QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World

My eight year old took out some "survival" books from the library (all are choose-your-own-adventure style books from the You Choose: Survival series[1]). It prompted me to pull out Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong. I tried to get him interested in it, but he resisted. I ended up reading it myself.

Shipwreck is a juvenile book, but it is not written for the elementary school set. The difficulty is on-par with a typical magazine feature. The length and the detail are far below a more scholarly work. Length is a lot longer than a typical magazine feature.

The shipwreck is Shackleton's Endurance, used for his failed attempt to be the first to cross Antartica in 1914. That was the second Antartic expedition he lead, after his first (1907-9 Nimrod expedition) failed attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. (Amundsen was first to the pole in 1911, Scott was second and died before returning.)

The story of the Endurance is remarkable, moreso by Shackleton bringing back all of his crew alive more than a year after becoming stuck in the pack ice, and more than six months after the pack ice had crushed and sunk the Endurance. Plus he returned with loads of photos, many of which were beautifully detailed glass plates, but some smaller and less detailed.[2]

For an adult, a brief read, but always interesting. Three of four rescue attempts for the crew stranded on Elephant Island.[3]

[1] I found this list of books in the series: at Barnes and Nobel

[2] A few of the photos: wikimedia page

[3] For some reason, Google offers to provide "directions" to and from Elephant Island, but can't seem to make good on that offer. Google maps page

Bovril ad with Shackleton