Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton PDF

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Fascinating non-fiction that offers analysis of a little known voyage undertaken by The Belgica at the end of the 19th century to do research of then still unchartered Antarctica. A powerful tale of stamina, determination, endurance and weaknesses.
For some inexplicable reasons I am into tales of men whose courage and determination allowed the cruellest places on our planet to be described and defined ….
A definite must for readers interested in polar exploration.

Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton PDF Free Download Details

  • Book Title: Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton PDF
  • Author: Julian Sancton
  • Published: May 4th 2021 by Crown
  • Goodreads Link: Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton PDF
  • ISBN: 1984824333 (ISBN13: 9781984824332)
  • Formats: [PDF] [Epub]
  • No. of pages: 354 pages
  • Size: 3MB
  • Genre: Nonfiction, History
  • Language: English
  • File Status: Available
  • Price: $0

Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton Summary

The harrowing true survival story of an early polar expedition that went terribly awry–with the ship frozen in ice and the crew trapped inside for the entire sunless, Antarctic winter–in the tradition of David Grann, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Hampton Sides

In August 1897, thirty-one-year-old commandant Adrien de Gerlache set sail aboard the Belgica, fueled by a profound sense of adventure and dreams of claiming glory for his native Belgium. His destination was the uncharted end of the earth: the icy continent of Antarctica. But the commandant’s plans for a three-year expedition to reach the magnetic South Pole would be thwarted at each turn. Before the ship cleared South America, it had already broken down, run aground, and lost several key crew members, leaving behind a group with dubious experience for such an ambitious voyage.

As the ship progressed into the freezing waters, the captain had to make a choice: turn back and spare his men the potentially devastating consequences of getting stuck, or recklessly sail deeper into the ice pack to chase glory and fame. He sailed on, and the Belgica soon found itself stuck fast in the icy hold of the Antarctic continent. The ship would winter on the ice. Plagued by a mysterious, debilitating illness and besieged by the monotony of their days, the crew deteriorated as their confinement in suffocating close quarters wore on and their hope of escape dwindled daily. As winter approached the days grew shorter, until the sun set on the magnificent polar landscape one last time, condemning the ship’s occupants to months of quarantine in an endless night.

Forged in fire and carved by ice, Antarctica proved a formidable opponent for the motley crew. Among them was Frederick Cook, an American doctor–part scientist, part adventurer, part P.T. Barnum–whose unorthodox methods delivered many of the crew from the gruesome symptoms of scurvy and whose relentless optimism buoyed their spirits through the long, dark polar night. Then there was Roald Amundsen, a young Norwegian who went on to become a storied polar explorer in his own right, exceeding de Gerlache’s wildest dreams by leading the first expeditions to traverse the Northwest Passage and reach the South Pole.

Drawing on firsthand accounts of the Belgica’s voyage and exclusive access to the ship’s logbook, Sancton tells the tale of its long, isolated imprisonment on the ice–a story that NASA studies today in its research on isolation for missions to Mars. In vivid, hair-raising prose, Sancton recounts the myriad forces that drove these men right up to and over the brink of madness.

Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton Review

Review by Kate Southey from Goodreads

This book was incredible! Julian Sancton manages to include meticulous research and authentic scientific and maritime details while making the book read like a ‘ripping yarn’. I am so glad that this story has finally been told in English as it wasn’t an expedition I was familiar with. Having read fairly widely about John Franklin and Erabus and Shackleton it was breathtaking to read of a ship that survived a polar winter. Despite knowing the outcome of the expedition I was still on the edge of my seat, reading feverishly to find out if they would manage to free Belgica from the ice.
De Gerlache was a tricky ‘hero’ for me, clearly an incredible seaman but so driven by pride that almost every decision he made was the wrong one. Amundsen and Cook were my heroes but it was sad to see that neither lived up to their early promise. That said, both were leagues ahead of De Gerlache and the rest of the crew in terms of their ability to innovate and adapt to the conditions they encountered. I will forever wonder what would have happened had they gone ahead with their plan to find the pole before returning to Belgium in 1900. It was fascinating to read Cook’s hypotheses about the affects of lack of sunlight on the crew and how he single handedly saved the crew from scurvy by using knowledge gained from Inuits in the Northern Polar regions.
A must read book for anyone interested in polar exploration and geographic discovery.

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