I listened to this alternately as I listened to “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and I think the two made an interesting and insightful contrast. While I don’t generally find pure adventure stories all that interesting (there are only so many things that can go wrong, and after awhile you kind of get the gist), this was different because it’s a true story. I considered how much these poor men went through–and how the worst of it, I would think, would have been the interminable perseverance required, day in and day out, never knowing when or if it would end. (“Endurance” was such a perfect name for their ship!) Each day was filled with a myriad of miseries great and small, with utter boredom and probably a sense of total purposelessness, since they were accomplishing nothing save their own survival. They didn’t even succeed in what they’d set out to do, which was to map Antarctica. One thing after another went wrong, as months turned into years. They overcame one obstacle only to be confronted by another. And yet… not a single man lost his life, from 1914-1917, for most of that time stranded in perhaps the most inhospitable place on earth.
What’s fascinating to me is that, while each day may have felt pointless to Shackleton and his men, their endurance *was* their accomplishment. It’s actually what Shackleton is most remembered for in all his life–at least I think so, as I’d never otherwise heard of him before–even though technically, his mission was a failure. In light of Frankl’s book, they were living for a purpose: to survive, and to do all they could to ensure the survival of the others as well.
My rating: ****
Sexual content: none
Violence: there’s one amputation without anesthesia, but it’s not graphic
Political content: none (though how fascinating that they were gone for almost the duration of WWI! What a different world they would have come home to!)