Madhouse at the End of the Earth
‘An epic of survival’ — MICHAEL PALIN
‘A “grade-A classic”‘ — SUNDAY TIMES
‘Utterly enthralling’ — GEOFF DYER, GUARDIAN
‘Deeply engrossing’ — NEW YORK TIMES
***A TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2021***
The harrowing, survival story of an early polar expedition that went terribly wrong, with the ship frozen in ice and the crew trapped inside for the entire sunless, Antarctic winter
August 1897: The Belgica set sail, eager to become the first scientific expedition to reach the white wilderness of the South Pole. But the ship soon became stuck fast in the ice of the Bellinghausen sea, condemning the ship’s crew to overwintering in Antarctica and months of endless polar night. In the darkness, plagued by a mysterious illness, their minds ravaged by the sound of dozens of rats teeming in the hold, they descended into madness.
In this epic tale, Julian Sancton unfolds a story of adventure gone horribly awry. As the crew teetered on the brink, the Captain increasingly relied on two young officers whose friendship had blossomed in captivity – Dr. Frederick Cook, the wild American whose later infamy would overshadow his brilliance on the Belgica; and the ship’s first mate, soon-to-be legendary Roald Amundsen, who later raced Captain Scott to the South Pole. Together, Cook and Amundsen would plan a last-ditch, desperate escape from the ice-one that would either etch their names into history or doom them to a terrible fate in the frozen ocean.
Drawing on first-hand crew diaries and journals, and exclusive access to the ship’s logbook, the result is equal parts maritime thriller and gothic horror. This is an unforgettable journey into the deep.
A "grade-A classic" that's feverishly compelling ... this story has everything * Sunday Times * Exquisitely researched and deeply engrossing * New York Times * Utterly enthralling -- Geoff Dyer * Guardian * An epic of survival. A mixture of chaos and great courage; part Monty Python sketch, part real-life heroics * Michael Palin * The next great contribution to polar literature. A wild tale, so well told and immersively researched * Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE * A brilliant, vivid piece of writing that should be read by all who care about heroism, courage, ingenuity and endurance... it is adventure to the max, and peopled by wonderful characters. As soon as you finish, you want to read it again -- Roger Alton * Daily Mail * The story of the Belgica has been told before, but never so brilliantly. Madhouse at the End of the Earth belongs at the heights of polar literature * The Times * Considering that much of Madhouse at the End of the Earth is about moribundity, Sancton does well to make each page exciting - "murder, suicide, starvation, insanity, icy death and all the acts of the devil" -- Roger Lewis * Telegraph ***** * A riveting true-life horror story ... an obscure but important history transformed by deep research and note-perfect storytelling into a classic thriller * Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of STEVE JOBS and LEONARDO DA VINCI * Artfully constructed, written with evenly-paced poise and with a kind of dread-filled assurance, it grips from first sentence to last * Lawrence Osborne, international bestselling author of THE FORGIVEN * One of the most enthralling-and harrowing-adventure stories in years... An unforgettable tale brilliantly told * Scott Anderson, bestselling author of LAWRENCE IN ARABIA * Has it all: Idealism, ingenuity, ambition, explosives, flimflammery, a colourful cast, a blank map, a three-month-long night, penguins (and medicinal penguin meat). A riveting tale, splendidly told * Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE WITCHES and CLEOPATRA * A mesmerizing, unputdownable read... an epic of Antarctic exploration * Nathaniel Philbrick, author of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA and VALIANT AMBITION * [A] riveting history... A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale * Kirkus Reviews * The savage beauty of the antarctic landscape grips. The writing is exacting, compelling and compassionate. * The Literary Review * The energy of the narrative never flags... Mr. Sancton has produced a thriller, and a welcome addition to the polar shelves -- Sara Wheeler * Wall Street Journal * A riveting account...well-researched and enthralling * Publishers Weekly * 'A splendid, beautifully written book' -- Owen Matthews * The Spectator * This is an epic of exploration, a brilliantly vivid piece of writing told by a natural storyteller. * Daily Mail * Julian Sancton's impressive research and incisive writing style ensures that this lockdown story grips like the pack ice * Yachting Monthly *
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