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Tom Crean Book: “Sailor on Ice”

Praise for “Sailor on Ice”:

–from Dr. Robert Swan, whose 1984 expedition “In the Footsteps of Scott” was the first to repeat Crean’s lonely journey after an interval of 73 years:

“I DO BELIEVE that you must have been part of those days in some way. . . .You have caught it with a passion and detail often the two do not make easy bed fellows. . . .I cannot express my regards for you more highly”


“Tom Crean is the man you want to, “have your back”, in a tight spot. He is the essence of steadfast loyalty. His clear head, and quick reactions will leave you wishing he was your shipmate. When you finish the book, you will feel that he was. David Hirzel puts you on the ice with Tom. I’ll never complain of the cold again. Couldn’t put it down. Buy it.” –Jack T.

“The book was wonderful and provided a style of writing that made you imagine you were right next to Tom Crean. You can feel the mental and physical rigors this man and the entire group went through. It was hard to put down and after finishing it have already given it to someone to enjoy it as well. A truly amazing read and I highly recommend it.” –T. C.


“. . . .a good read written by someone who has a passion for the subject.” Robert Stephenson,

–from Monty S.: “I finished your book. Enjoyed it immensely. It made me feel like I was really in the frigid Antarctica (or at least that you had been there).”

–from Nancy R.: “Reading your “Sailor on Ice” was a real adventure…cold on the outside and warm on the inside. Your beautiful words brought me into the midst of the brave men in the desolate scene. I couldn’t put it down.”

“Sailor on Ice: Tom Crean with Scott in the Antarctic 1910-1913” by David Hirzel is now available from Terra Nova Press. To order click on the link “Buy Tom Crean Book” at the left of the page.

From the INTRODUCTION to “Sailor on Ice”:

Some men are born for the sea. They run away to it early in life, and it shapes their adolescence and young manhood, their view of themselves and the world, and everything that follows. Tom Crean was one such a man.

A sailor’s world is defined by the boundaries set by the rail of his ship. Beyond that rail, at an indeterminate distance, he sees but cannot reach the endless circle of the horizon dividing the blue water below from the blue sky above. It appears the same wherever in the world his ship may be, afloat on the heaving swells of any one of the seven seas. The sky and water may not always be blue—they may be gray, white with driving foam and fog, obscured by night, defined by stars, calm and flat as a mirror glass or risen in waves beaten by ceaseless gales. It is always so, changeless and ever changing, the same and never the same.

This is in part the allure of the sea, this placement of man against nature, overwhelmed by nature, defined by nature, and if he comes home to tell the tale, in some small measure triumphant against forces far greater than his limited power.

The call of the ice is not so different from the call of the sea. The horizon is much the same, the sky above as blue while the ice below has taken the place of water as far as the eye can see. The ice can assume many colors other than its anticipated white; descriptions of it are full of words like azure, lemon, topaz, aquamarine. But its apparent end is still a horizon always out of reach, its undulations and sudden motions as treacherous as a rogue wave to the unwary traveler. Some men are born with a love of this.

The sound of brash ice scraping along the side of the ship with a sound like broken glass shaken in a box is a lullaby to their ears, a familiar song they know long before the first time the hear it. The ever present knowledge that their ship might be gored by a floe and sink without a trace only serves to heighten their desire. “What the ice gets, the ice keeps.” Shackleton was referring to more than the doomed Endurance splintering under the irresistible pressure of sea-ice in motion.

Sir Ernest Shackleton had known the siren call of the hundreds of miles of the unbroken plain of the Barrier ice, the slow-motion rapids of the glacier, the bleak white desert of the plateau, the coldest place on earth. A host of other explorers had followed the call of the ice and come home with tales of wonder and suffering, as though the two experiences were somehow unalterably linked.

Tom Crean heard it too.

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