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Publisher's Summary

This is a new reading of the thrilling account of one of the most astonishing feats of exploration and human courage ever recorded.

In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

Lansing describes how the men survived a 1,000-mile voyage in an open boat across the stormiest ocean on the globe and an overland trek through forbidding glaciers and mountains. The book recounts a harrowing adventure, but ultimately it is the nobility of these men and their indefatigable will that shines through.

©1959 Alfred Lansing; (P)2007 Blackstone Audo, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Nominee, 2008 Audie Award, Nonfiction, Unabridged

"[O]ne of the most extraordinary tales of heroism and determination in the history of exploration....Prebble's narration will bring to life the despair, elation, and sheer will of these men to survive, and to triumph, together." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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One of the best books on Audible, without a doubt

I didn't know anything about Ernest Shackleton or the Endurance when I started this book, and I have no idea how that could have been. This story is SO AMAZING that it should be on every school reading list in the world. The events that unfolded in the voyage of the crew of the Endurance are frightening and yet awe-inspiring at every corner. I am impressed with the discipline, camaraderie, strength, and endurance that those men showed in surviving long enough to make it back to civilization.

Alfred Lansing does an incredible job of bringing the story to life. His writing is superb, and even poetic. His descriptions left my mouth hanging open and my mind swirling with images, sounds, and feelings on many, many occasions. Simon Prebble also does a world-class job as narrator. He adopts a different accent and manner of speech for each of the crew, bringing them to life as if they themselves were reading their journal entries. His voice carries all of the emotion and wonder and sorrow that the author could possibly ever have hoped to convey. Very well done, gentlemen.

I can't believe this book hasn't been made into a movie yet. With today's special effects they could really bring it to life.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Shackleton pure and everything-but-simple

As excruciating an experience as any human beings ever suffered becomes an exquisite and powerful narrative. Great courage, confusion, hope, desolation, and all offered up in a gripping book. Exceptional work of literature.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • X
  • Cincinnati, OH, United States
  • 03-20-11

SHIVER ME TIMBERS - WHAT A RIPPING YARN!!

I was familiar with Shackleton's story, having read Caroline Alexander's book, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition.

Having read both, I am convinced that Lansing's is far better. If you read only one book on the subject, read this one instead of Caroline Alexander's book [Just to be fair to Caroline Alexander, I loved her book about the Mutiny on the Bounty and I wish that Audible would release it in unabridged length].

Now on to the book itself. You can read many other reviews if you want a plot summary. In a nutshell, this is a story of survival and endurance nonpareil. I read this book because I was feeling sorry for myself at the time. I just finished the book and I no longer feel that way.

The writing and narration are superb. I have read many audiobooks and this is one of my favorites. This book flew by and held my interest throughout.

I am left with a keen interest to see the James Caird boat which is on display in the U.K.



7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Now THIS is a hero!

I admit I had no knowledge of, or particular interest in, the polar expeditions but was interested enough in the travel and adventure to listen to this book. The first half was a bit of a slog, as they hit bad luck pretty quickly and the day in and day out trying to wait out the pack ice holding them captive was slow going.

But the second half, as Shackleton leaves his crew behind to try to make it to any semblance of civilisation and eventual rescue is staggeringly impressive; it is only a series of extraordinary decisions made by Shackleton that allowed them to survive. And perhaps a few miracles, too: e.g. stuck on a razorback mountain with the temperatures dropping below zero, guaranteed to freeze to death if they stayed or tried to turn back, he chose to slide with his two men into the completely unseen, fogged in, precipice below - and against all odds they actually survived this without a scratch, picked themselves up and kept going!

The narration was utterly gripping, well paced with the action and emotion, a fantastic job. I was shaking for some time after finishing this, my heart was still pounding so hard and I could hardly catch my breath; I could only think 'men used to be like this!' Now I want to know everything about all the polar explorers because this is a breed of men I have never encountered. Shackleton is my new hero: he had a genius for survival and leadership, and he returned to rescue all his men without loss of life. Incredible. This is an exceptional story about human nature.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 01-10-17

Put On Your Down Jackets and Listen!

Tossing around the idea of getting this audiobook? Go for it. It's just another of those great books that sat too long in my library while I picked other, "more compelling" books to listen to (not!)

