Madhouse at the End of the Earth Review

Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton retells the journey of brave and adventurous sailors attempt to put Belgium forever on the map of historic feats. The chilling journey recounts how these sailors attempted to sail further south than any other man before in the late 1800s. If you are looking to read a story about survival or of the man vs. nature types, definitely look no further. This book was recommended to me after having finished “In the Heart of the Sea” which is also about survival in the sea. I also was excited to learn that their journey was only about 40 or so years after the disappearance of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus of which I learned of after watching season 1 of the AMC TV series called The Terror.

“Hell is a cold place, but the sunshine will be better because of the darkness there when you come out.”

Roald Amundsen

The three main explorers of Adrien de Gerlache, Roald Amundsen and Frederick Cook is nothing short of fascinating. In the main corner you have an explorer who has a great family reputation to uphold. In a time where his country is not exactly known for their marine status and feats, Adrien de Gerlache against all odds still was determined to relentlessly chase after his goal of traveling further south than any other person alive. In Roald Amundsen, we have a Norwegian fellow who truly believes in his destiny to accomplish great adventurous feats that will one day stamp his name as one of the greatest explorers to live. With Frederick Cook, we have a smart and very much likable doctor turned explorer. Madhouse at the End of the Earth highlights that although these men came from seemingly different backgrounds, they are able to still work together to accomplish something no one has done so before and with much less overall experience at that. It also points out that although these men have a lot of heart and determination, they are still human and therefore susceptible to human failings. That is something that truly cannot be escaped.

“Nature always claims what she’s owed.”

Emil Racovitza

You’d think a survival story about a ship getting stuck in the middle of the ice can’t be that interesting to read. I had that same feeling when I picked up “In the Heart of the Sea”. However, you’d be wrong to think that. Yes, it can and will seem depressing but to learn of the battle these men had to face not only physically but mentally as well is something to behold. Assuming the men had better tools and technology during that period, what they had to endure was still something that would defeat the most strongest of men today.


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