Douglas Mawson, born in 1882 and knighted in 1914, was Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer. On 2 December 1911, he led an expedition from Hobart to explore the virgin frozen coastline below, 2000 miles of which had never felt the tread of a human foot. After setting up Main Base at Cape Denision and Western Base on Queen Mary Land, he headed east on an extraordinary sledging trek with his companions, Belgrave Ninnis and Dr Xavier Mertz. After five weeks, tragedy struck. Ninnis was swallowed whole by a snow-covered crevasse, and Mawson and Mertz realised it was too dangerous to go on. With the scant food and provisions they had left, turning back was almost equally perilous.
Their dwindling supplies forced them to kill their dogs to feed the other dogs, at first, and then themselves. Hunger, sickness and despair eventually got the better of Ninnis, and he succumbed to madness and then to death. Mawson found himself all alone, 160 miles from safety, with next to no food. In Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age Peter FitzSimons tells the staggering tale of Mawson's survival, despite all the odds, arriving back just in time to see his rescue ship disappearing over the horizon. He also masterfully interweaves the stories of the other giants from the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration – Scott of the Antarctic, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen – to bring the jaw-dropping events of this bygone era dazzlingly back to life..
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