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News and Commentary

28 March 2011

L to R: Lt. Armitage, Lt. Mulock, Lt. Shackleton, Dr. Wilson, Lt. Skelton, Capt. Scott, Lt. Royds, Dr. Koettlitz, Mr. Bernacchi and Mr. Ferrar on board Discovery

Classic Books from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration

Alex Kurtagic

Two books have reached the online shop which those who have read my reviews of similar accounts from the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration are sure to enjoy. Firstly, there is Robert Falcon Scott's The Journey of the Discovery, where he tells the tale of his first Antarctic expedition. Scott is famous for his tragic death, along with the rest of the polar party, on the Ross Ice Shelf on the return journey from the South Pole in 1912. The tale of that expedition, now known as the Terra Nova Expedition (1910-1913), is told in both his diaries and in the excellent book by one of the expedition members, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World, which also happens to be regarded as the best travel book every written. I reviewed it for the TOQ Online in 2009. Scott's first expedition is less well known, but an important one, as the events that took place in 1901-1903 came to define Scott's subsequent expedition and its terrible fate.

Between those two, an also an outcome of Scott's Discovery expedition was Ernest Shackleton's own (1907-1909). Shackleton had been in Scott's polar party during the latter's first (and failed) attempt to reach the geographical South Pole, but had fared worse than the others and was invalided home. Undaunted, Shackleton was back in Antarctica and made a new attempt on the Pole. He and his party made it across the Ross Ice Shelf, found a way to the Antarctic plateau, and travelled on it for the first time to within 97 miles of his target, before being forced to turn around in order to avoid certain death on the return journey.

Meanwhile, Douglas Mawson and his party reached the magnetic South Pole hundreds of miles away.

Shackleton's The Heart of the Antarctic is the story of that extraordinary expedition.

Included in the edition we're presently carrying is South, Shackleton's account of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17, another harrowing story of survival and old-fashioned heroism.

You can acquire both The Journey of the Discovery and The Heart of the Antarctic here.

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