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By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon , a powerful true story of adventure and obsession in the Antarctic, lavishly illustrated with color photographs Henry Worsley was a devoted husband and father and a decorated British special forces officer who believed in honor and sacrifice. He was also a man obsessed. He spent his life ido By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon , a powerful true story of adventure and obsession in the Antarctic, lavishly illustrated with color photographs Henry Worsley was a devoted husband and father and a decorated British special forces officer who believed in honor and sacrifice. He was also a man obsessed. He spent his life idolizing Ernest Shackleton, the nineteenth-century polar explorer, who tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole, and later sought to cross Antarctica on foot. Shackleton never completed his journeys, but he repeatedly rescued his men from certain death, and emerged as one of the greatest leaders in history. Worsley felt an overpowering connection to those expeditions. He was related to one of Shackleton's men, Frank Worsley, and spent a fortune collecting artifacts from their epic treks across the continent. He modeled his military command on Shackleton's legendary skills and was determined to measure his own powers of endurance against them. He would succeed where Shackleton had failed, in the most brutal landscape in the world. In 2008, Worsley set out across Antarctica with two other descendants of Shackleton's crew, battling the freezing, desolate landscape, life-threatening physical exhaustion, and hidden crevasses. Yet when he returned home he felt compelled to go back. On November 2015, at age 55, Worsley bid farewell to his family and embarked on his most perilous quest: to walk across Antarctica alone. David Grann tells Worsley's remarkable story with the intensity and power that have led him to be called "simply the best narrative nonfiction writer working today." Illustrated with more than fifty stunning photographs from Worsley's and Shackleton's journeys, The White Darkness is both a gorgeous keepsake volume and a spellbinding story of courage, love, and a man pushing himself to the extremes of human capacity.


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By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon , a powerful true story of adventure and obsession in the Antarctic, lavishly illustrated with color photographs Henry Worsley was a devoted husband and father and a decorated British special forces officer who believed in honor and sacrifice. He was also a man obsessed. He spent his life ido By the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon , a powerful true story of adventure and obsession in the Antarctic, lavishly illustrated with color photographs Henry Worsley was a devoted husband and father and a decorated British special forces officer who believed in honor and sacrifice. He was also a man obsessed. He spent his life idolizing Ernest Shackleton, the nineteenth-century polar explorer, who tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole, and later sought to cross Antarctica on foot. Shackleton never completed his journeys, but he repeatedly rescued his men from certain death, and emerged as one of the greatest leaders in history. Worsley felt an overpowering connection to those expeditions. He was related to one of Shackleton's men, Frank Worsley, and spent a fortune collecting artifacts from their epic treks across the continent. He modeled his military command on Shackleton's legendary skills and was determined to measure his own powers of endurance against them. He would succeed where Shackleton had failed, in the most brutal landscape in the world. In 2008, Worsley set out across Antarctica with two other descendants of Shackleton's crew, battling the freezing, desolate landscape, life-threatening physical exhaustion, and hidden crevasses. Yet when he returned home he felt compelled to go back. On November 2015, at age 55, Worsley bid farewell to his family and embarked on his most perilous quest: to walk across Antarctica alone. David Grann tells Worsley's remarkable story with the intensity and power that have led him to be called "simply the best narrative nonfiction writer working today." Illustrated with more than fifty stunning photographs from Worsley's and Shackleton's journeys, The White Darkness is both a gorgeous keepsake volume and a spellbinding story of courage, love, and a man pushing himself to the extremes of human capacity.

30 review for The White Darkness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 I have such a fascination with books set in places that are excessively cold and snow laden. Not sure why that is, especially since I don't really want to live in these places, and due to health reasons will probably never even get to visit. I also find intriguing people who do dangerous and near impossible things. I try to figure out the mindset of people who feel compelled to take these risks. I'm not very adventurous, was more so when I was younger, but not to some extreme extent. Worsley, 3.5 I have such a fascination with books set in places that are excessively cold and snow laden. Not sure why that is, especially since I don't really want to live in these places, and due to health reasons will probably never even get to visit. I also find intriguing people who do dangerous and near impossible things. I try to figure out the mindset of people who feel compelled to take these risks. I'm not very adventurous, was more so when I was younger, but not to some extreme extent. Worsley, who idiolized Shackleton, was a descendant of one of the men on his crew, and was a British special Forces Officer. With two other men, also descendants of Shackletons crew, set off to complete the journey in Antartica that Shackleton was unable to complete. This mission would not be enough, there would be another trip, and then at the last when Worsley attempts to walk across Antartica on a solo trip. The writing is very detailed, the pictures aid the reader along with the descriptions to feel as if they were at times along for the journey. The book is rather short, and moves quickly. There are interesting touches of his personal life, his wife, son and daughter, how they felt about his journeys. Quotes from Shackleton and a few brief mentions of Prince William presenting the men with a signed Union Jack flag. A look at a brave man who felt compelled to accomplish the impossible. ARC from Edelweiss.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tucker

