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  • Madhouse at the End of the Earth

  • The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night
  • By: Julian Sancton
  • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, World
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

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 firsthand 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.

©2021 Julian Sancton (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"An unforgettable tale brilliantly told." (Scott Anderson)

"It grips from first sentence to last." (Lawrence Osborne)

"The next great contribution to polar literature." (Hampton Sides)

What listeners say about Madhouse at the End of the Earth

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Want to listen again!

I heard about this book by accident and did a quick check on Goodreads to get a synopsis.
When I heard it's Antarctic theme, I purchased straight away.
3 days and finished, didnt want it to end.
The author makes a story of real life derring do into an unputdownable thriller like roller coaster ride.
I loved it, and would heartily recommend to anyone with an interest in Antarctic/Marine exploration, but also a brilliant study of the big personalities of the crew of the eponymous Belgica, their back stories and more.
Wonderful!

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Not a bad listen

Well-read by the narrator and not a bad book. However, I have read/listened to better ones of a similar ilk e.g. the books about Shackleton, Scott and the Erebus journeys were, for me, more engaging.

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  • Robyn(Amazon)
  • 29-06-21

Exceptional

Excellent. I compulsively listened to the entire book and ave started from the beginning again. Narration is good, well researched. Gripping