In a genre packed with tales of derring-do, there are few to match that of Shackleton’s epic boat journey. There are few explorers, too, who have been the subject of such universal and uncritical adulation. Forgotten amidst the hype, however, are the flaws that underpinned his heroism. He was the architect of his own disaster: he wouldn’t have had to rescue his men if he hadn’t stranded them in the first place. True, he was a brave man. But if one considers the expedition as a whole, he was also an adventurer whose slipshod planning displayed a woefully cavalier attitude to human life. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Kelly Tyler-Lewis’s The Lost Men.
To set the scene: having been beaten to the South Pole by his rival Scott, Shackleton went for the next most glorious thing, the first traverse of Antarctica. He and his trans-polar party would take the Endurance to the shores of the Weddell Sea from where they would sledge to