    3.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    My obsession with Antarctic explorers began when I was eleven and read The Great White South by Herbert Ponting, the photographer on the 1911 Scott expedition. As a girl, I held a heroic idealization of Scott and his men freezing in their hut. It seemed all so heroic, then. Later readings lowered Scott in my estimation. Henry Worsley idolized Ernest Shackleton for his courage and leadership. Although Shackleton was never able to complete his expeditions, he did save his men's lives. And Worsley' My obsession with Antarctic explorers began when I was eleven and read The Great White South by Herbert Ponting, the photographer on the 1911 Scott expedition. As a girl, I held a heroic idealization of Scott and his men freezing in their hut. It seemed all so heroic, then. Later readings lowered Scott in my estimation. Henry Worsley idolized Ernest Shackleton for his courage and leadership. Although Shackleton was never able to complete his expeditions, he did save his men's lives. And Worsley's own grandfather had been with Shackleton on his failed expedition to the reach the South Pole. Henry made a career in the army, completing Special Forces training while pursuing his obsession by collecting Shackleton artifacts. The White Darkness by David Grann tells the story of how Henry Worsley, after retirement from the army, participated in a centennial expedition retracing Shackleton's trek, along with two other descendants of the original team. The goal was to reach the South Pole, which Shackleton failed to do. They made it. Not content with this achievement, Henry afterward endeavored to complete the other journey that Shackleton had to abandon: crossing the Antarctic. Henry, though, would do it solo. Once again, I am amazed how men can be driven to endure the unimaginable physical stress of the Antarctic, not just once, but returning again to the dangerous beauty of ice. A hundred years ago men wanted to bring honor to their country and the Antarctic and Arctic were the last unexplored places on earth. But there has always been something more, a need for men to test themselves to the ultimate, to conquer the most extreme conditions imaginable In this short book about Henry Worsley, Grann covers the history of Antarctic exploration and conveys a chilling exposure to the 'white darkness' of the freezing desert landscape that has lured so many men to their deaths. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    A riveting true story of Henry Worsley, a born leader and man obsessed with exploring the challenging, breathtakingly beautiful terrain of Antarctica, following in the footsteps of his idol Ernest Shackleton. I immediately became immersed in this remarkable story. Worsley’s notes and recorded telecommunications of his exploration are pieced together expertly by David Grann, never dragging with details. Photos are included in all the right places. Worsley’s first exploration leading a courageous A riveting true story of Henry Worsley, a born leader and man obsessed with exploring the challenging, breathtakingly beautiful terrain of Antarctica, following in the footsteps of his idol Ernest Shackleton. I immediately became immersed in this remarkable story. Worsley’s notes and recorded telecommunications of his exploration are pieced together expertly by David Grann, never dragging with details. Photos are included in all the right places. Worsley’s first exploration leading a courageous crew through this brutal and unforgiving landscape and a separate solo journey years later both took my breath away. It never ceases to amaze me what a human body and mind can endure and when they decide ‘no more’. I was overcome with emotion nearing the final pages. Worsley sacrificed so much to make his dreams reality. My heart went out to his wife and children.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    I reckon I lost about three miles' distance today from snaking around, head permanently bowed to read the compass, just my shuffling skis to look at for nine hours. Anyway, I'm back on track and now happy I can part a straight line, even through another day of the white darkness. ~ Radio broadcast by Henry Worsley, two weeks into a solo transantarctic crossing Author David Grann is known for spinning fascinating narrative nonfiction (as with Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z), and I reckon I lost about three miles' distance today from snaking around, head permanently bowed to read the compass, just my shuffling skis to look at for nine hours. Anyway, I'm back on track and now happy I can part a straight line, even through another day of the white darkness. ~ Radio broadcast by Henry Worsley, two weeks into a solo transantarctic crossing Author David Grann is known for spinning fascinating narrative nonfiction (as with Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z), and frequent readers of his essays in The New Yorker might well assume that whatever is intriguing Grann at the moment will eventually be spun into a tale that will intrigue them, too. Even so, I found The White Darkness to be a little thin – at only 140 pages, including dozens of beautiful full page photographs, I really don't think that Grann made full use of what is, in fact, a potentially spellbinding tale. (And, in fact, I don't know that the book much improves upon Grann's original article on Worsley's story in The New Yorker.) The pictures in this slim volume, however, are admittedly stunning. The format of the story is well chosen – We begin with Henry Worsley as he struggles to do what no one has done before: cross the continent of Antarctica by his own power, with no outside help, no prearranged food caches along the way, or even a cup of tea at the South Pole station that he passes en route. As his body weakens and his stomach cramps, Worsley must consider the lessons of the two earliest South Pole explorers who have fascinated him all of his life: Sir Ernest Shackleton, who turned back when a couple days short of the South Pole in order to get his men home safely; and Captain Robert Scott, who eventually did reach the Pole, and died alongside his crew on the return trip. The question Worsley must answer for himself: Is it truly better to be a live donkey than a dead lion? The book then goes over a very brief history of Antarctic exploration, followed by a very brief history of Henry Worsley's life: he was always intrigued by tales of South Pole exploration, was