Racing with Death: Douglas Mawson - Antarctic Explorer

Racing with Death: Douglas Mawson - Antarctic Explorer


By (author) Beau Riffenburgh

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 153mm x 234mm
  • Publication date: 18 August 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0747580936
  • ISBN 13: 9780747580935
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations, maps, ports.
  • Sales rank: 1,191,860

Product description

The early twentieth century was the 'heroic age' of Antarctic exploration - a time when adventurers such as Scott and Shackleton were national icons who personified the contemporary ideal of manly struggle for the good of Empire. But, while these two are world famous to this day, Australian Douglas Mawson, whose Australasian Antarctic Expedition, undertaken in 1911 after Mawson had been a key member of Shackleton's Nimrod expedition, Dr Edmund Hillary described as 'the greatest survival story in the history of exploration', is not. He should be, however.Mawson's expedition, undertaken on a small whaling ship called Aurora, combines several exceptionally exciting elements. Once in the Antarctic, the expedition split up into smaller parties exploring different areas. The two other members of Mawson's party died and Mawson was left to struggle hundreds of miles back to base on his own. Despite incredible odds, he made it, only to find that the rescue ship had sailed away, leaving him to face a year on his own in the Antarctic. Mawson, who had complex relationships with both Scott and Shackleton, was changed utterly by his struggles in the Antarctic and his story is a fascinating insight into the human psyche under extreme stress.

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Author information

Beau Riffenburgh is an historian specialising in exploration, particularly that of the Antarctic, Arctic, and Africa. Born in California, he earned his doctorate at Cambridge University, following which he joined the staff at the Scott Polar Research Institute, where he served for 14 years as the editor of Polar Record. He is the author of the highly regarded Nimrod: Ernest Shackleton and the Extraordinary Story of the 1907-09 British Antarctic Expedition and The Myth of the Explorer. He also served as Editor of the Encyclopedia of the Antarctic.

Review quote

PRAISE FOR 'NIMROD' 'A masterful balance of true drama and first-rate scholarship. The narrative moves with the speed of a novel, while the author's unerring eye for historical detail captures the essence of polar exploration and explorers and locates Shackleton and his men in the grand scheme of empire.' Sir Ranulph Fiennes 'Beau Riffenburgh brilliantly brings this earlier one into focus in an account so vivid that we can almost feel the freezing temperatures ourselves.' Sunday Telegraph 'Gripping and superbly researched.' Max Jones, author of 'The Last Great Quest'