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Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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"Gripping and superb. This book will steal the night from you." —Laurence Gonzales, author of Deep Survival
On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. The dogs were gone. Now Mawson himself plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface.
Mawson was sometimes reduced to crawling, and one night he discovered that the soles of his feet had completely detached from the flesh beneath. On February 8, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first teammate to reach him blurted out, "Which one are you?"
This thrilling and almost unbelievable account establishes Mawson in his rightful place as one of the greatest polar explorers and expedition leaders. It is illustrated by a trove of Frank Hurley’s famous Antarctic photographs, many never before published in the United States.
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''Mountaineer and prolific author Roberts returns with a vivid history of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson and his 1912 exploration of Antarctica . . . Roberts creates a full portrait of Mawson and does justice to what famed mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary would later call 'the greatest survival story in the history of exploration.' '' --Kirkus Reviews
''Douglas Mawson is not as well-known as Amundsen, Scott, or Shakleton, but as this intense and thrilling epic shows, he deserves a place on the pedestal next to these other great explorers of the Antarctic . . . This fast-moving account earns for Mawson and his team a well-deserved place of honor in the so-called heroic age of Antarctic exploration.'' --Booklist --This text refers to the mp3_cd edition.
- ASIN : B007Q6XJL8
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (January 28, 2013)
- Publication date : January 28, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 11328 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 393 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #131,182 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2017
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Many will recall the exploits of Roald Amundsen, leader of the 'Antarctic Expedition' (1910-12) to discover the South Pole along with numerous other arctic exploits, Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated 'Terra Nova Expedition' (1910-13), which took the lives of Scott and four comrades, and Ernest Shackleton's `heroic' account of his 'Endurance Expedition' (1914-17), which has perhaps become the most widely known account of an amazing sequence of events and the ultimate escape from death by an expedition in the Antarctic with no loss of life. Two films have been made of this epic drama, and a museum display with actual film footage shot during the expedition has been on the museum circuit around the world. I saw it while I lived in Anchorage, Alaska.
Yet, the story of Douglas Mawson's 'Australasian Antarctic Expedition' (1911-13), though written about several times prior to this book, has finally been told by Mr. Roberts with his usual expertise and in a most thorough manner, documenting yes "The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration."
The cast of characters covered in this book is overwhelming from the expedition members who accompanied Mawson, to the explorers before and after, to the loved ones who waited for their return, to the offspring and friends of those pioneers who lived to a ripe old age, and who were able to provide tidbits of information related to this magnificent adventure. Mr. Roberts has done a most thorough job of relating the facts, and he has done it in such a manner the reader feels compelled to hear the whole story long after Mawson's `survival tale' has been told, which is not the climax his book.
I believe Mr. Roberts has done so to bring this story into the limelight of today's so-called elite adventurers, who often seem more interested in pursuing a career as an adventurer solely to support their own adventures. One such modern day athlete, in the context of Mr. Robert's book chooses to recreate Mawson's journey, and at the same time have the whole thing filmed and made into a television show, comparing what was done in the `golden days' of Antarctic exploration with what the modern explorer under simulated circumstances could achieve today. It is an interesting paradox, which Mr. Roberts seems to be toying with.
Perhaps today's adventurers as well as their admirers have lost perspective, and for whatever reason have tried to push the envelope beyond the exploits of those men in whose footsteps they now follow.
I am one of those `modern day' explorers, who attempted to follow in the footsteps of those pioneer explorers on Mount McKinley in 1910-1913, who were ironically seeking their goals during the same time frame that Douglas Mawson and his team of hearty explorers were attempting their miraculous expedition. I am still in awe of what those golden age explorers accomplished, and because of my experiences during a mere 68-day expedition on Denali, my respect and admiration for what those men achieved will be with me until the day I die.
My admiration for writers like David Roberts is also felt in a similar vein, since Mr. Robert's life has not only been dedicated to a life of exploration and adventure, he has more importantly taken the time to document and record the fascinating history of those men and women, in whose footsteps he and other modern day adventurers have chosen to follow.
Jeffrey T. Babcock, author 'Should I Not Return'
Mawson himself had a most horrific experience as he and two companions were trying to return to their winter quarters from one of their research trips. One of the three (Ninnis by name) was manning a dog-pulled sledge that had most of their critical gear on it: food, tents, stoves, etc. The sledge, man, and dogs all fell into a huge crevasse and were killed. That left Mawson and the other man Mertz to continue on their way with only 1.5 weeks worth of food for a month-long journey. Soon Mertz got sick and finally died. Mawson stayed with Mertz for 8 days while he was too weak to travel, thus endangering Mawson's own survival by continued exposure to the cold. After Mertz's death, Mawson had to get back on his own across the frozen waste, through bad weather, and with no-one to help rescue him should he fall into a crevasse. He finally staggered back into winter quarters a month later ... and the ship that was to have taken the men (Mawson and others left at the winter quarters) back to Australia had left FIVE HOURS earlier, thus necessitating they stay at winter quarters another year until the ship could get back to them. Talk about endurance and fortitude!
And yet, they endured. If you like polar and exploration sagas, this one is a must-read. Mawson was knighted upon his return to Australia, and was celebrity-famous for decades in his home country.
Top reviews from other countries
I therefore became uninterested and stopped reading when it switched to a different expedition with different people.
Think you really need to be interested in this sort of thing to enjoy this book, but if your looking for a long complete survival story this is not it.
I thought this would be a story of one huge event, something like Touching the Void. Instead it seems to be focussing on multiple expeditions, with a pretty boring dry way of describing things. Might not bother reading any more of it
Douglas Mawson was a young geologist who would enjoy a lifelong association with Adelaide University. As an Antarctic explorer he earned his spurs on Shackleton's 1908 expedition aimed at reaching the South Pole, but as a scientist Mawson was interested in other things. Mawson's team on that trip was charged with getting as close as possible to the South Magnetic Pole which, unlike the fixed `true' pole, wanders considerably.
In 1912 Mawson returned with is own expedition at around the time Scott and Amundsen were racing each other to the South Pole. Mawson's aims were again scientific and geological, but he was also seeking to map as much as possible of the area of Antarctica closest to Australia. Sending part of his party to a separate departure point far to the west, he divided the main party into teams of three and, having overwintered, each set off to explore in different directions. Mawson's own team found itself in desperate trouble, the tale that is at the heart of `Alone on the Ice'. Even having survived appalling conditions in a crevasses-riddled landscape, with limited gear and dwindling rations, the endlessly determined and self-reliant Mawson found on his return to base new adversities waiting for him.
Mawson had with him in 1912-13 two men who played an important part in the golden age of Anatarctic exploration. One was Frank Wild, an Englishman who had been with Scott's 'Discovery' expedition and with Shackelton and Mawson in 1908. Put in charge of Mawson's western party, Wild would become even more famous as part of Shackleton's marathon trials of 1914-17. The other man was a young Australian photographer, Frank Hurley, whose photographs are well reproduced in this book and whose record of Shackleton's later expedition would set the seal on its fame.
The book cries out for a proper map of Antarctica, but in telling this thrilling tale for a new generation of readers, and putting it into context, the author has done the memory of Douglas Mawson a great service.
Chillingly told, with unbelievable, against-the-odds survival and scientific discovery, this book really captures the heroism of a bygone era and raises the spectre of one of the great adventurers of all time.
Douglas Mawson deserves to better remembered and this book certainly shows the reader exactly why.
A humbling read.