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  • Published: 4 May 2021
  • ISBN: 9780753553473
  • Imprint: Virgin Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 368

Madhouse at the End of the Earth

The Belgica's Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night

A new classic of extreme endurance - Into Thin Air meets The Perfect Storm in 19th century Antarctica

**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.

  • Published: 4 May 2021
  • ISBN: 9780753553473
  • Imprint: Virgin Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 368

About the author

Julian Sancton

Julian Sancton read History at Harvard, and has been a reporter and editor at Vanity Fair, Esquire, Bloomberg Businessweek and Departures. He has also contributed to the Guardian and New Yorker.

Praise for Madhouse at the End of the Earth

Has it all: Idealism, ingenuity, ambition, explosives, flimflammery, a colourful cast, a blank map, a three-month-long night, penguins (and medicinal penguin meat). A riveting tale, splendidly told

Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE WITCHES and CLEOPATRA

One of the most enthralling-and harrowing-adventure stories in years... An unforgettable tale brilliantly told

Scott Anderson, bestselling author of LAWRENCE IN ARABIA

The next great contribution to polar literature. A wild tale, so well told and immersively researched

Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE

Artfully constructed, written with evenly-paced poise and with a kind of dread-filled assurance, it grips from first sentence to last

Lawrence Osborne, international bestselling author of THE FORGIVEN

A riveting true-life horror story ... an obscure but important history transformed by deep research and note-perfect storytelling into a classic thriller

Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of STEVE JOBS and LEONARDO DA VINCI

A mesmerizing, unputdownable read... an epic of Antarctic exploration

Nathaniel Philbrick, author of IN THE HEART OF THE SEA and VALIANT AMBITION

[A] riveting history... A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale

Kirkus Reviews

A riveting account...well-researched and enthralling

Publishers Weekly

The savage beauty of the antarctic landscape grips. The writing is exacting, compelling and compassionate.

The Literary Review

Exquisitely researched and deeply engrossing

New York Times

Utterly enthralling

Geoff Dyer, Guardian

The energy of the narrative never flags... Mr. Sancton has produced a thriller, and a welcome addition to the polar shelves

Sara Wheeler, Wall Street Journal

A "grade-A classic" that's feverishly compelling ... this story has everything

Sunday Times

An epic of survival. A mixture of chaos and great courage; part Monty Python sketch, part real-life heroics

Michael Palin

A brilliant, vivid piece of writing that should be read by all who care about heroism, courage, ingenuity and endurance... it is adventure to the max, and peopled by wonderful characters. As soon as you finish, you want to read it again

Roger Alton, Daily Mail

Considering that much of Madhouse at the End of the Earth is about moribundity, Sancton does well to make each page exciting - "murder, suicide, starvation, insanity, icy death and all the acts of the devil"

Roger Lewis, Telegraph *****

'A splendid, beautifully written book'

Owen Matthews, The Spectator

This is an epic of exploration, a brilliantly vivid piece of writing told by a natural storyteller

Daily Mail

Julian Sancton's impressive research and incisive writing style ensures that this lockdown story grips like the pack ice

Yachting Monthly

The story of the Belgica has been told before, but never so brilliantly. Madhouse at the End of the Earth belongs at the heights of polar literature

The Times

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