Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance

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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly recreates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history.

In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross the Antarctic continent from one side to the other. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped. The expedition survived an Antarctic winter in the icebound ship, then, after Endurance sank, five months camped on the ice followed by a perilous boat journey through storms and icebergs to remote and unvisited Elephnat Island, 600 miles from Cape Horn. From there, their only hope was for someone to fetch help. In a dramatic climax to this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others navigated 800 miles of the treacherous open ocean in a 20-foot boat and then hiked across the unmapped, glacier-strewn interior of South Georgia Island to a whaling station. In August 1916, 19 months after Endurance first became icebound, Shackleton led a rescue party back to Elephant Island for his men.

Jennifer Armstrong narrates these almost unbelievable events with vigor, an eye for detail, and an appreciation of the marvelous leadership of Ernest Shackleton, who brought home every one of his men alive. With them survived a remarkable archive of photographs of the expedition, more than forty of which are reproduced here.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781883332396
Publisher: Audio Bookshelf
Publication date: 02/28/2000
Edition description: Unabridged, 4 Cassettes
Pages: 4
Product dimensions: 5.29(w) x 6.33(h) x 1.43(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Ever since the first grade, Jennifer Armstrong knew that she would become an author. She loved making up stories and sharing them with others. Her family treasured books and this led her to become an avid reader of all types of fiction. It was no surprise when she chose to study English and American Literature at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Armstrong is the author of over 50 books for children from kindergarten through high school. Best known for writing historical fiction, she has also been successful in creating picture books, easy readers, chapter books, young adult novels, as well as nonfiction.

Armstrong, who grew up outside of New York City, now lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Jennifer Armstrong is the winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World. Many of her books have been designated as Notable Books by the American Library Association and the International Reading Association.

For more information on Jennifer Armstrong, visit her website at, or read her blog at

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Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World the Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
teason on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I had not heard of the story before, so I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. Shipwreck tells the true story of Ernest Shackleton and his 27 men who sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica from one side to the other. Five months their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice 100 hundred miles away from land. The expedition managed to survive another five months. Shackleton and his crew had to camp on ice floes and then begin a dangerous journey through stormy seas to the unvisited Elephant Island. At the end of this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others somehow navigate 800 miles of open ocean in a 20-foot boat to fetch a rescue ship. The best part is that he was able to bring all of his men home. The illustrations are very lively and detailed.
Orpgirl1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This Newberry-award winning non-fiction book regarding Shackleton's failed journey to the South Pole in 1914 was gasp-inducing and absolutely riveting. Armstrong does a masterful job of uncovering this forgotten time in history that at it's happening was the headline news of the day. Sir Ernest Shackleton, a seasoned veteran of expeditions, and 27 men boarded the Endurance in a race to cross the continent of Antartica at the start of the first World War. Soon after reaching the continent, their ship became stuck in the ice, and the men spent months living within the stuck ship. After the ship sank, the men lived on the ice floes themselves, constantly fighting off attacking whales and boredom and fear. Shackleton and a few brave others leave 22 men behind to make a journey in a simple wooden boat back to the last land they remembered, without maps, compass, or any true idea where they were going. Nineteen months after they had first shipwrecked Shackleton returned to the ice flow where he had left his men, and all 27 men were rescued. The most heroic rescue and failed mission of it's time, this book is a literal piece of magic.Armstrong uses journal entries, photos, and newspaper clippings to piece together the story of these brave men. The pictures alone are compelling and riveting, but when Armstrong adds her strong yet heartfelt words you literally feel as if you are stranded on the ice flow yourself with these men. The book is fairly long, but I couldn't put it down, even though I knew that everyone would be saved in the end. This book is vital for any classroom, especially as a non-fiction text that both boys and girls will enjoy and relish every moment of reading.
ffox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read the very good "Endurance" a few years back and became mildly obsessed with the Shackleton story. How I managed to overlook this great piece of YAL is somewhat of a surprise to me. It is as compelling as any of the work I've seen on the story (kind of hard to make this story not compelling) and because of the structure/limits of the medium it move along very rapidly and comes off as a real page-turning suspense story.
