Marsh Biography Award

1987 - Roland Huntford for "Shackleton"

Roland Huntford won the 1987 Marsh Biography Award for “Shackleton”.

Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Anglo-Irish explorer, never achieved his goal of reaching the South Pole, though he was knighted in 1909 for having come within 100 miles. With bravery matched only by his theatricality, Shackleton sought to top that accomplishment by landing on one side of Antarctica and traveling the width of the icy continent by sledge. What might have been a great exploratory journey turned into a raw struggle for survival when his ship became trapped in pack ice, and he was forced to lead his team on a desperate trek across hundreds of miles of the world's most dangerous terrain. He made it home, but even his stature as one of Edwardian England's greatest heroes could not save Shackleton from financial risk taking; he ended his life mired in debt.

Roland Huntford's biography presents a balanced and lively portrait of a man who was, depending on which of his contemporaries you asked, a national hero or a contemptible rogue. --Robert McNamara

This is an utterly absorbing biography ... moves one to tears of relief, joy and blind wonder (Allan Massie )

Expertly handled and written ... makes extensive uncensored use of the diaries written at the time (The Economist)

Unlikely to be superseded (Robert Fox, Listener)

Magnificent ... Huntford has done justice to this great and complex man. That, in itself, is a triumph (Sunday Times)


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