This true story documented by Alfred Lansing has everything. The story is impeccably researched using the men's day-to-day diaries. I felt like I was right there with them and started looking around for my down parka and vest. I could imagine so well what the daily grind was like, the discomfort, the hopefulness eventually fading to alarm and fear, the hunger, the tedium, and the seemingly endless misery.

As I continued, I gained a new found appreciation and admiration of Ernest Shackleton, the boat owner and captain of the polar expedition. As far as I am concerned, he is someone to be remembered, honored, and emulated for the expert way he led his men. He took care of all of their needs as best as he could and worked so diligently to keep the morale up. It appears he came from a time when moral fiber was more evident and more valued than it is today. (So sad for us.)

The story had different segments, all intriguing. We learn of how the expedition was conceived, the early parts up to the ship getting hopelessly stuck in the polar ice, the need for leaving the ship as the crushing ice floes prepared to take the ship down, camping on ice floes that were being destroyed gradually as their ship had previously been, the treks with the three heavy lifeboats, and Shackleton's attempt to rescue his men by using a rickety lifeboat that just should not have been able to survive the world's most treacherous seas. This last part was particularly engaging, and I get the feeling that miracles were occurring, deservedly so.

Add to this great true story an expert narrator, Simon Prebble, and you have an unforgettable listening experience. Prebble is such a pleasure to listen to that I simply must search out other books read by him. Lansing and Prebble combined to make one of my most memorable listening experiences.

So, if you have been undecided on this book, I say go for it.

(And if you love it as much as I did, continue on and get "Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World" by Joan Druett. This book details the true and intriguing story of two simultaneous shipwrecks and survival stories occurring in the Auckland Islands in the 1860's, equally well written and performed.)

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Castro Valley, CA, United States
  • 07-12-10

A Powerful Reading of A Seminal Story

The story of the 1914-17 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition is one of the most inspiring tales of human endeavour and leadership that can be found. I have read books on this subject many times and I was deeply impressed with Simon Prebble's narration. A "must listen"!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Union, KY, United States
  • 02-27-09

Wow

What a great story. This book is worth the money. I find it quite interesting that this happened almost 100 years ago. The true depth of human character and willpower is displayed throughout this book. I wonder if we still have that kind of heart in today's society.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Incredible Story Well Told

A re-telling of a true story that reads more like a novel. You gain incredible respect for the survival skills of pre-techno man. Although the book is 50 years old, you have no sense of it being dated while listening to it and after the telling, you hit Wiki to learn more. Highly recommend.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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An Exquisitely Excruciating Experience

Following Sir Ernest Shackleton and his intrepid crew as they struggle to survive with their humanity and bodies intact in places where human beings have no business being was a fascinating experience: head shaking, mind boggling, hair raising, moving, and unforgettable.

Author Alfred Lansing weaves throughout his absorbing account the actual journal entries of several of the men that express their different personalities and provide different points of view on their grueling plights. The descriptions of the incredibly alien Antarctic landscapes (snow, pack ice, ice bergs, glaciers, giant sheer cliffs, and oceans churned by powerful currents, violent storms, and hundred foot waves) in incredibly inhospitable conditions (rain, sleet, hail, and blizzards whipping snow and shards of ice and rock every which way) are beautiful, sublime, and terrifying by turns. The wildlife (penguins, seals, sea leopards, whales, and the like) are so at home relative to the pathetic pygmy human interlopers, and yet the very foolishness and fragility of Shackleton and his men, whose original mission to become the first human beings to cross the Antarctic continent fails in the first chapter of the book, achieve a heroic grandeur as their plight becomes grimmer and grimmer. Many of the images persist in my mind long after finishing the book, like one moment when, during an intense storm at sea a giant albatross with a twelve-foot wingspan spirals up and down with lazy grace through the hurricane force winds to check out Shackleton and his men as they are frantically working to keep their boat from foundering???

And Simon Prebble delivers an excellent reading of the book, enhancing with his rich voice the humor, pathos, terror, exhilaration, frustration, disappointment, and resolution of the characters even as he speaks in their varied dialects of English.

This book really is an Incredible Voyage, and is surely the most exciting history book I???ve ever read.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 11-18-17

Astonishing

I knew Ernest Shackleton was a polar explorer, but, beyond that, I was clueless. I chose this book based on the strength of the Audible reviews - and now I’m going to add to that body of positive feedback.

