“Every man dies, not every man really lives.” – Braveheart
Endurance is a story of men who lived. When Earnest Shackleton’s planned antarctic expedition came to an abrupt halt amid the impenetrable polar sea, no one aboard the ship could have predicted the trials that lay ahead of them. No modern communications, limited supplies, and no way to escape the endless fields of ice.
This is a truly unforgettable read. Author Alfred Lansing does justice to the story, presenting the affair largely through the eyes (and journals) of the men who lived it. A Hollywood adventure come to life, Endurance is a hard one to put down. It may even be one of the greatest documented adventures in the history of mankind. Here is a tale of survival, adventure, and legendary leadership and camaraderie. The indomitable human spirit pitted against the raw forces of nature; a theme which seems increasingly lacking in our age of cubicles, cell phones, and the internet.
In retrospect, the book certainly left me feeling grateful for the relative safety afforded us by modern life and technology, yet perversely also just a bit jealous of these men, who for a time lived like none other. With no conveniences, no obligations, no society, and no particular future ahead of them, some of them found themselves, at least for awhile, surprisingly happy. And I think that is part of what makes the story of Endurance so special. It challenges you to stop and think a bit about the very world we live in, and how our surroundings influence our daily lives. And it may give you pause to wonder, at least for a minute, what life would be like if it suddenly all went away.