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Madhouse at the End of the Earth Summary

Julian Sancton

Madhouse at the End of the Earth

by Julian Sancton

Madhouse at the End of the Earth

Julian Sancton

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Insight Icon3 key insights
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This non-fiction novel tells the extraordinary story of the disastrous Belgian Antarctic Expedition, delving into what happens when 18 men become trapped for a year on Earth's most hostile continent.

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Madhouse at the End of the Earth

by Julian Sancton

Madhouse at the End of the Earth

Julian Sancton

Overview

On March 5, 1898, the RV Belgica research ship became stuck in a desolate ice pack stretching beyond the horizon. The ship's crew had no choice but to try to survive an entire winter stuck in the Antarctic – something nobody had ever done before.

Julian Sancton is an author and journalist, whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Wired among others. Sancton became fascinated by the Belgica after reading about it in a New Yorker article and found himself particularly drawn to its crew - undisciplined and poorly assembled by a man with little idea of the hardships involved in a never-before-attempted polar expedition.

Sancton's book explores the effects the Belgica's journey had on its survivors, with some inspired to lead a lifetime of polar exploration and others consigned to mental institutions.

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"The winter had taken something from the men that they could never fully recover, had warped their minds and visited grotesquerie on their bodies, compressing a lifetime's worth of torment into a single dreadful session."

Julian Sancton

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Madhouse at the End of the Earth

Julian Sancton

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