fascinated to learn that he is distantly related to one of Shackleton's crew, joined the British army and did two tours with the SAS. When one of Shackleton's descendants reached out to ask Worsley if he'd like to join him and another early explorer's descendant to attempt to complete the trek to the South Pole at the centenary of their ancestors' failed attempt, Worsley jumped at the chance. The book covers that trip, a later polar trek that Worsley joins, and eventually, after Worsley ages out of the army at 55 and promises his family that his dream of a solo Antarctic crossing would be the last time he ever left them, we rejoin the story from the beginning: trudging along with Worsley as he skis and hikes and tows his sledge, avoiding crevasses, and making his solitary way through the mind- and muscle-numbing white darkness. There's plenty of meat here for a full-length book, and I feel like Grann sold the story short; I do not feel fulfilled by this. Naturally, I kept reading to learn of Worsley's fate, but I would have happily stayed in this icebound world for quite a while longer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3.75 stars There is not a thing that I have read by this author that I did not like. Grann tells it like it is, leaving you to decide whether you like the story or not. But always non-fiction and compelling. He is diverse in his projects, from the Amazon to Kitty Hawk to the Osage Indian tribe, his knowledge is vast. Now in the Antarctic he gives us a heartbreaking tale of one man's lifetime dream. This short book not only tells us the dreams of Henry Worley, but also details the exploits of Worl 3.75 stars There is not a thing that I have read by this author that I did not like. Grann tells it like it is, leaving you to decide whether you like the story or not. But always non-fiction and compelling. He is diverse in his projects, from the Amazon to Kitty Hawk to the Osage Indian tribe, his knowledge is vast. Now in the Antarctic he gives us a heartbreaking tale of one man's lifetime dream. This short book not only tells us the dreams of Henry Worley, but also details the exploits of Worleys hero, Ernest Shackleton, who attempted to be the first to walk to the South Pole. Worley being related to one of Shackleton's team mates was obsessed with what they had attempted. So obsessed that, after other trips in Antarctica, Worley set out alone in 2015 to walk across the broad expanse of the bone chilling icy continent. An unforgettable entry into one man's dream, by an outstanding author.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Nothing about Ernest Shackleton's story would make me want to replicate his expedition crossing Antarctica, but Henry Worsley wanted to do just that, but alone. He wasn't deterred by the fact that Shackleton's journey was an epic failure. I guess "adventurer" is just another word for "idiot". I suggest reading one of the books about Shackleton rather than this one, unless you just want to read a book about suffering in the cold. Both Shackleton himself and his trek were more interesting than any Nothing about Ernest Shackleton's story would make me want to replicate his expedition crossing Antarctica, but Henry Worsley wanted to do just that, but alone. He wasn't deterred by the fact that Shackleton's journey was an epic failure. I guess "adventurer" is just another word for "idiot". I suggest reading one of the books about Shackleton rather than this one, unless you just want to read a book about suffering in the cold. Both Shackleton himself and his trek were more interesting than anything in this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    This gem of a book details the Antarctic expeditions of Harry Worsley, who modeled himself on the leadership of explorer Ernest Shackleton. While the book is small at 146 pages, it is perfect as a gift for inspiration and/or admiration.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley You might not recognize Henry Worsley’s name, but you mostly likely have heard the story. At the end of 2015-the beginning of 2016, he attempted to cross Antarctica alone, but sicken, was airlifted, and, sadly, died while doctors while trying to save his life. His quest, done in part as a fundraiser, was followed by the media and classrooms. He received support from the royal family. If you are like me, you were impressed by the drive and the attempt, but also wonde Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley You might not recognize Henry Worsley’s name, but you mostly likely have heard the story. At the end of 2015-the beginning of 2016, he attempted to cross Antarctica alone, but sicken, was airlifted, and, sadly, died while doctors while trying to save his life. His quest, done in part as a fundraiser, was followed by the media and classrooms. He received support from the royal family. If you are like me, you were impressed by the drive and the attempt, but also wondering why. David Grann’s White Darkness does a good job at answering a question whose best answer till now has been “because it’s there”. Grann is perhaps the best teller of true stories working right now. This short book showcases his shorter work (the story appeared in The New Yorker), and proves that his short profiles can be just as riveting. As Grann notes, Worsley was obsessed with Shackleton an artic explorer who is better know for his failures where people didn’t starve to death than anything else. Unlike Amundsen who made it or Scott who died the stiff upper lip way, Shackleton got his people home. Worsley’s obsession seems in part because of a family connection (his ancestor Frank worked with Shackleton). In fact, prior to his solo attempt, Worsley had done a three-person hike with Will Gow (a descendent of Shackleton) and Henry Adams (a grandson of Jameson Boyd). Worsley’s obsession too does seem to be a case of hero-worship, he makes on interesting pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave. Grann presents a quick overview of Worsley’s life, giving the reader a sense of who was lost, and not just a vague or abstract tragedy. While Grann never says, this is why, he does a great job of allowing the reader to get a sense of the drive and determination that fueled Worsley’s quest, but also to see the family that supported him. The long essay is supplemented by photos, and the tone itself is one of remembrance, but more peaceful or comprehensive than an obituary.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Somayeh Pourtalari