CarolyneBegin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting book about the exploration of the Antarctic by Ernest Shackleton. It goes through the entire story in great detail from the selection of the crew to their rescue. I knew a little about this before reading the book but this really is a great tale of adventure. Even though it is historical it turned out to be a page turner. I cannot believe that a group of people lived on ice for so long with very little of the resources we have now. I loves reading about the popularity of the ship that encouraged a stowaway and about the ship cat that was brought on as well as learning how they survived on the ice.The story is accompanied by great photographs and maps that help understand the situation they were in. Without them it would hard to imagine the hardship they went through but also how amazing their adventure really was. Very interesting to read!
bpoche on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong is the telling of the remarkable true story of the Endurance and its expedition to Antarctica. Shackleton and the other 27 crew members abandoned the Endurance after it was destroyed by ice compacting. A mission of exploration quickly tuned into a story of survival, and Armstrong does a wonderful job telling it. Maps, ship diagrams, photos of the crew during the ordeal, and many resourced first-hand accounts are used to paint a seemingly truthful picture of what actually occurred while the crew was marooned. Armstrong's informative tone spares little detail, and the book in organized in mostly chronological order. The book contains an epilogue, acknowledgments, a bibliography, and an index. The index cites both text and pictures (page numbers in bold) within the book. This book is well-resourced and organized. The book begins with a vivid description of the Antarctic in an attempt to place the reader among the crew members, and this is valuable in catching the reader's attention. This book could be used in many classrooms from middle school to secondary as a base for a lesson on the biological richness of the Antarctic because without it the crew of the Endurance would have certainly been doomed.
wackermt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I went into Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World not expecting to be overly impressed. I had already read the Alfred Lansing account and did not expect to be won over by what presented itself as a book for advanced adolescent readers. Having given it the benefit of the doubt, I was very impressed by Armstrong's version. It included all of the thrilling details, and held onto the sense of adventure that the story inherently exudes.There were many features of Armstrong's book which I in fact preferred to my prior reading. Most noticeably, the photographs visually enhanced the experience, and there was a good focus on the fact that the sailors were very deliberate in keeping an account of their voyage, so that the retelling is precise and accurate. The photographs and graphics were all pertinent and well explained.Having read the Lansing edition, the only complaint I had was that Armstrong does not always fully enunciate to the reader how dire or excruciating some circumstances were. This was not a universal problem, many parts of the story do a capable job of gripping you in the impossibility of their task. In all, Armstrong has an admirable retelling of an incredible story, worth the read, but not appropriate for pre high school audiences in most cases.
mrcmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A superbly written, well-documented account of Shackleton's ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica. He and his crew survive in the harshest climate our planet has to offer in deplorable conditions for over a year before finally being rescued. A testament to the power of human endurance, and if you are looking for an adventure story it doesn't get much better
RangerRoss on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the crew of his ship, The Endurance, in its attempt to cross the continent of Antarctica. Before landing the ship became caught in sea ice, and the mission went from one of exploration to simple survival. The story is told chronologically and is accompanied by pictures from the voyage as well as a map of the expedition.This book would be interesting to teach across subject lines, mixing elements of history, physics, biology, geology, geography, and physiology. The voyage was made during the opening of World War 1, and near the end of the great age of exploration. I enjoyed reading this book, and students would also enjoy this story of survival against great odds.
rmthoma2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is about Ernest Shackleton and his quest to cross the South Pole. The books shows that not all trips in the 1900 ended in death like the Titanic. Even though Shackleton and his 27 crew members didn¿t finish their trip they survived. I like how this book is written, giving you very specific descriptions of what happened to the men during their journey. The book also includes pictures and maps to show what things looked like back then. The pictures all have a small caption that gives the description of what is happening in them. I would recommend this book to be used in a secondary history or English class . I really enjoyed this book and I¿m happy I read it .
jmsummer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book talks about Ernest Shackleton and his failed expedition to the Antartic. This book is easily one of the best reads that I have done so far in non-fiction. The book pulls you into this great piece of history that was the the whole lives of Shackleotn and his crew. The book is also filled with a number of original photographs that survived this event, which helps give a sense of the challenge that the crew went through. Even though this is a short book, it is by no means bad. The entire story is there. It is not a condensed number of facts. The lives of these people are talked about, from the crew building homes for their snow dogs to the Midwinters Day party. Not many books of this size would keep students as engaged as it does. I would use this book in any secondary history/ geography course.
