Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
This is unquestionably the most amazing tale of men against the elements that I have ever read or heard, and it is told remarkably well by Lansing who draws artfully from the actual diary entries of the participants without ever reducing the narrative to a dry progression of quotes. His ability to bring the harrowing conditions and landscape, the fascinating array of characters, and the grueling sequence of challenges and hairsbreadth escapes into sharp and riveting focus is quite extraordinary. Simon Prebble is a perfect match for the fine writing. He audibly sorts out the personalities involved and presents the whole with an understated but charged clarity which keeps the narrative moving even through what could seem like a never ending and tedious progression of disasters in the voice of a lesser reader.
Of course the real stars here are Shackleton and the men under his command who prove themselves capable of feats of courage, endurance and simple, stubborn determination which almost surpass belief. Ordinary and flawed in so many ways, they come together to become much more than the sum of their individual qualities.
In the end, the most fascinating part of this story is the long and torturous series of life and death choices involved. Time after time Shackleton's decisions are crucial to the party's survival, whether the question is when to abandon the pack ice for the boats, when to kill the dogs, when to allow the party to split, or how to get to the bottom of a nearly vertical snowbound precipice in order to avoid freezing at high altitude (think Butch Cassidy and Sundance). Nature is an implacable adversary for these men, marshaling countless terrifying storms, thirst, cold, hunger, completely unpredictable ice and long weeks of winter darkness against them and time after time crushing hope just as it seems most justified. Perhaps the most extraordinary decision of all, under the circumstances, was the choice each of them made to simply keep on keeping on when it seemed to make no sense
Finally, while this tale is exhausting in some ways, it is also deeply inspiring and satisfying. And Lansing and Prebble have given us the wonderful opportunity to "experience" it all while sitting in comfort and safety. Almost doesn't seem fair, but I strongly urge you to take advantage of the offer.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
If you have ever been to or wanted to visit any of the great museums of the world, then you should read this and marvel!
It's a great book, but the real marvel is that we have never heard of this endeavor before. There are many stories of inspiration from WWII, and I think this ranks with the very best of them! It's the story of how we nearly lost most of the great and irreplaceable treasures of Western culture - and why that would have been a tragedy of unthinkable magnitude.
Of course, so many people died too. And, understandably perhaps, that story has been the focus of most books and movies about WWII. This book acknowledges that, but it also asks an important question about the role of art in the identity of nations.
Is any work of art worth a human life? Should military decisions include an attempt to preserve important cultural sites and works of art? These are questions well worth our consideration and "The Monuments Men" offers a terrific argument about why the answer should be "yes"! It was important in the past and should be in the future.
This book is fascinating! These people and their mission make for a "you couldn't make these things up", true and suspenseful story. The narrator does a great job.
I'll never again visit a museum without thinking about this book and the movie made from it. I know the movie didn't get great reviews, but it did bring to light a fantastic and hopeful story. Those who like books about history and/or art will enjoy both the filmed and audio versions.
This is important stuff!