Research Blog Antarctica #26

Non-fiction: Roland Huntford: Shackleton (Abacus 1996, orig. 1985)

One of Roland Huntford’s three massive biographies of the explorers of the Heroic Age, I left this for the last because Shackleton is so fashionable these days, I’ve gone through his story three times so far already, once in Shackleton’s own account, South, about his third and most famous Antarctic expedition, once in a documentary movie about the same expedition, and once in a fiction movie, eyet again about the same expedition. I’ve had enough of Shackelton.

The other two Huntford biographies are The Last Place on Earth, about Scott and Amundsen, and Nansen.

It says something about Huntford’s skill that the story seems fresh again, perhaps because of all the context and detail he provides. Huntford clearly has great affection for his main character, but that doesn’t stop him from assessing Shackleton’s weaknesses and foibles in a very honest way. I was bored of Shackleton before I read this, and now I learned to like him again.