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Think New England Is Cold? Try Antarctica

"The Endurance," frozen in 76/35 South, 1915.
Frank Hurley/State Library of New South Wales

New Englanders suffered last week in the wake of the Bomb Cyclone, but our icy temperatures are nothing compared to what was endured by explorer Ernest Shackleton, the subject of Harvard historian Nancy Koehn's new book.

Koehn joined BPR to talk about the book, "Forged In Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership In Turbulent Times," and set the scene for Shackleton's adventure.

It started after a plan to collect data about Antarctica "for God, king and country" on behalf of the British, just as World War I began.

"The pole was discovered three years earlier, so he's not discovering the pole," she said. "He's going to walk across the entire continent with a team of men and collect scientific specimens."

Koehn described how one faulty choice about waiting to dock the ship, "The Endurance," led to a 497-day ordeal in one of the harshest climates on the planet.

"In that fateful decision lies the entire expedition," said Koehn. "That night ... the ice locks the boat in a vice, and it is stuck."

Koehn said Shackleton's guidance and survival skills kept him and his crewmates alive, and make him a shining example of the power of a strong leader.

Nancy Koehn is an historian at Harvard Business School, where she holds the James E. Robeson Chair of Business Administration. Her latest book is "Forged In Crisis: The Power Of Courageous Leadership In Turbulent Times." To hear her interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.


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