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The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition 1914–1917.

Published: London: William Heinemann, 1919

Stock code: 88770

Price: £3,500

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This item is on show at 100 Fulham Road (map)

First edition, first impression, with the three-line errata slip pasted into the gutter at page 1. “The failure of Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to even reach the Antarctic continent, much less to cross it via the South Pole, has become the great polar success story of the twentieth century” (Books on Ice). Shackleton embarked in 1914 on the Endurance to make the first traverse of the Antarctic continent; a journey of some 1800 miles from sea to sea. But 1915 turned into an unusually icy year in Antarctica; after drifting trapped in the ice for nine months, the Endurance was crushed in the ice on October 27. “Shackleton now showed his supreme qualities of leadership. With five companions he made a voyage of 800 miles in a 22-foot boat through some of the stormiest seas in the world, crossed the unknown lofty interior of South Georgia, and reached a Norwegian whaling station on the north coast. After three attempts. Shackleton succeeded (30 August 1916) in rescuing the rest of the Endurance party and bringing them to South America” (DNB). Amazingly, all members of the Endurance party survived the ordeal, attributing their survival to Shackleton’s exceptional leadership qualities. In recent years, this factor has led to the re-interpretation of the book in terms of a leadership and man-management manual, and several influential attempts have been made to distil from the narrative the underlying principles of Shackleton’s command in order that they might be applied more widely. As Apsley Cherry-Garrard remarked in Worst Journey in the World; “For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen; and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time.”

Octavo. Original midnight-blue cloth, title in silver to the spine and to the upper board together with a large block of Endurance stuck in the ice, publisher’s device in blind to lower board. Colour frontispiece and 87 half-tone plates, folding map at the rear. A little rubbed, head and tail of the spine crumpled, corners slightly bumped, contemporary ownership inscription to the front free endpaper, short split at the tail of the front hinge, crack between pages xiv and xv, uniformly browned as usual, short tear into the folding map stub, as often, overall a very good copy of a book which is subject to problems derived from the wartime shortages, this better preserved than usual.

Bibliography: Books on Ice 7.8; Conrad p. 224; Spence 1107; Taurus 105.

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