When I first started Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing I was not sure how I felt about it. The beginning of the book pretty much put me to sleep but once I made it about halfway through the first section it began to draw me in. The book begins by introducing Endurance, a specially made ship intended for a trip to the Antarctic, its crew, and the events leading up to Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Anyone who plans to complete a trans-Antarctic expedition must have both endurance and motivation. The men aboard the Endurance all have different personalities but it is these two key traits that keep the crew and ship up and running.
The Endurance makes it to only 60 nautical miles outside of its intended landfall before it is frozen in a patch of ice. While stuck in the ice, life on the ship does not cease to exist. The men are kept busy by hunting for food, training and caring for the dogs, retrieving necessary supplies, and all their duties associated with keeping the ship running. The fact that the men managed to stick together even during the hard times proved that Shackleton had done an excellent job picking his crew. One example of this is when the crew is left in complete darkness during a few months. Despite the lack of light, lack of warmth, and a diminishing food supply, the men stayed in good spirits. In fact, that experience even brought them together. They often played games together, ate meals together, toasted the end of the day together, and even put on a show where some of them dressed as women. Another example of the crew’s high level of endurance and motivation is when the Endurance is attacked twice by ever mounting ice patches. During both attacks, the crew held it together and performed the necessary tasks without questioning and in good spirit. Numerous crew members wrote down in their diaries about the attacks and none of them ever sounded defeated. These were a determined group of men who would do anything in their power to keep their expedition going. When the Endurance is attacked for the third time the order to abandon ship is given. This is where the first section of the book ends. I am curious to see how the group holds together now that all they are left with is the harshness of the Antarctic.