Books

Two Book Tango: The White Darkness and Mountains of Madness

 

Welcome to another installment of Two Book Tango: an ongoing series in which Unbound Worlds pairs two titles that go well together. Today’s pairing is The White Darkness by David Grann, and At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft.

The Antarctic remains one of the most mysterious places on Earth. While satellites have managed to photograph the continent, there are many places where no person has ever walked. With the exception of rotating teams of scientists stationed at scattered research stations, there’s not a permanent human population in Antarctica, making this brutal land one of the loneliest places on the planet. 

The exploration of Antarctica has a somewhat tragic history. For every brave soul who successfully traversed its wintry interiors, there are many more who died making the attempt. It is an unforgiving land for the unprepared, but even the best planned expeditions can go awry — with lethal results. 

 Despite, or perhaps because of, the continent’s dangers, it continues to attract daredevils and explorers in search of a challenge. Some of them, like their historical forebears, find death waiting amidst the ice and snow. Here are two tales of tragedy and terror in Antarctica: one a true story, the other a work of fiction.

  • The cover of the book The White Darkness

    The White Darkness

    Henry Worsley was a devoted husband and father and a decorated British special forces officer who believed in honor and sacrifice. He was also a man obsessed. He spent his life idolizing Ernest Shackleton, the nineteenth-century polar explorer, who tried to become the first person to reach the South Pole, and later sought to cross Antarctica on foot. Shackleton never completed his journeys, but he repeatedly rescued his men from certain death, and emerged as one of the greatest leaders in history.

    Worsley felt an overpowering connection to those expeditions. He was related to one of Shackleton’s men, Frank Worsley, and spent a fortune collecting artifacts from their epic treks across the continent. He modeled his military command on Shackleton’s legendary skills and was determined to measure his own powers of endurance against them. He would succeed where Shackleton had failed, in the most brutal landscape in the world.

    In 2008, Worsley set out across Antarctica with two other descendants of Shackleton’s crew, battling the freezing, desolate landscape, life-threatening physical exhaustion, and hidden crevasses. Yet when he returned home he felt compelled to go back. On November 13, 2015, at age 55, Worsley bid farewell to his family and embarked on his most perilous quest: to walk across Antarctica alone.

    David Grann tells Worsley’s remarkable story with the intensity and power that have led him to be called “simply the best narrative nonfiction writer working today.” Illustrated with more than fifty stunning photographs from Worsley’s and Shackleton’s journeys, The White Darkness is both a gorgeous keepsake volume and a spellbinding story of courage, love, and a man pushing himself to the extremes of human capacity.

     
  • The cover of the book At the Mountains of Madness

    At the Mountains of Madness

    The Definitive Edition

    Long acknowledged as a master of nightmarish visions, H. P. Lovecraft established the genuineness and dignity of his own pioneering fiction in 1931 with his quintessential work of supernatural horror, At the Mountains of Madness. The deliberately told and increasingly chilling recollection of an Antarctic expedition’s uncanny discoveries–and their encounter with untold menace in the ruins of a lost civilization–is a milestone of macabre literature. 

    This exclusive new edition, presents Lovecraft’s masterpiece in fully restored form, and includes his acclaimed scholarly essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature.” This is essential reading for every devotee of classic terror.