The Accursed Land

Sir Douglas Mawson's epic and tragic journey across 600 miles of unknown Antarctic wasteland during 1912-13 has been described by Sir Emund Hillary as 'the greatest story of lone survival in polar exploration'. This Accursed Land recounts how Mawson declined to join Scott's ill-fated British expedition in order to lead the Australian Antarctic expedition in charting the far eastern coastline of the continent. The loss of one of his own men and most of his supplies turned a hazardous trek into a fight for survival. Mawson and his remaining colleague, Xavier Mertz, trapped 320 miles from base with only nine days supply of food, were ultimately forced to slaughter and eat their starving dogs. Mawson's subsequent drift into madness - starving, exhausted, and indescribably cold - is one of the most extraordinary stories from the heroic period of Antarctic exploration. (From rear jacket of book).

First published by Macmilliam in 1977 and paperback edition by Birlinn.


Shackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Story of an Antarctic Tragedy.

(USA edition - Shackleton's Forgotten Men: The Untold Story of The Endurance).

(Australian edition - Shackleton's Forgotton Argonauts).

This has now been reprinted under the title The Last Antarctic Heroes and the publishers are describing it as a first edition - naughty goings on at Macmillan, I think.
In Shackleton's Forgotten Men, Lennard Bickel honours the memory of a group of men who carried out some of the most heroic and devoted journeys ever made in the Antarctic. This is the stirring account of the little-known, tragic expedition launched by Ernest Shackleton in 1915 to provide support for his own Antarctic expedition that would follow. These journeys were made to set up depots across the Great Ice Shelf to supply the coming Shackleton expedition: a crossing of the Antarctic continent from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. But the group lost their ship and supplies when a fierce polar gale ripped the ship from its moorings, and had to haul sledges almost 2000 miles across the hostile interior of the Antarctic. Despite enduring unimaginable deprivation, from bad weather to disease and madness, this heroic band accomplished their mission, laying the way for Shackleton and his men. But Shackleton and his men never came and the drama of their own disastrous journey has until now overshadowed the extraordinary story of those brave men who came before them. Lennard Bickel tells the story of these forgotten heroes in a gripping account, drawing largely from interviews with one team member, Dick Richards, and from the diary of another. This new account underscores the capacity of ordinary men for tragedy, endurance and noble action. (This review from Amazon Books)

Mawson's Will. The Greatest Survival Story Ever Written

See also This Accursed Land - above

Australian explorer Douglas Mawson chose not to go with Robert Scott to the South Pole in 1911, but instead set out to chart Antarctica's coastline. Going overland with a party of 3, he faced mountains, crevasse-filled glaciers and devastating winds. He fought his way back home alone through horrific wind, snow and cold to leave his own mark in history. This account, 1st published in 1977, has a 1999 author note that sheds new light on what killed one of his men and almost killed Mawson.