May 7th 2016


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Safe Schools: Sorry, chef, but the entire sex-ed menu's off!

CANBERRA OBSERVED Mild unpopularity of Libs preferable to ALP slogans

EDITORIAL Turnbull's stuttering election gambit

ENERGY Media shows no interest in Shorten's renewables plan

LEGISLATION Viability bill at least a baby step for the babies

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Intifada of the Knife: Israel's unknown war

FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Gender symmetry: women can be as abusive as men

ECONOMICS AND POLITICS Overhauling Australia will require more than a tinker

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Media gush over study only to find same-sex parents more irritable

RESEARCH The scientific objectivity of gender difference (Part One of two parts)

CINEMA Mowgli takes on the lore: The Jungle Book

BOOK REVIEW A sliver of hope

BOOK REVIEW A primer on Western civilisation

BOOK REVIEW Of ships and shots

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BOOK REVIEW
Of ships and shots




News Weekly, May 7, 2016

 

ENDURANCE

by Tim Griffiths

(Allan & Unwin, Sydney)
Paperback: 368 pages
Price: AUD$29.99

 

Reviewed by Michael E. Daniel

 

One famous photograph from World War I, well known to Australians, shows three diggers standing on duckboards, with the desolate remnants of Chateau Wood as the backdrop. The photographer was Frank Hurley, who shot such scenes of desolation after surviving Mawson’s and Shackleton’s expeditions to Antarctica.

Endurance is the first novel by emerging writer Tim Griffiths, a lawyer by profession. It recounts Frank Hurley’s life from childhood until his return to Australia at the end of World War I.

Griffiths first learned of Hurley’s photography when in New Guinea, which led him to discover the breathtaking photographs Hurley took of the ice-bound ship Endurance, and of men surviving in the Antarctic against the forces of nature.

The novel begins with Hurley running away from an abusive father as a young teenager. He ends up in Lithgow, where he is mentored by a fellow worker who is an amateur photographer. Hurley soon learns photography skills, and by the time he is a young adult, he has established a reputation as a postcard photographer.

His own postcard printing business is initially successful but soon fails, and it is at this point that he applies to join Douglas Mawson’s expedition to the Antarctic as the photographer.

Immediately before the expedition, which lasted from 1911 to 1914, he learns how to shoot moving pictures, then in their infancy. Photos from this expedition are perhaps the earliest and best remembered of Hurley’s work.

Having survived the rigours of this expedition, Hurley volunteers for the Shackleton expedition that set out in 1914. The novel recounts, from Hurley’s perspective, the incredible story of survival. Trapped in ice, the expedition members survive on the Endurance, the ship after which the novel is named. Just before the ship sinks under pressure from the ice surrounding it, the party salvages supplies, including some of Hurley’s negatives.

After being rescued in 1916, Hurley travels to London, only to be informed that he must return to South Georgia Island to film more penguins to complete the film of the Shackleton expedition. Once this task is done, he is appointed a photographer in the AIF. Determined to record the horrors of war, Hurley acts contrary to orders by entering battle areas to take photos.

Endurance is a mixed bag. The descriptions of Hurley witnessing and coming to terms with the horrors of war are moving, as is the incredible narrative of his survival after the Endurance is lost. However, much of the middle section of the novel that focuses on Shackleton’s expedition is laboured, and could be more concise.

Although the novel is the product of extensive research, some minor factual errors were noticed – for example, Griffiths lists AIF as standing for Australian Infantry Force, rather than Australian Imperial Force. However, on balance, it is a reasonable read.

Michael E. Daniel is a freelance writer.


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