Erebus: The Story of a Ship
Mr B's review
Mr B’s Christmas Catalogue Review 2018
In the C19, the spirit of exploration in Britain was rampant and so when the Erebus was launched in 1826, her subsequent voyages would take in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Her last voyage, however – to navigate the Northwest Passage under John Franklin – was doomed. Michael Palin’s engaging book is partly a history of the ship and a biography of those who sailed in her and partly (following her rediscovery in 2014) an account of his own journey to the site of the wreck.
BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
HMS Erebus was one of the great exploring ships, a veteran of groundbreaking expeditions to the ends of the Earth.
In 1848, it disappeared in the Arctic, its fate a mystery. In 2014, it was found.
This is its story.
`Beyond terrific. I didn’t want it to end.’ – Bill Bryson
Michael Palin – Monty Python star and television globetrotter – brings the remarkable Erebus back to life, following it from its launch in 1826 to the epic voyages of discovery that led to glory in the Antarctic and to ultimate catastrophe in the Arctic.
The ship was filled with fascinating people: the dashing and popular James Clark Ross, who charted much of the `Great Southern Barrier’; the troubled John Franklin, whose chequered career culminated in the Erebus’s final, disastrous expedition; and the eager Joseph Dalton Hooker, a brilliant naturalist – when he wasn’t shooting the local wildlife dead.
Vividly recounting the experiences of the men who first set foot on Antarctica’s Victoria Land, and those who, just a few years later, froze to death one by one in the Arctic ice, beyond the reach of desperate rescue missions, Erebus is a wonderfully evocative account of a truly extraordinary adventure, brought to life by a master explorer and storyteller.
`Thoroughly absorbs the reader. . . Carefully researched and well-crafted, it brings the story of a ship vividly to life.’ – Sunday Times
`This is an incredible book. I couldn’t put it down. The Erebus story is the Arctic epic we’ve all been waiting for.’ – Nicholas Crane
`Palin is a superb stylist, low-key and conversational, who skillfully incorporates personal experience. He turns up obscure facts, reanimates essential moments, and never shies away from taking controversial positions. This beautifully produced volume – colour plates, outstanding maps – is a landmark achievement.’ – Ken McGoogan, author of Fatal Passage
`I absolutely loved it: I had to read it at one sitting . . . Fascinating.’ – Lorraine Kelly, ITV Lorraine
`Magisterial . . . Brings energy, wit and humanity to a story that has never ceased to tantalise people since the 1840s.’ – The Times
“Beyond terrific. I didn’t want it to end.” — Bill Bryson “Thoroughly absorbs the reader. . . Carefully researched and well-crafted, it brings the story of a ship vividly to life.” * Sunday Times * “With this irresistible and often harrowing account, Michael Palin makes a convincing case that one heroic little ship embodied the golden ago of polar exploration better than any other: HMS Erebus.” — John Geiger, co-author of Frozen in Time “[Written] with a wry enthusiasm, bolstered by his own experiences as an eminent explorer and film-maker . . . His moving account of the discovery of abandoned items, taken on board as comforts of home by the officers – silver cutlery with their initials indented, scattered on a frozen shore – affected me the most.” — Colin Greenwood, Radiohead bassist * Spectator * “Everybody’s talking about it . . . A brilliant book.” — Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2 “I absolutely loved it: I had to read it at one sitting . . . Fascinating.” — Lorraine Kelly * ITV Lorraine * “At this late date, and against all odds, Michael Palin has found an original way to enter and explore the Royal Navy narrative of polar exploration. Palin is a superb stylist, low-key and conversational, who skillfully incorporates personal experience. He turns up obscure facts, reanimates essential moments, and never shies away from taking controversial positions. This beautifully produced volume – colour plates, outstanding maps – is a landmark achievement.” — Ken McGoogan, author of Fatal Passage “Magisterial . . . A natural storyteller, [Palin] captures beautifully the sense of awe experienced by Ross and his men as they encountered the wonders and terrors of Antarctica . . . He brings energy, wit and humanity to a story that has never ceased to tantalise people since the 1840s.” * The Times * “This is an incredible book. I couldn’t put it down. The Erebus story is the Arctic epic we’ve all been waiting for.” — Nicholas Crane “A timely account of Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition to find a way through the Northwest Passage . . . [Palin] does an admirable job of recounting the life of this doughty ship, from construction at Pembroke dockyard in 1826 to her last days stuck fast in the ice . . . vivid, evocative stuff . . . pulls together very effectively much of the work that’s been done to establish the truth about Franklin’s fate.” — Erica Wagner * Financial Times * “What a book this is! . . . [Palin] brings not just a historian’s and writer’s skills to it, but those of a traveller.” — Dan Snow * Dan’s History Hit * “Compelling . . . HMS Erebus embarked on two of the most dramatic Polar expeditions in history . . . Michael’s historical non fiction debut charts both journeys and brings back to life all those who sailed on her.” * Saga * “[Palin] successfully reanimates the corpse, bringing Erebus back from the depths of time so her funnels once more blast smoke as she forges through new and wondrous seas.” * Sunday Express * “Combines a fascinating episode of naval history with [Palin’s] flair for storytelling.” * Radio Times * “Palin’s experiences, including a voyage on a Russian ship to the channel where the wreck of Erebus was discovered, give a sense of immediacy and proportion to his narrative . . . Michael Palin has done full justice to [John Franklin] and all these remarkable men. This truly is a marvellous book.” — Allan Massie * Scotsman * “This lively account reveals much about both exploration and the Royal Navy in the 19th century . . . Palin is a diligent researcher who has trawled the primary sources and, largely in the course of filming his television series Pole to Pole, has visited many of the key sites here.” — Sara Wheeler * Observer * “Nicholas Crane, current president of the Royal Geographical Society, has described Palin, one of his predecessors, as “the world’s most appealing practitioner of geographical curiosity”, and it’s that curiosity which drives his stirring new book . . . His account is written in crisp, unshowy prose.” — Four star review * Daily Telegraph *