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Re-reading Shackleton's Way | Preface

Perhaps you saw me mention on LinkedIn that while sorting out my Shackleton files recently, I realized I haven't read Shackleton's Way since 2004. So please join me! Let's get started.

In the 1990s, I went to London pretty often - two or three times a year - to pursue my interest in Shackleton's leadership strategies. Along the way, I got to know Sir Ernest's granddaughter, The Honorable Alexandra Shackleton. Stephanie Capparell and I were delighted when, after reading a manuscript version in early 2000, Alexandra agreed to write the preface for Shackleton's Way.

Reading the preface over now, a couple of Alexandra's comments stand out:

Indeed, most people never quite get over their first trip to Antarctica.

That's so true. Going to Antarctica is the closest you can get to leaving Earth without getting on a rocket.

[The captain] told me that he was unable to tear himself away from the bridge as he approached the continent, such were the sights unfolding before his eyes. I understood.

This observation explains why Sir Ernest, as do others, kept returning to Antarctica after his first glimpse of the region as a teenage apprentice on a merchant ship.

As the ship approached Cumberland East Bay [on South Georgia], I was seeing colors that my grandfather would have seen: the blue of the mighty Nordenskjold Glacier and the surprising gentle green of the neighboring slopes.

I love that Alexandra makes this point about the extraordinary, jewel-toned colors of Antarctica. They give us a glimpse of what our planet looked like at its birth.

Grandfather's grave lies at the far end, set against a magnificent backdrop of mountains. The words engraved on the simple granite headstone read: "To the Dear Memory of Sir Ernest Shackleton, Explorer, born 15 February 1874, Entered Life Eternal 5 January 1922."

So simple and so moving.

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