Madhouse at the End of the Earth The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night

Julian Sancton

$40

In stock



‘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.

$40

In stock

ISBN – 9780753553459
Publisher – Ebury Publishing
Format – Paperback
Publication Date – 04/05/2021
Dimensions – 233mm X 154mm
Categories – Travel

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Julian Sancton
Madhouse at the End of the Earth The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night
Madhouse at the End of the Earth The Belgica's Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night

The \”exquisitely researched and deeply engrossing\” (The New York Times) true survival story of an early polar expedition that went terribly awry–with the ship frozen in ice and the crew trapped inside for the entire sunless, Antarctic winter

\”The energy of the narrative never flags. . . . Sancton has produced a thriller.\”–The Wall Street Journal

In August 1897, the young Belgian commandant Adrien de Gerlache set sail for a three-year expedition aboard the good ship Belgica with dreams of glory. His destination was the uncharted end of the earth: the icy continent of Antarctica.

But de Gerlache’s plans to be first to the magnetic South Pole would swiftly go awry. After a series of costly setbacks, the commandant faced two bad options: turn back in defeat and spare his men the devastating Antarctic winter, or recklessly chase fame by sailing deeper into the freezing waters. De Gerlache sailed on, and soon the Belgica was stuck fast in the icy hold of the Bellingshausen Sea. When the sun set on the magnificent polar landscape one last time, the ship’s occupants were condemned to months of endless night. In the darkness, plagued by a mysterious illness and besieged by monotony, they descended into madness.

In Madhouse at the End of the Earth, Julian Sancton unfolds an epic story of adventure and horror for the ages. As the Belgica’s men teetered on the brink, de Gerlache relied increasingly on two young officers whose friendship had blossomed in captivity: the expedition’s lone American, Dr. Frederick Cook–half genius, half con man–whose later infamy would overshadow his brilliance on the Belgica; and the ship’s first mate, soon-to-be legendary Roald Amundsen, even in his youth the storybook picture of a sailor. Together, they would plan a last-ditch, nearly certain-to-fail escape from the ice–one that would either etch their names in history or doom them to a terrible fate at the ocean’s bottom.

Drawing on the diaries and journals of the Belgica’s crew and with exclusive access to the ship’s logbook, Sancton brings novelistic flair to a story of human extremes, one so remarkable that even today NASA studies it for research on isolation for future missions to Mars. Equal parts maritime thriller and gothic horror, Madhouse at the End of the Earth is an unforgettable journey into the deep.

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