It is the brilliant true story of a group of men who faced unbelievable hardships and overcame insane odds to survive in the most desolate conditions imaginable – and yet, it is the story of a failed venture.

Although I didn’t know how the story would end, I was pretty confident that there would be a reasonable number of survivors, as this book was based on the diaries of the protagonists. Obviously they might have died, and their diaries somehow survived, but that seemed unlikely.

They were planning to sail to Antarctica and then cross the continent on foot, but this never happened because their ship, the ‘Endurance’, was crushed by an ice floe before they ever reached the Antarctic mainland. They ended up living for a long time camped on a piece of ice floating in the freezing Antarctic Sea, never knowing when it might crack to pieces underneath them, hoping that it would drift towards land.

This was just the beginning of their ordeal. I won’t be a spoiler any more than this, but the conditions they endured and the stoical bravery they showed made me look on with admiration and awe. Highly Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Julian
  • 12-14-17

amazingly well told... fantastic story. inspiring

amazingly well told... fantastic story. inspiring.

I don't feel that I should ever complain about anything again

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  • N C Turnbull
  • 12-10-17

Brilliant

This is an extremely fine reading of an incredible and well written account would highly recommend!

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  • D
  • 12-07-17

An amazing tale if courage and survival against the odds

An inspiring and moving account , very well read. I would recommend this book to anyone not just those interested in polar exploration.

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  • Aron
  • 12-06-17

Truly awesome!

I have never had any heros before, but I do now. Shackleton and his men, without a doubt!

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  • MR M J ARCHER
  • 12-03-17

An astonishing read

Would you consider the audio edition of Endurance to be better than the print version?

Shakleton's story is a Boy's Own adventure that those of us of a certain age grew up with during our early school years, alongside Scott's ill-fated race to the pole. I knew little of this tale, only the headlines really, and came to understand the gritty detail through listening to this book. It's an outstanding, nail-biting, moving and almost unbelievable story which had me riveted for a few days on a recent business trip. I watched no movies on the long flights to Australia - none seemed to measure up - I just listened intently to this harrowing story of man's tenacity in his fight against nature, against unimaginable odds. Simon Prebble is a masterful narrator, not entirely comfortable with the various accents of the men involved but certainly he has the gravitas the story demands in its telling. Lansing's writing style dates the book too (first published in 1959) but it is so much better for it, employing words and sentence structures that seem to have been lost in our current obsession with brevity. I'd have been very happy for the book to roll on with a more detailed description of the latter part of the story but I'll research that some other time, and anyway the lack of it doesn't detract. Don't hesitate over this book. Get your ears around it - you won't be disappointed.

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  • Dave Pearson
  • 12-03-17

Gripping story, well told.

Any additional comments?

This is a well-known story of Antarctic survival, told here in some detail. The reader gives the events the gravity they need. Shackleton's men were not made like we in the 21st century are, they really could row an open boat in the wild Southern ocean for weeks on end, chipping the ice off the oars and themselves, sleeping on ballast rocks in the bilges, and all on a diet of about two biscuits and a teaspoon of water a day. Unbelievable.

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  • LindzK
  • 12-03-17

I don’t think I’ve ever given 5* to all aspects before!

It’s a true story and also how to review why it touched me so much without giving out ‘spoilers’.

Instead, I’ll talk about how it made me feel :
I was impressed that it was neither over sensationalised or boring. It was narrated well, and you got the feeling that nothing was added for theatrical drama.

It made me google all of the characters afterwards as they were all so intriguing!

It put me in in awe of human endeavour, and possibly (at times) human stupidity.

It warmed my heart, and feared my soul as to what those men went through.

A must read/listen for anyone, I guarantee you’ll take something from it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-02-17

Excellent storytelling

I cannot recommend this book enough. The story is fascinating and thoroughly gripping from start to finish. The writing is polished and lovely to listen to and the performance is wonderful as well. A really enjoyable book.

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  • JaneyKay
  • 12-02-17

Exhausted and emotional, I’ve just finished my voyage to Antarctica...

What a story. I’ve been listening to this for around 8 days. The pressure has been mounting ... I’ve been with Shackleton and the guys thru thick and through thin ... what an amazing adventure, what endurance. A lesson in leadership and survival.

A great book, well read. Thoroughly recommended.

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  • Beech buzz
  • 12-01-17

An incredible true story....

To hear the amazing tale is very inspiring. Well worth the purchase. The human spirit is incredible.