'An epic of survival' -- MICHAEL PALIN
'A "grade-A classic"' -- SUNDAY TIMES
'Utterly enthralling' -- GEOFF DYER, GUARDIAN
'Deeply engrossing' -- NEW YORK TIMES
LISTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE TIMES, NEW STATESMAN, SUNDAY TIMES
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.
A "grade-A classic" that's feverishly compelling ... this story has everything
Exquisitely researched and deeply engrossing
An epic of survival. A mixture of chaos and great courage; part Monty Python sketch, part real-life heroics
The next great contribution to polar literature. A wild tale, so well told and immersively researched
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
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
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"
A riveting true-life horror story ... an obscure but important history transformed by deep research and note-perfect storytelling into a classic thriller
Artfully constructed, written with evenly-paced poise and with a kind of dread-filled assurance, it grips from first sentence to last