Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: Shackleton's Amazing Voyage

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: Shackleton's Amazing Voyage

4.0 10
by Jennifer Armstrong
     
 

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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly recreates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history.

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross the Antarctic continent from one side to the other. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship,

Overview

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly recreates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history.

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross the Antarctic continent from one side to the other. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped. The expedition survived an Antarctic winter in the icebound ship, then, after Endurance sank, five months camped on the ice followed by a perilous boat journey through storms and icebergs to remote and unvisited Elephnat Island, 600 miles from Cape Horn. From there, their only hope was for someone to fetch help. In a dramatic climax to this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others navigated 800 miles of the treacherous open ocean in a 20-foot boat and then hiked across the unmapped, glacier-strewn interior of South Georgia Island to a whaling station. In August 1916, 19 months after Endurance first became icebound, Shackleton led a rescue party back to Elephant Island for his men.



Jennifer Armstrong narrates these almost unbelievable events with vigor, an eye for detail, and an appreciation of the marvelous leadership of Ernest Shackleton, who brought home every one of his men alive. With them survived a remarkable archive of photographs of the expedition, more than forty of which are reproduced here.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com

Incredible Endurance

Just imagine yourself in the most hostile place on earth. It's not the Sahara or the Gobi Desert. It's not the Arctic. The most hostile place on earth is the Antarctic...[where] in the winter, the temperature can sink to 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Cold air masses sliding down the sides of the glaciers speed up until they become winds of close to 200 miles per hour. When winter descends on the southern continent, the seas surrounding the land begin to freeze at the terrifying rate of two square miles every minute, until the frozen sea reaches an area of 7 million square miles, about twice the size of the United States. It is truly the most hostile environment this side of the moon. Just imagine yourself stranded in such a place....
from Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World

Sounds like a great introduction for an exciting video game, doesn't it? Or maybe a new adventure movie starring your favorite Hollywood heartthrob? Can you hear the wind howling against the glaciers now?

Believe it or not, this is a true story. In 1915, 28 men were stranded on the ice in Antarctica. Led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, already a celebrated hero around the world for his previous adventures and bravery, the team was trying to become the first group of explorers to cross Antarctica from one side to another. They were only 100 miles from land when their ship, named the Endurance, became trapped in the frozen sea. The pressure of the shifting ice was enough to crush the massive vessel, leaving the crew with no option but to set up camp on a slowly moving floe of ice. No one knew where they were because, of course, this was long before the invention of radar or radio signals powerful enough to travel between this wasteland and the rest of civilization. Their only hope, as the Antarctic winter picked up force around them, was to send someone across the bitter, stormy sea to fetch help.

Amazing, yes? Here's what's even more amazing: Every single member of the team -- including the two surgeons, the scientists, the seamen, the cook, and even the stowaway -- survived this incredible ordeal.

With a voice bubbling with infectious excitement and wonder, Jennifer Armstrong narrates this remarkable adventure. In Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, she takes us inside the ship, describing its stores (powdered milk, tobacco, canned meats, liquor, coal, rifles, lifeboats, lanterns, soccer balls, dogsleds) and its inhabitants (strong Irish sailors, a banjo-playing meteorologist, a daredevil photographer, and even the carpenter's sneaky tomcat, named, confusingly, Mrs. Chippy). Armstrong, a celebrated author of such young adult novels as The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan and Black-Eyed Susan, brings her considerable story-crafting talents to this real-life tale. The inside of the ship becomes so alive that we can smell its fetid air, we can hear the coins clank as the men play cards at night, and we can taste the spirits they drink after they shout their usual toast, "To our sweethearts and wives -- may they never meet!"

Further invigorating this true tale are the photographs taken by the team's photographer. Besides being insanely brave and willing to climb the ice-coated masts of the ship to get just the right shot, Frank Hurley brilliantly captured the camaraderie and bravery these men shared during their ill-fated expedition. We see them down in the hull of the ship, listening to records on the gramophone. We see the teams of dogs out on the ice. We see their squalid, freezing ice camps. We catch the glimmers of hope in their eyes (despite their exhaustion) and their obvious trust in their leader, Sir Shackleton (whom they call the Boss), and we know that it is these last two things -- their enduring hope and trust -- that kept all of the men alive during this ordeal.

How do they get off the ice? The story will leave you breathless, so we won't spoil it for you here.

In this age of fantastical music videos, extraterrestrial fantasies, superheroes with bionic powers, and intricate computer games, it's refreshing to hear the story of a real-life adventure and to meet 28 extremely brave people. This team of men, without computers or radios or any sophisticated equipment, survived "the most hostile environment this side of the moon." Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World will both humble and inspire teens who thirst for excitement. Jennifer Armstrong makes history come alive more vibrantly than any virtual-reality game.

—Cathy Young

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517800133
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
11/17/1998
Pages:
133
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.75(d)
Lexile:
1090L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Ever since the first grade, Jennifer Armstrong knew that she would become an author. She loved making up stories and sharing them with others. Her family treasured books and this led her to become an avid reader of all types of fiction. It was no surprise when she chose to study English and American Literature at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Armstrong is the author of over 50 books for children from kindergarten through high school. Best known for writing historical fiction, she has also been successful in

creating picture books, easy readers, chapter books, young adult novels, as well as nonfiction.

Armstrong, who grew up outside of New York City, now lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Jennifer Armstrong is the winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World. Many of her books have been designated as Notable Books by the American Library Association and the International Reading Association.

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