Michelle_Bales on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Armstrong's metaphoric prose brings to life the amazing survival story of Shackleton and his men. Against all odds, the awesome shepherd Captain Shackleton brings his men home alive after the wreck of their ship, The Endurance, and being stranded for more than a year in Antarctica. Armstrong's captions combined with actual photographs from the ship's photographer give the reader a sense of exactly what happened, the men's personalities, and the forbidding terrain. Drawings of the ship and a map of the crew's travels clarify the details of the story. Chapter titles pique the reader's interest. This is a captivating read.
DayehSensei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did not expect this story to be nearly half as compelling as it was. This is a masterpiece for Armstrong: an excellent blend of informative, yet riveting prose and thought-provoking photographs, all chronologically organized in a coherent, student-friendly fashion. The text is written as if it is taking place in the present and yet we know this scenario could not happen today: Armstrong doesn't make any excuses for the lack of women aboard the Endurance, or the occasional racist act or sentiment-- this is simply how it was in the early twentieth century. The amazing tenacity of the crew, their creative forms of entertainment and culinary innovations amazed me. This is a book that proves the power and utter necessity of teamwork and why hope is something we can never lose track of. This text should appear in every middle, high, and public library.
kharding on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, after reading this book I felt like I had been on a journey! I couldn't believe that Shackleton and his crew could survive even one of the challenges that they faced. I also couldn't even understand how they managed to still have food on Elephant Island. While it was hard for me to believe that they had the spirit to press forward with the cold, wet, climate and the meals of seal blubber, I also realized that they may have faced similar grueling challenges if they had made it to their goal of crossing Antarctica. These men were prepared for the worst, and craved the challenge. I cannot relate to their desires or their strength. And what motivated Shakelton to return to Antarctica again just baffles me. I think this story would be just as engaging for students as it was for me. I don't think anyone could read this book and not want to know what happens next. I think this storyline is more engaging than most fiction stories. Also there are several great science and geography lessons in this book. I think it always helps to have information imbedded, so that students are more interested in understanding latitude and longitude or polar fronts, when they can apply it to something. If I were to share this book with high school students, I would make sure to just introduce excerpts. While I think it is great that the book details every step of their journey, I think many of the details are redundant just due to the nature of what they faced. While the language is very vivid, and Armstrong is a great storyteller (as are the men) there are only so many ways to say it was cold, miserable, and that they cooked the seal blubber. I love the sidebars, and I was sad when the camera was left behind, because there were no more pictures in the book!
smoore75 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World tells an historical account of the ship Endurance and its 27 crewman and leader, Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton, called "The Boss" by his crew, set out to be the first Trans-Antarctic explorers of their day. However, due to countless hardships and the unpredictable, hostile weather of the South Pole, the ship was, ultimately, lost and the crew had to set about trying to survive. With their three life boats and supplies in tow, the crew used ice floes to search for open water. Once found, they battled bad weather and freezing temperatures to make it ashore the remote and uninhabited Eleplant Island. Knowing they could not stay, Shackleton and five of the crew, in search of rescue, set out on an 800 mile journey to South Georgia Island, where there was a whaling station. After reaching their destination, it would take another five months to return to the men on Elephant Island. In the end, all of the crewmen survived their ordeal. The ship's name, Endurance, would be more appropriately placed on the crew and their leader, Shackleton.I really enjoyed this book and loved that is was written like an adventure novel. The author pulls you in with vivid imagey. The book is full of photographs that help tell the reader what was occurring and give perspective. The chapter headings were clearly designed to draw you in and tell the reader what the chapter would be about. The book is full of quotes taken from journals of the men, again, giving perspective. I could certainly see myself using this book to talk about temperature, different types of snow (I didn't know there were 18 kinds. Wow!), what the body can withstand, why you, ideally, should not eat raw meat, etc. Multiple subjects are overlapping in this book; history, social studies, science. It is a great book! My favorite so far.
