Astonishing. Inspiring. Barely believable. This is a case study in the lifesaving value of tenacity. The early days of Antarctic exploration were about 100 years ago. Ernest Shakleton and his men made several expeditions down to the great southern continent in this period, all of which are worthy of mention, but the final voyage is beyond extraordinary: Once down in Antarctic waters, their ship, the Endurance, became entrapped in the ice, which eventually destroyed the vessel. Shackleton and his men escaped in open-air rowboats with minimal provisions. Living in temperatures down to -60F, with 1914 technology, it is astonishing the men didn't freeze to death. They were able to subsist by fishing, and catching penguins... which they could literally walk up to and pick up, as the birds had never seen humans before, and had not developed a weary precaution of us. Fresh water was obtained by melting snow. Really the main precious resource was firewood. When it became clear the Endurance was not salvagable as a means of transportation, it at least provided a life-sustaining source of firewood... for a while. When the austral Springtime arrived, there was no question that rescue was impossible, and the party's only hope of survival was to strike out into the open ocean in Endurance's lifeboats. In an astounding feat of navigation, they manage to find their way up to Elephant Island, where they subside on penguins and fish. It soon becomes clear that the group's only hope for survival lies in contacting the nearest civilization on King George's Island- 700 miles away. Astoundingly, the men make it, but wash up on the unsettled side of the island. Their treck is not over, rather they still need to endure a painful overland journey through uncharted mountains. Eventually they reach "civilization" (a miniscule fishing village populated by barely a handful of fishermen) to go back and rescue the others.I was on Elephant Island for a day, during the Austral summer, and it is beyond all comprehension to me that a group of men survived there in the open air during the Antarctic autumn. After reading this book, it is clear Shackleton deserves an altar in the pantheon of explorers.