    داستان سفر هنرلی ورزلی از این سر تا آن سر جنوبگان، قارهی قطب جنوب. داستانی که هر لحظه اش شما را به فکر وا میدارد . به فکر این که کجا ایستاده اید و برای تحقق رویاهاتان چه کرده اید ... در یک کلام فوق العاده بود ❤ داستان سفر هنرلی ورزلی از این سر تا آن سر جنوبگان، قاره‌ی قطب جنوب. داستانی که هر لحظه اش شما را به فکر وا میدارد . به فکر این که کجا ایستاده اید و برای تحقق رویاهاتان چه کرده اید ... در یک کلام فوق العاده بود ❤️

  11. 4 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    The day before I read the book dry, this book was the contrast I was seeking. Knowing nothing of the outcome I was awestruck by his endeavors, but the mood shifted and I prayed the tonal difference I felt was wrong... alas, tears were dripping down my cheeks at the close. I am truly awestruck at man's endeavors, it was humbling to read in the comfort of my warm cozy bed. Loved the photos, you could feel the sting and exhaustion every step of the way. An incredible lifetime of journeys unfathomab The day before I read the book dry, this book was the contrast I was seeking. Knowing nothing of the outcome I was awestruck by his endeavors, but the mood shifted and I prayed the tonal difference I felt was wrong... alas, tears were dripping down my cheeks at the close. I am truly awestruck at man's endeavors, it was humbling to read in the comfort of my warm cozy bed. Loved the photos, you could feel the sting and exhaustion every step of the way. An incredible lifetime of journeys unfathomable.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Heather Fineisen

    This story about Henry Worsley and his quest to follow Shackleton' s footsteps to the Antarctica covers two expeditions, the second solo. Biographical information is solid and you want Worsley to succeed. Those interested in Shackleton will be intrigued. Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley

