“Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.”
The above advertisement – largely recognized as one of the most famous in history – was placed in London newspapers in the early 20th century by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), the famed polar explorer who led one of the most remarkable expeditions of all time: the 1914 journey to Antarctica that left him and his crew living on floating ice for months on end after the sinking of their ship, Endurance.
As the daughter of one of Shackleton’s biggest fans, I became familiar with the written account of Endurance at a young age – a story that brilliantly captures man’s yearning for adventure (not to mention his will to survive) and serves as a testimony to the pivotal influence of strong leadership in the face of insurmountable odds.
Sharing his own yearning for adventure – or at the very least, yearning for adventure stories – my father has passed along to me many other riveting reads throughout the years, such as Alive by Piers Paul Read and The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz (synopses below).
With a collection spanning everything from lost-at-sea to hiking Mt. Everest, such books have proven to be reliable gifts – for both adventure aficionados and those looking for an enthralling page-turner.
And so, this Father’s Day, consider helping your father “discover” one of the thrilling disaster survival stories below. A mere sampling of an extensive list that we’re forever adding to, we promise these won’t disappoint!
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage (1959)
By Alfred Lansing
Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors (1974)
By Piers Paul Read
Alive tells the story of a team of young rugby players from Uruguay who were headed to Chile in October 1972 when their plane crashed into one of the remotest parts of the Andes Mountains. After a rescue team fails to find them during a short-lived search, 16 of the 45 survivors of the flight are forced to do whatever they can to keep themselves alive in sub-zero temperatures.
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom (1956)
By Slavomir Rawicz
In 1941, the author and six fellow prisoners of war escaped from a Soviet labor camp in Yakutsk, heading south in an attempt to find freedom. The Long Walk tells the awe-inspiring story of their 18-month-long journey on foot with little resources and food, covering over 3,000 miles through the Gobi Desert, Tibet and the Himalayas before finally reaching freedom in British India.
Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea (1986)
By Steve Callahan
Preceding The Perform Storm and In The Heart of The Sea, Adrift chronicles one of the greatest sea adventures of all times, providing a riveting firsthand account by the only man known to have survived for more than a month alone at sea. Drifting for 1,800 miles in an inflatable raft after his boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, Callahan fights off sharks, captures birds, repairs raft punctures and collects drinking water from two solar stills in order to survive.
Michael Tougias’ Books
Finally, Michael Tougias, an award winning, best-selling author known for his fast paced writing style and character-driven stories, has written and co-authored 23 books. Below are five of his most exceptional, all of which are truly amazing reads:
Ten Hours Until Dawn: The True Story of Heroism and Tragedy Aboard the Can Do (2005)
In the midst of the Blizzard of 1978, the tanker Global Hope floundered in Salem Sound off the Massachusetts coast. Ten Hours Until Dawn tells the story of a Captain’s decision to ready a forty-nine-foot steel boat, the Can Do, and enter the maelstrom after learning that a Coast Guard patrol boat succumbed to the ocean’s turbulent forces and failed to reach them.
Fatal Forecast: An Incredible True Tale of Disaster and Survival at Sea (2006)
Fatal Forecast provides a moment-by-moment account of 72 hours at sea in the lives of eight young fisherman who, in 1980, were caught in a furious maelstrom off the coast of Cape Cod that battered their boats with sixty-foot waves and hurricane force winds.
The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue (2009)
In the winter of 1952, during one of the most brutal nor’easters in years, two oil tankers in the Atlantic ocean split in two, leaving dozens of men on board trapped inside the broken halves of the two ships. The Finest Hours tells their story of survival, as the men hurl themselves into the raging sea, fighting off treacherous winter winds and waves.
Overboard!: A True Blue-water Odyssey of Disaster and Survival (2010)
Overboard! recounts the 2005 story of a 5-day voyage on a forty-five-foot-long sailboat from Connecticut across the Gulf Stream to Bermuda that leaves two crewmembers fighting for their lives in a tumultuous sea, while the others attempt to stay aboard a vessel that is slowly being torn apart by the storm. The search and rescue mission proved to be equally dangerous, and was later selected as the Coast Guard’s “search and rescue case of the year.”
A Storm Too Soon: A True Story of Disaster, Survival and an Incredible Rescue (2013)
A 2007 disaster-at-sea that prompted one of the largest and most intense rescues in Coast Guard history, A Storm Too Soon tells the equally riveting story of three men – including a Captain who was suffering from 9 broken ribs – fighting for their lives on a raft 250 miles out to sea in the Gulf Stream, and the ensuing rescue mission that seems nearly impossible. Both men and Coast Guardsmen battle hurricane force winds, eighty-foot waves and a question of how – and whether – they will ever make it out alive.
For more nonfiction adventure and survival book recommendations, please feel free to contact us. You can also share your favorites by leaving a comment below.
See also our post on the perfect Father’s Day song.