why?

I would have no problem linking this remarkable story, with that of Apollo 13.
The similarities and contrasts are many and varied, but both stories tell of courage and determination to pull victory from the jaws of almost certain defeat - and oblivion.

The fact that an Expedition found itself in serious and immediate danger right at the very end , and even beyond of any possible help. The difference being, with Apollo 13, there was a sense that most of the Earth's Human population WILLED the crew back to Earth and safety; glued to the edge of their seats.
But during 1914-15, only a relative few had any idea of the plight of Shackleton's Expedition members. Or the fact that so many went straight into the Great War after returning home.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The story has so many moments that moved me, including the shooting of the puppies; but another moment has got to be when Shackleton found the his party trapped on the Island whilst he went for help.

Any additional comments?

I recently finished my latest poem about (and dedicated to) Polar Explorers. And I'd like to share it here. I present to you, Lost In The Ice.

LOST IN THE ICE.
A land of frozen mountains and endless ice. will crush all human dreams;
and can we ever know what a Polar region really means.
Antarctica was once a Temperate Zone;
this Global traveler, in times before we were known.

From Scott to Shackleton, Franklin, yes and Greely too;
they set out bravely to inspire me and you.
their journeys always start out filled with hope;
winds are fair, as through the floes they grope.

But their trust in skills - a fickle thing;
takes no account of Nature's bitter sting.
Once in the land where no-one's welcome;
the 'Terror' and 'Erebus' would both succumb

Erebus means the 'Gates of Hell’;
their trials and torment, so hard to tell.
Supported by the newly found science;
foods to test Sir John Franklin's patience.

The ticking time bomb, in lead-lined cans;
a poison chalice, accepted by luckless fans.
The man once known for eating his boot;
left three dead witnesses, on Beachy Island they lie and moot.

The man called Scott and four brave friends;
their numbers dwindle with the wind's changing trends.
"Just eleven miles more", screamed the howling storm's might;
The poor man 'Oates' turns and stumbles, alone into the night.

They found them then, as the Sun returned;
No sign of warmth; or that saving oil had burned.
No sign of leaving Scott, from the blizzard to hide;
the bounds of friendship prevented the will to divide.

Then Shackleton's team, and good ship Endurance;
provided hope, preventing all ideas of prudence.
Trapped in the turning jail of Weddell;
they cling to thoughts of home; in frozen Hell.

Never forgotten, we speak their name;
Laying there, no wrong or shame.
Their quest- to stretch the bounds of discovery;
lost forever, all hopes of recovery.

Perhaps one day if you are able;
picture one such nightmare fable.
out there on the ice they toil and drag;
the ghostly team of bone and rag.

Blackened mouths and painful joints through Haemorrhage;
to stagger forever can be, their only heritage.
They want to rest, to sleep and die;
but lost they are, to ever walk on by.

And what of Nansen and Amundsen in all this?
Different methods they used, it went like this.
When Scott said he'd use ponies and dogs;
Nansen replied- "I'd use dogs, dogs, and dogs".

To write some words, an Epitaph new.
is all that those like me can do.
To do for them some form of justice;
Perhaps one day, they'll get to read this.
BY JACK D HARRISON.
MON 03-07-2017.

12 people found this helpful

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Astonishing, inspirational, unforgettable

Simply the most incredible and inspirational story I have ever heard. Have listened twice and it loses nothing second time around. Awe inspiring to hear what those amazing men endured.

10 people found this helpful

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Harrowing and inspiring

They were made of sterner stuff back then. Scarcely believable tale of endurance and hardship.

9 people found this helpful

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  • M
  • 27-05-17

True Heroics

Set against our present age of hyped-up sporting "triumphs", celebrity vloggers and x-factor instant successes, this is a story of truly heroic behaviour. After setting the last great goal of antarctic exploration (walking from one side to the other), Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of twenty seven assorted seamen, scientists, artists and adventurers face one set-back after another. They accept appalling suffering, and an endlessly diminishing sense of security as the expedition is first icebound, then cast adrift on a frozen sea with little but the clothes they are wearing. Although the leadership of Shackleton looms large in every episode, his eventual accomplishment is only really possible because of the extraordinary crew he had formed, and their ability to "grunt and go" never fails to amaze. Even the most flawed of them appears almost superhuman in modern terms.