  13. 4 out of 5

    KateNZ

    This was a beautiful book, and completely inspirational despite the tragedies at its heart. People who think about Antarctic explorers often focus on Scott (especially here in New Zealand, perhaps, since our Antarctic research station is named after him). But Shackleton has always intrigued me more, because his amazing leadership was instrumental in saving the lives of all his crew (though he lost his own) after their ship, Endurance became entangled in pack ice. One of that crew - who steered a This was a beautiful book, and completely inspirational despite the tragedies at its heart. People who think about Antarctic explorers often focus on Scott (especially here in New Zealand, perhaps, since our Antarctic research station is named after him). But Shackleton has always intrigued me more, because his amazing leadership was instrumental in saving the lives of all his crew (though he lost his own) after their ship, Endurance became entangled in pack ice. One of that crew - who steered a 1,300 km course with Shackleton and one other man in a lifeboat to South Georgia to get help - was the ship's captain, a Kiwi mariner called Frank Worsley. And the subject of this book is Frank's descendant, British army officer Henry Worsley, who was inspired by Shackleton, developed leadership skills to rival those of his hero, and who was determined to complete Shackleton's unfinished Antarctic expeditions, in honour of the great man. This concisely and beautifully written treasure of a book is more than a factual account of various expeditions - it explores what drives people to bear hardships that most of us would find inconceivable. It seems to be about more than being first at something (though that is a major driver for many) - it's about pushing every physical and mental boundary to see what happens; how you'll respond, how others respond, whether you can defy the odds and survive to defy some more. It's something so deep in the soul that the person is always leaning towards it like a plant growing towards the sun, regardless of how happy they are in other aspects of their lives. I was also in awe of Henry Worsley's family, who freed him to be himself despite their fears for him and the fact they had to put some of their own dreams on hold while he was away. If you're inclined to pick this up, make sure you read a version that has all the illustrations in it. This little volume contains some of the most beautiful photographs that I've ever seen of Antarctica.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Within the pages of The White Darkness you will find a true narrative of Henry Worsley, a man in possession of grit, fortitude, and never giving up. All clearly layered out by a writer that does these tellings of lives, complexities, and struggles, so well. He defines Henry Worsley’s great character up against the Antartica, the white darkness a test of it and his life. “As is true of many adventurers, he seemed to be on an inward quest as much as an outward one—the journey was a way to subject him Within the pages of The White Darkness you will find a true narrative of Henry Worsley, a man in possession of grit, fortitude, and never giving up. All clearly layered out by a writer that does these tellings of lives, complexities, and struggles, so well. He defines Henry Worsley’s great character up against the Antartica, the white darkness a test of it and his life. “As is true of many adventurers, he seemed to be on an inward quest as much as an outward one—the journey was a way to subject himself to an ultimate test of character.” Empowerment reading within. In that blanket of whiteness, the endless white into the beyond, treading through freezing conditions with no clear sign of end, onwards with sheer determination. This is a biographical read but also a motivational and a self-help read, that lets the read empathically understand that everyone have their own Antarctica to battle, to see through, to adopt fortitude, and fight through disappointment and failure, and persevere through. David Grann has written many great works on lives and roads, tales of adventure against odds, and this exceptional work pieces together research and great photos contributed by Worsley’s wife, Joanna. A biography that may stay close to you heart and mind, whilst in warmth and comforts, and reflecting upon one mans survival against the bitter extremes of cold. Review with excerpts video short @ https://more2read.com/review/the-whit...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    I love this little article-expanded-into-a-book idea - even more so when a writer as fine as David Grann is behind it. This portrait of Henry Worsley and the Antarctic obsession is brilliant, perfectly told and researched, and it never overstays its welcome. Some of the pictures feel like filler, and the slim size makes it debatable whether the book really nails a sense of closure by the ending, but this feels like the future of publishing to me. We just need to make the price more reasonable.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kmalbie

    This is a quick, inspirational Christmas morning read for both young and old! I loved this book. I'm old and need to be reminded these days of true leaders and adventurers. One of the best parts of this book, besides the flat out courage and commitment of these explorers, were the inspirational quotes from some great leaders (including Shackleton himself) that actually impacted behavior. I'm okay with the hero (they all have a touch of obsessive insanity), I long to hear from anyone who practice This is a quick, inspirational Christmas morning read for both young and old! I loved this book. I'm old and need to be reminded these days of true leaders and adventurers. One of the best parts of this book, besides the flat out courage and commitment of these explorers, were the inspirational quotes from some great leaders (including Shackleton himself) that actually impacted behavior. I'm okay with the hero (they all have a touch of obsessive insanity), I long to hear from anyone who practices what they preach, I yearn to observe personal integrity as a goal. I should add that I do enjoy Grann's straightforward writing style.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Watts