cjohn64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was good but it really needed a glossary. While reading the book I felt a little lost when the book discussed all the different types of ice. I know the book briefly explained them earlier but a glossary would have helped a reader like me remember what the different terms were. I don¿t think I would ever use the book in a classroom. I know it has applications in World Geography but I wouldn¿t use it. I might more use it in a history class to help students understand the times. As I discussed with Keith in class the book might do well for a management/leadership class. A class that wouldn¿t be in primary or secondary class but the book could be useful in a college class. Shackelton portrayal was very clear in how he helped keep his crew from falling apart.
laurenryates on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, told in chronological order, is about the ship, Endurance, and the 28 men that were her crew. The men were trying to sail to Antarctica when the Endurance became stuck in icy waters. The men, being at an impasse, camped out and made the best of their situation until real disaster struck. The ship was crushed by the pressure of the surrounding ice floes. The crew was completely stuck in the bitter cold. Jennifer Armstrong does a great job in showing how the men stick together and forge on, even in the worst of circumstances. The men walked and paddled life boats many miles to beat the odds. Miraculously, all of the men survived. Its a great story of perseverance and determination. The author included a list of the crew along with their job titles, as well as a map of the ship to assist the reader. This would be an excellent book for science classes as there are elements of biology, astronomy, and even anatomy when she discusses frostbite and the removal of one of the crew member's toes. The book also had many pictures that were take by one of the crewmen to show just how cold and desolate the environment was where these men were fighting for survival.
Chrisdier on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Armstrong¿s book chronologically details the struggles of famed ¿Sir¿ Ernest Shackleton, an English explorer, as his crew dangerously navigates and traverses Antarctic continent. Shipwreck is packed with adventure, but there are some slow parts that may bore a lot of the younger readers. Almost 100 years ago, Shackleton¿s ship, the Endurance, got trapped in ice and forced them to travel across the frozen tundra. Amazingly, all of the crew members survived. Prior to this book, I was unaware of the massive voyage undergone by these people. Sure, I knew that trips like these had taken place, but I did not know the specifics. I had no idea how treacherous these journeys, like this one, could be. This book seems to be appropriate for people of all ages, from kids to grownups. It would do really well in a middle school social studies class, especially with students who like action and adventure, or maybe even a freshmen level geology class that is learning about the areas that pertain to this book. The illustrations are great, as well.Note: The picture of Lionel Greenstreet on page 68 is excellent.
amclellan0908 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Armstrong tells the story of Shakelton and the crew of the Endurance, whose goal of crossing Antarctica changed to simply surviving after the ship was crushed and eventually lost to ice.
chelsea6273 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Armstrong¿s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance is a specialized nonfiction text. It tells the story of Ernest Shackleton and his crew¿s goal of trying to get across Antarctica. When the ship was crushed due to ice, their goal changed to solely surviving. The plethora of photographs enhanced the story, enabling the reader to visualize what the crew was going through. In fact, I was surprised at how many photographs there were; being stuck in Antarctica for an extended period of time, like Shackleton¿s crew, one would think that they would have run out of film. I would recommend this book to middle and high school students who are interested in explorers; I also think this book would be great in a history or English class.
rosesaurora on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A chronicle of an impossible journey; an entire crew stranded in the Antarctic after their ship is encased in ice and inevitable sinks beneath the frigid surface--all of the crew survive. I do wish the photographs in this book had showed a little more of the struggles and hardships that the crew face--many were from before the ship sank and none really show how starving and pitiful the men looked as their journey to safety progressed. This is most likely a combination of the circumstances, the difficulty it took to develop photographs at that time, and a sensitivity towards the men who probably did not want anyone to see them looking so haggard. Even so, the photographs within the text are incredibly striking but the journey itself even more so.At the beginning, you already know the end. You know everyone will survive, so what then is the point of reading the story? The journey itself is so unbelievable that you keep turning the page to see if it could possibly get any worse (it does).It is a very well put together book; she includes bibliography, schematics from the ship, etc. You can tell she put a lot of effort, passion, and research into writing this book. I feel that it would be best suited for a social studies class but it could be also used in an English class to underscore the grueling conditions humans can endure--and survive.