This account was published in the 50s, and offers exceptional practical detail, even if it does brush too lightly over some of the interpersonal antagonisms that coloured the men's experiences. A near mutiny by the ship's carpenter McNish, is a particularly sad story that is not followed to its conclusion, and the somewhat selfish Thomas Orde-Lees is let off surprisingly gently, being treated largely as the camp clown.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely stunning!

What a story. Brave, foolhardy, or plain
irresponsible, whatever your opinion after reading
this you will wonder how they did it. The reader
caught the right level of authority and awe. I just
couldn't put it down.

7 people found this helpful

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If only I could give it 6 stars

Simply the best audiobook I've ever listened to. Brilliant on every level. They don't make men like this anymore. As soon as I finished it I started again from the beginning as I'll never find another book this good.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas Allen
  • 17-09-08

The best book I've had

I just walked into the house after sitting in my Jeep in the driveway to finish off the last half-hour or so of this incredible book. Strangely enough, I couldn't wait for the book to be over, not because the book wasn't outstanding, but because I just wanted the trials and ordeals of these unfortunate but heroic men to be over. And as the story came into the last chapter and epilogue, I found myself almost brought to tears several times. At the risk of sounding ridiculously sentimental, this book brought into sharp contrast many of my own shortcomings and made me want to work to become a stronger and better person. I wonder if I would have survived.

270 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 19-01-14

Superb in so many ways

This is unquestionably the most amazing tale of men against the elements that I have ever read or heard, and it is told remarkably well by Lansing who draws artfully from the actual diary entries of the participants without ever reducing the narrative to a dry progression of quotes. His ability to bring the harrowing conditions and landscape, the fascinating array of characters, and the grueling sequence of challenges and hairsbreadth escapes into sharp and riveting focus is quite extraordinary. Simon Prebble is a perfect match for the fine writing. He audibly sorts out the personalities involved and presents the whole with an understated but charged clarity which keeps the narrative moving even through what could seem like a never ending and tedious progression of disasters in the voice of a lesser reader.

Of course the real stars here are Shackleton and the men under his command who prove themselves capable of feats of courage, endurance and simple, stubborn determination which almost surpass belief. Ordinary and flawed in so many ways, they come together to become much more than the sum of their individual qualities.

In the end, the most fascinating part of this story is the long and torturous series of life and death choices involved. Time after time Shackleton's decisions are crucial to the party's survival, whether the question is when to abandon the pack ice for the boats, when to kill the dogs, when to allow the party to split, or how to get to the bottom of a nearly vertical snowbound precipice in order to avoid freezing at high altitude (think Butch Cassidy and Sundance). Nature is an implacable adversary for these men, marshaling countless terrifying storms, thirst, cold, hunger, completely unpredictable ice and long weeks of winter darkness against them and time after time crushing hope just as it seems most justified. Perhaps the most extraordinary decision of all, under the circumstances, was the choice each of them made to simply keep on keeping on when it seemed to make no sense

Finally, while this tale is exhausting in some ways, it is also deeply inspiring and satisfying. And Lansing and Prebble have given us the wonderful opportunity to "experience" it all while sitting in comfort and safety. Almost doesn't seem fair, but I strongly urge you to take advantage of the offer.

174 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • russell
  • 09-12-08

Endurance

I usually never write a review but because this book was so good I had to say something about it. From the beginning to the end the story was very interesting and more because it was true. I think Hollywood should read this book and make a movie out of it instead of the garbage that they make today in Hollywood. You cannot imagine the hardships that these men suffered and the courage that they had don't miss this one you won't be sorry

102 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennie
  • 12-12-08

Unbelievably riveting!

I could not stop listening to this absolutely amazing story- I listened to the whole 13 hours and 59 minutes in the course of 2 days! It is intense, well written, and Simon Prebble is, in my opinion, the best narrator on earth. I highly recommend this audiobook!!

69 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jane
  • 27-01-10

Inspiration

A magnificent book and well read. An extraordinary adventure which reveals the range of human capacities for endurance, teamwork, innovation, care for others, compassion and bravery. Bravery, bravery, bravery. It is almost impossible to comprehend the level of persistence shown by these stranded Antarctic explorers as they sought to escape from their immensely dangerous, if not impossible, predicament.

