Ernest Shackleton is one of history’s great explorers, an extraordinary character who pioneered the path to the South Pole over 100 years ago and became a dominant figure in Antarctic discovery. A charismatic personality, his incredible adventures on four expeditions have captivated generations and inspired a dynamic, modern following in business leadership. None more so than the Endurance mission, where Shackleton’s commanding presence saved the lives of his crew when their ship was crushed by ice and they were turned out on to the savage frozen landscape. But Shackleton was a flawed character whose chaotic private life, marked by romantic affairs, unfulfilled ambitions, overwhelming debts and failed business ventures, contrasted with his celebrity status as a leading explorer.
Drawing on extensive research of original diaries and personal correspondence, Michael Smith's definitive biography brings a fresh perspective to our understanding of this complex man and the heroic age of polar exploration.
‘timely and thorough… as a buccaneering Edwardian adventurer, as chaotic and hapless in his private life as he was dynamic in his public exploits, [Shackleton] is rescued by Michael Smith’s genial biography as a flawed, enduring inspiration.’
– The Times
'A rich volume, written in a passionate, engaging style that makes it a compelling read, full of nuanced conclusions about many of Shackleton’s formative life moments, and meticulously researched, as with all of Michael Smith’s work.'
– Irish Times
‘Absorb[ing]… a fair and rounded picture of a man who was a great companion and leader in a tight corner but possibly better viewed across an iceberg than across a boardroom table or a martial bedroom’
– Country Life
‘a fresh perspective… very readable… Smith’s research has uncovered some interesting side stories’
– Good Book Guide
'fast-moving and gripping… Michael Smith’s biography shows us a complex multi-faceted man’
– Scottish Review of Books
‘Diligently researched with extensive quotation… a welcome addition to the library of the polar aficionado’
– Literary Review
‘Smith’s research is detailed and meticulous… fascinating… [He] tells [the story] with passion and commitment.’
– History Revealed
"The epic struggles, heroics and unbelieveable hardships of the voyages are wonderfully told. Compulsive reading."
– The Irish Times on An Unsung Hero
‘A fascinating book - warm, complex, engaging – just like the man himself. This absorbing new biography strips away the myths and misconceptions to reveal one of the twentieth century’s most important explorers in all his flawed genius.’
– Mick Conefrey, author of Everest, 1953
'Perhaps the most riveting biography I've ever read.'