Monday, April 14, 2014

Fame, Fortune, and Nationality

On page 13 of Lansing’s Endurance, Shackleton is praised as being “the greatest leader that ever came on God’s earth, bar none” (13). On the following page, it is stated that “when you are in a hopeless situation, when there seems no way out, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton” (14). Having not finished the narrative, but being familiar with Shackleton’s heroic status, there is no doubt that Shackleton’s leadership and his journey across the Antarctic continent were legendary. However, I cannot help but compare Shackleton’s exploits with those of Albanov. Albanov was also a great leader who tried to save as many of his men as possible while going through hell and back. However, whereas Shackleton swiftly achieved fame and fortune as an explorer of one of the most powerful and influential nations in the world, Albanov, unfortunately, due to his nationality and the fact that his story was lost to the annals of history until relatively recently, despite accomplishing an adventure that was just as hazardous as Shackleton’s and which occurred before Shackleton’s expedition, did not achieve much or any fame. Consequently, since Shackleton’s title of “the greatest leader on earth” originated from the renown he received after his Antarctic expedition, I wonder whether this title was due to the merits of his expedition alone or whether it was more a product of his nationality and association with the British Empire. In this case, I wonder if Albanov’s expedition to the Arctic, had he been an explorer with the British Empire and if his story hadn’t been lost to history, would have achieved equal merit and would therefore have rendered him with Shackleton’s magnanimous title.

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