By way of tragic contrast, on the other side of the world, World War I raged where thousands upon thousands of humans killed each other for reasons they were not sure of.

Endurance is an accessible glimpse into a side of human nature that might inspire people who are feeling directionless and lost.

53 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Don Lance
  • 11-09-08

Great comprehensive narrative

While there are other books that cover this famous expedition, this one seems to be very comprehensive and doesn't skip over a lot of details. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Kept my attention throughout the narrative, and I kept wondering how everyone in the expedition would survive such adversity.

I would give it 5 stars except I think the ending left me "hanging" a bit. I expected an epilogue or some type of follow-up with how the expedition members integrated back into society. (Or how society responded to their harrowing tale in the months/years that followed.) But it was not there.

I recommend it anyway for anyone who loves a great adventure story!

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Angela
  • 16-01-10

Amazing Adventure!

I read this book several years ago and was looking for a good book to listen to.

(The Help was so excellent it has raised my standards for audiobooks. I am finding it very difficult to listen to other books.)

Although I know the beginning, end and middle of the story, I am still anxious to finish it. I'm not sure how a book that has been already read can be suspenseful but it is.

The hardships that the men had to endure and how they faced it are amazing. The detail that the author included in the book is perfect - enough to understand the hardships and the backgrounds but not so much that it is boring and slow.

The narrator does an excellent job with pacing and with the different voices.

Excellent book!

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carpe Diem
  • 09-12-09

Enthralling

A thrill ride to hell and back. Excitingly written and narrated. I almost felt like I was there. Just when you think their situation can't get any more desperate, it does.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 27-01-14

Now THIS is Edge-Of-Your-Seat Storytelling!

Where does Endurance rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Endurance is, quite possibly, the best of all my audiobooks. You know how the story's going to turn out, but it's still a breathless journey through a nightmare of a situation. I kept finding myself shouting, "Shackleton!" throughout my day, much to my husband's dismay. But you're so immersed, you can't help but drag it through your current existence. Recently on PBS, they've shown "Chasing Shackleton," but the journey of those men is as nothing to Shackleton and his men's situation. And the show has swelling background music that the audiobook doesn't need to convey drama or severity. Extraordinary. And Simon Prebble's narration is flawless in his delivery. Who else could deliver subtle variations in voice, tone, pacing that the story hinges on, like he can here?

What did you like best about this story?

I liked that, though I knew about the history of their quest and their plight, I certainly didn't know the specifics of their ordeal. This audiobook flows like only the best literature can. It's an edge-of-your-seat read/listen and you will find yourself blown away by the tenacity of the men, and by their resourcefulness.

Which scene was your favorite?

I particularly enjoyed the way the men kept a semblance of "normalcy" in horrific circumstances. Who else, but Shackleton, would encourage cheer and playfulness on Christmas. And there's one part, during the daring voyage to St. George, where, after brutal, bitter conditions, the men are so relieved by the minor, minor lifting of terrifying weather, that they're joyful, and they seem like they're out for a jaunt, picnickers on a spring day. I stopped all my sniveling about cold weather after I got through that scene.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Oh, I had extreme reactions all over the place. THIS is what a five-star audiobook is! Utter transportation to somewhere I had no idea ever existed. You feel the joy of the men, their resignation. You feel their fear, and you come to love some of them so much, you feel fear for them. Exhilarating, I tell you!

Any additional comments?

Spend your credit on this book, buy it outright, whatever! Just give yourself the gift to this wonderful journey and enjoy! You'll be thinking of it long after you're finished listening.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 05-04-14

Cold

Wherever you are, before listening, put on a heavy coat, it is going to get cold. I don't listen to many history books, preferring to listen to historical fiction. This has enough drama and adventure to not need any fiction. This is a true story written so well, that you will feel you are there. Dan Simmons wrote a similar historical fantasy fiction about a ship trapped in the artic for over two years. It was good, but not as good as this. This was written in 1959 and will be just as good 100 years from now.

I would like to say this was adventure when adventure meant something, but I was never convinced that crossing the continent of Antarctica was important and it seems they were mainly doing it to be famous and to not have the work the rest of their lives.

Mr. Prebble is the gentleman narrator and no one else good have been picked to read this.

28 people found this helpful