While these are not necessarily Christian books, they none-the-less illustrate the value of leadership, courage, and endurance, which we must have as Christian leaders.
“Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
This is the story of Ernest Shackleton, who was the captain of a ship trapped in the ice near the South Pole. When the expedition goes bad, he and 28 of his men spend nearly two years a drift in one of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world.
I like anything written by Canadian author, Pierre Burton, who writes history in a compelling way, especially Canadian history, which came alive for me as a young man. His most notable works are about the Klondike, The Arctic, The Mounties, and some real interesting people.
Ancient Mariner: The Arctic Adventures of Samuel Hearne
In Ken McGoogan’s, “Ancient Mariner”, he introduced me to Samuel Hearne, who was a young sailor from England who ended up living among the natives in northern Manitoba during the late 1700‘s. He began to travel on foot around the Hudson Bay region with a tribe, whose survival in such harsh conditions is shocking. This is not a bright or happy book, but one it does illustrate how Westerner’s can relate to indigenous people, building mutual respect.
Wilderness man: The strange story of Grey Owl by Lovat Dickson
This is also a sad but fascinating story of Archie Belaney who later became internationally known as Grey Owl, a Canadian half-breed. Indian. But immediately after he dies, we learn that he actually grew up in England. He had adopted their customs, language, and out-door living skills while living in Northern Ontario and Quebec. He had written some books about life in the wilderness and was invited on a book and lecture tour in England and parts of Europe in the early 1900‘s. He was one of the first naturalist he foresaw . A fascinating man and it makes one want to experience the feeling and sense of nature he so obviously had. Too bad most of his books are now out of print. Definitely worth reading.
Seven Years in Tibet
This book moved me on a number of levels. It is not only a adventure story, but contains a rare look into a time and culture that no longer exist. It is the adventure of a young Austrian mountaineer named Heinrich Harrer, who was interned in India during WW2. As he escaped
“Never Cry Wolf” by Farley Mowat
This book is the story of Mowat as a young Game Warden sent by train and float plane into the northern most regions of Canada to evaluate the effect of wolf depredations on the caribou herds. What he finds out is both a fascinating story and a sad reality. The movie version of the book is truly unique and really well done.
“We Die Alone”
This is the true story of Jan Baalsrud, who survived in the arctic region of Norway during WW2 when he attempted to land on a remote coast as a saboteur. The raid failed almost immediately and all the men in his commando squad were killed by the Nazis’ and he was wounded. For the next long while he evaded capture with the help of the local people who helped him make his way to neutral Sweden.
Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose, is the story of E (Easy) Company of the 101st Airborne Division in World War II. This is the story of a group of men who went through extremely difficult training under a maladjusted commander, only to realize that it made them the best company in the army. Most of the history books I have found write from a distance, dealing mostly in facts, dates, and statistics, but Ambrose has a way of telling you stories about people and circumstances that make you want to learn more about the facts.
“Four Against the Arctic”
Shipwrecked for Six Years at the Top of the World by David Roberts
There were these four Russian sailors who had become stranded on a sub-arctic island for six years. They not only survived but thrived in a way that makes this one of the most unusual feats of arctic survival on record. The book is primarily about the author’s effort of trying to verify the facts of this unbelievable story, which takes him from the museum where he found their artifacts to the very island itself.
1776 by David McCullough
McCullough has a wonderful way of writing history and makes it come alive. He made me appreciate George Washington and the American Revolution in a way I had not before. This book also made me realize how slender a hope there was that we would even become a country, much less a great country as we are today. This book is best experienced on audio CD.
“The River of Doubt” by Candice Millard
This book tells the story of the 1914 expedition of Theodore Roosevelt and his Brazilian co-commander Rondon as they make their way down 400 miles of one of the last unexplored tributaries of the Amazon, called the “River of Doubt”. This difficult trip became more of a survival story than just another adventure.
“Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon” (2002) is Edward Dolnick’s story of Major John Wesley Powell leading the first expedition down the Canyon in 1869. Powell set out to explore the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon with nine men, four boats, and enough food to last for ten months, but with they lost in the first couple of weeks on the river. It is as great an adventure story as you will find with lots of leadership lessons woven into it.
This is the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition to discover the American West. If you read the book, then listen to it on audio format, and watch the PBS documentary, you will still not be able to get enough of this story.