cover image SHACKLETON'S FORGOTTEN EXPEDITION: The Voyage of the Nimrod


Beau Riffenburgh, . . Bloomsbury, $25.95 (358pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-488-1

Ernest Shackleton's fame has been restored due to renewed interest in the heroic tale of the Endurance expedition, but his original celebrity status stemmed from an earlier voyage to the Antarctic from 1907 to 1909, during which he led a small group of men to within 97 miles of the South Pole. Riffenburgh (The Myth of the Explorer ) recounts this journey in riveting detail, describing how Shackleton and his crew survived under harrowing conditions, sometimes brought on by their own tactical misjudgments, like the decision to rely heavily on ponies to carry supplies across the frozen landscape. The story also offers vital clues to Shackleton's personality, revealing how he first went to the Antarctic in order to impress his girlfriend and, more importantly, examining the competitive rivalry between Shackleton and fellow explorer Sir Robert Scott. Scott had sent Shackleton home from an earlier expedition for health reasons, and when Shackleton vowed to return to Antarctica in part to prove he was strong enough to make it, Scott viewed it as a threat to his own plans and unfairly extracted a promise from his former crewman not to use "his" base camps, adding further complications to the journey. For those who thrilled to the Endurance saga, Riffenburgh offers an equally gripping adventure, which laid the foundations of Shackleton's capacity for brilliant leadership under pressure. Agent, A.M. Heath. (Nov.)