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The White Darkness follows Henry Worsley on his two (!!!) treks through Antarctica to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Ernest Shakleton. I learned a lot about the continent and about how grueling it is to even spend a day there, let alone months at a time. Worsley is brave, driven, and admirable. This is a must read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Helen Dunn

    This is a rather short book detailing the polar expeditions of Henry Worsley and it’s filled with stunning photographs of Antarctica from Worsley’s trips and historical photos from Shackleton’s expeditions in the early 1900s. If you like adventure, nature and endurance sports like I do, this book is probably a winner. If those things don’t interest you, this could come off as a bore. I love to read books about this type of person: those who climb Everest, run Badwater, traverse the Amazon, etc an This is a rather short book detailing the polar expeditions of Henry Worsley and it’s filled with stunning photographs of Antarctica from Worsley’s trips and historical photos from Shackleton’s expeditions in the early 1900s. If you like adventure, nature and endurance sports like I do, this book is probably a winner. If those things don’t interest you, this could come off as a bore. I love to read books about this type of person: those who climb Everest, run Badwater, traverse the Amazon, etc and I’m glad they do these crazy things but they are all crazy indeed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    In typical David Grann fashion he delivers an extraordinary tale that reads like fiction while stilll capturing the true spirit of the story he is telling. It is an unbelievably quick read accompanied by color photographs that assist in taking you on a journey across the Antarctic alongside the indomitable Henry Worsley. Definitely another addition to the Grann collection that solidifies him as my favorite non-fiction writer.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    David Grann has been one of my favorite New Yorker reporters for years, ever since I read his "Trial by Fire," a fascinating look at a case of arson, written with fantastic verve and twists and turns. I've since enjoyed almost everything he's done, especially the stories on men's obsessions that take them to dark places. The White Darkness is another great job of reporting, originally published in The New Yorker, and I'm thrilled it is being published in book form. In The White Darkness Grann tak David Grann has been one of my favorite New Yorker reporters for years, ever since I read his "Trial by Fire," a fascinating look at a case of arson, written with fantastic verve and twists and turns. I've since enjoyed almost everything he's done, especially the stories on men's obsessions that take them to dark places. The White Darkness is another great job of reporting, originally published in The New Yorker, and I'm thrilled it is being published in book form. In The White Darkness Grann takes us to Antarctica, following the obsession of Henry Worsley, who, in 2015, at 55 years old, embarked on a solo venture across Antarctica, hoping to follow the course that his hero, Sir Ernest Shackleton, tried and failed to conquer 100 years prior. To tell this story, Grann spends a good amount of time looking at Shackleton's own journeys, looking at why Worsley thought he was an admirable leader. Grann also looks at Worsley's prior visits to Antarctica, in 2008 and 2011, when he successfully retraced other famous Antarctic exploration routes from 100 years prior. These are fascinating stories of human planning, training, endurance, and foolhardiness. It makes you wonder the purpose of it all. At the same time, it is entirely understandable. There is beauty in exploration and testing humanity. There is wonder on earth. The White Darkness also asks, What is failure? Shackleton, after all, relatively close to his destination, called off his own trans-Antarctic venture. He and his crew survived. In contrast, Shackleton's contemporary and competitor Robert Scott, the second (just five weeks after Amundsen) to make it to the South Pole, is often criticized for not giving up, losing himself and his crew in 1912. Worsley has to fight this demon when times get dark: does he fail to meet his destination and thus succeed in surviving, like his hero, or does he stubbornly push himself across the threshold that will lead to his demise?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Mansfield

    This review covers the essay found in Feb 12/19 of "The New yorker" I don't usually review essays but David Grann is an author whose books I'll always read. This is a marvellous look at the life story of Henry Worsley, a descendant of one of the members of Ernest Shackleton's crew. Worsley is an adventurous explorer by nature and among his many exploits he came up with the idea of following in Shackleton's last footsteps with two other Shackleton descendants and later to cross the southernmost co This review covers the essay found in Feb 12/19 of "The New yorker" I don't usually review essays but David Grann is an author whose books I'll always read. This is a marvellous look at the life story of Henry Worsley, a descendant of one of the members of Ernest Shackleton's crew. Worsley is an adventurous explorer by nature and among his many exploits he came up with the idea of following in Shackleton's last footsteps with two other Shackleton descendants and later to cross the southernmost continent solo. David Grann writes non-fiction like a novel. His flowing narrative is as captivating as his readers have come to expect. I'd never heard of Worsley before but am a great reader concerning exploration of either pole.