agiffin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book takes the reader completely into the world of Shackleton and his men as they defy all odds in surviving over a year in the treacherous ice packs of Antarctica. While at first glance, the reader may think reading this book will become as boring and repetitive as the long days the stranded men lived out themselves, this is not the case. The strength, courage, and perseverance of these men resonates on every page, and with each new obstacle faced and overcome, the reader is drawn more closely into the story. The photographs were a helpful visual, and I was disappointed when there were less towards the end of the book (although this would be an excellent connection to make with student readers--that there were less pictures because of the many items the men were forced to leave behind!) Overall, an excellent account of an incredible tale, one that I think a middle school social studies class might certainly enjoy.
tiffanylewis0519 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is an account of a British crew that managed to survive being stranded in the Artic with 100% survival.I was not familiar with Shackleton and his journey before reading this book. It is beautifully written and had amazing photographs taken by the men on the expededtion. The author's passion for the subject and admiration for Shakleton is apparent.Undoubtedly, Shakleton had to be a stoic and rugged amn to survive such an ordeal, yet Armstrong is able to show a side of him that managed to maintain a sense of humor under adverse circumstances and a deep consideration for his men.
Kathdavis54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book so much. Armstrong gives the reader a great introduction, descriptive storytelling, and thorough resources like an index and bibliography. Honestly, I just found the topic very boring. I can say, though, as someone who had no interest in the topic, I enjoyed her style of writing. Armstrong is obviously passionate about Shackleton's story and obviously admires him. If teaching this topic I would recommend this book over Armstrong's children's book version of the same information.
harriewatson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read Endurance by Alfred Lansing 5-6 times. I think short of reading the actual primary sources, diaries and log books, etc, that book is the definitive one on this story. I think Jennifer Armstrong did an outstanding job of truncating this incredible story so that even middle schoolers could share this. For middle school I think this would be a perfect one for librarians to read outloud. There will be many terms and concepts that will probably need guidance and support for middle school students and maybe even for high schoolers.. This book could easily be integrated into history and geography. Armstrong doesn't go into what happened to Shackleton in the aftermath, but that story illustrates completely how the western world changed after WWI. The avalanche of technology and the public's weariness with extreme public displays of reckless bravery based upon nationalism (like exploration) combined to make Shackleton's story less valuble on the lecture circuits of the day (which were themselves being replaced with film). His return voyage was less ambitious because he couldn't raise funding. I think this book could be an intersting way to segue into how the Roaring 20"s came about and how England never really recovered from WWI.I have placed this book in the Documents, journals, diaries, and albums category. It could also be placed in the biography category. The use of primary sources, both paraphrase and quotes, adds great richness to the story. The photographs from the epic trek are amazing and well captioned to fit into the story. Even details in the captions such as explaining that a photograph of Hurley's on page 40 add much to the understanding of the entire story. Caption explains that photo looks like a negative because the trapped Endurance is covered in white snow when the sun didn't rise at all for months. Sources are all well documented with included references and also in the bibliography. In examining criteria for nonfiction, I am struck by the firm documentation resulting in a great deal of accuracy. The story itself is sensational, but there is no sensationalism. Content includes the scope of this story which is more detailed than presented here. But the chosen focus is to give the juvenile reader enough detail without being overwhelming. I think the author has handled this task well. Her tone is serious, but admiring of the dtermination of these men. Her clarity is appropriate to her audience and she does explain special equipment and tools of navigation. There are still terms which will need explanation for full understanding. Unfortunately, I find most young readers just skip over those terms and miss the full comprehension willingly. The book is organized chronologically and well illustrated with photos, maps, and drawings.
enbrown504 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Armstrong's book about the famous expedition of the Endurance was one of my favorites I've read this semester. It told the story of captain Shackleton and his crew who traveled to Antarctica on an exploring expedition that was eventually stranded in that unusually icy season. When the ice shifted their boat the Endurance was crushed and the crew was left to find their way back to civilization. A few of the men sailed back on a life boat where they found help and rescued the rest of the crew without a life lost. This is an incredible story of adventure and survival in a different time in the history of society. Armstrong writes in an informative and exciting tone without exaggerating or sensationalizing the experience of the crew. The book is illustrated with many photos taken by the ships photographer on the expedition. The organization is narrative and chronological. The sources used are extensive both in terms of background knowledge about exploration and the Antarctic and the story of Shackleton and the Endurance giving a very dependable feel to the account provided by Armstrong.