4.5 out of 5 Stars
The line between focus and obsession is very thin. Henry Worsley was one of those who crossed backwards and forwards over the line. He was a devoted husband and father and when serving in the special forces, was decorated for bravery. One Worsley‘sobsessions though was Ernest Shackleton. This explorer tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole and even attempted to cross the frozen continent on foot. Sadly he never succeeded in these adventures, but his leadership skills meant that he kept his men from dying.
It was those leadership skills that Worsley used when commanding his own men. There was another link too, Frank Worsley, one of Shackleton’s men, was a relation. He began to collect some of the items from the expeditions across the ice. He began to feel the call of the ice and started to plan his own expedition there. In 2008 he arrived there with two other descendants from Shackleton’s team. Nothing is easy in Antarctica and they fought against the landscape and the place to reach their goal. However, it did not get it out of his system. Antarctica became a place that he felt at home and seven years later, he was back there; this time to walk alone on a 1000 mile journey across the whole continent. He was going to have to pull all his supplies on a sled as he was not dependent on supply drops. It was a high-risk journey that was fraught with danger.
This is a short and intense book that is very moving. I had never read any of Grann’s books before but I thought that his writing is excellent. The descriptions of Worsley’s trips to Antarctica are sparse and yet full of presence. Not only is the story in this book quite something, but the photos taken from Worsley’s and the Shackleton collection are stunning. Can highly recommend this for anyone who has a fascination with the southern ice and about an amazing guy who was so driven to the ultimate limit.