  22. 4 out of 5

    KC

    Nineteenth century explorer Ernest Shackelton was unsuccessful in reaching the south pole but was still hailed a hero for returning with his entire crew. Former decorated British special forces officer, Henry Wosley had a life long obsession with Shackelton and made it his life's mission to succeed where the man he idealized failed. Harrowing, inspirational and immensely tragic, this small book packed a huge punch. David Grann is an exceptional story teller.

  23. 5 out of 5

    KWinks

    Excellent one sitting read about a modern day polar explorer and his calling. Accompanied by fantastic photographs, Worsley's story is engrossing. I was a little chilly the entire time I read it, but loved every second of it. Perfect for a winter evening's read by the fire.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kari Ann Sweeney

    "Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I picked up this short book (2 1/2 hrs. on audio) after hearing about it on the What Should I Read Next podcast with Anne Bogel and Ann Kingman. I am fascinated by the Antarctic. This book confirmed my assumptions of its vast, unparalleled beauty and its treacherous, unpredictable dangers. I would love to read more on the topic, so please send any recommendations my way.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Never wanted to go to Antarctica and this book reconfirmed that thought.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Read this book in a couple of hours. Yes, it is a short book, but also impossible to put down. Great story and very well written. Left me wanting more.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karenbike Patterson

    I've always loved books about explorers. I get why people call them crazy and obsessed. Henry Worsley is a fine example. His hero/mentor was Shakelton. He studied him extensively then then set up an expedition with two others to follow Shakelton's route and make it beyond where he stopped so that they could achieve the south pole. They kept diaries and also made satellite calls heard around the world. After the successful goal was set, Worsley set about a solo expedition across the continent- mo I've always loved books about explorers. I get why people call them crazy and obsessed. Henry Worsley is a fine example. His hero/mentor was Shakelton. He studied him extensively then then set up an expedition with two others to follow Shakelton's route and make it beyond where he stopped so that they could achieve the south pole. They kept diaries and also made satellite calls heard around the world. After the successful goal was set, Worsley set about a solo expedition across the continent- more than 900 nautical miles. Both trips were devastating but the solo trip was really bad and Worsley had to be rescued and flown back to Chili of the solo trip in 2012. This is a short book (146 pages) with lots of photos. You can read it in an hour or two. I think David Grann is the best author for this type of book. It emphasizes that, even with the modern technology, polar expeditions are still pitting man against nature. Guess who wins?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    Better suited for a long New Yorker profile than a standalone book. Not entirely satisfying. I didn’t get a feel for the explorer and I the audible narration is mismatched to the topic. (Update: If I were more up to snuff on all the pieces in a pile of New Yorker magazines that are collecting dust, I'd know that this WAS a great NYer feature and doesn't warrant its own book. I am drowning in content, apparently.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    A good, short little read where descendants of polar explorers decide to recreate their ancestors' trips. The premise is great but the book is very short, leaving out much of the detail about hazardous exploration that makes it so much fun to read about. This is more of an article than a true book. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa B.

    Henry Worsley felt such a connection with his hero Ernest Shackleton that he felt compelled to replicate Shackleton's expeditions. Or maybe obsessed would be a better word. While he was successful in his attempt to reach the South Pole, it was his last outing to walk across Antarctica alone that prove to be his greatest challenge. I sat down to take a look at this book and before I knew it, I was at the end. In it's brief 160 pages, it is filled with fascinating details and pictures about Shackle Henry Worsley felt such a connection with his hero Ernest Shackleton that he felt compelled to replicate Shackleton's expeditions. Or maybe obsessed would be a better word. While he was successful in his attempt to reach the South Pole, it was his last outing to walk across Antarctica alone that prove to be his greatest challenge. I sat down to take a look at this book and before I knew it, I was at the end. In it's brief 160 pages, it is filled with fascinating details and pictures about Shackleton and Worsley. It had me googling all sorts of things due to an "I'm curious about this or that" factor. I love it when a book challenges me to learn more about topics outside my normal interest. This book certainly did that. There was not one minute of boredom with this book. Now I know I must read more books from this very talented author. My thanks to Doubleday and Netgalley.

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