When Your Life Depends on It focuses on the harrowing, real, life-and-death decisions made by early Antarctic explorers…

offering lessons from their decisions to help us make better personal and business decisions in our lives today.

One page flyer about the book


Life and death decisions in the Antarctic and what we can learn from them for modern-day personal and business decision making

Dr. David M. Wilson

Descendant of Dr. Edward Wilson who died with Scott on their return from South Pole in 1912

David Wilson is an Antarctic historian and author of

as well as other books on the Heroic Age

Foreword by Dr. David M. Wilson

My great uncle may be known to the world as Dr. Edward Wilson, Antarctic explorer and scientist — a gifted artist; friend of Sir Ernest Shackleton; chief of scientific staff to Captain Robert Scott; and in every respect a pivotal figure in what has become known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. To me, however, he was simply family.

Great-uncle Ted. That’s how I knew him when I was growing up in the Wilson household.  My grandfather’s beloved older brother. I never met my great-uncle — he died in Antarctica on the return from the South Pole in 1912, years before I was born — but I knew my grandfather and remember how he talked of his brother.

To give you an idea of what Edward Wilson endured in the name of science, discovery and exploration, envision this scene from the Winter Journey in 1911:

Great-uncle Ted and his two colleagues were lying inside a small, uninsulated rock-sided shelter in the middle of an Antarctic winter, listening to the screaming wind of a blizzard as it raged outside. Suddenly their tent, pitched nearby, blew away; followed a short time later by the roof of their shelter. They were left exposed to the full ferocity of the icy tumult. Death stared them in the face. It was my great uncle’s 39th birthday.

Without shelter they may not survive the night; without a tent, they would surely not survive the trip back.

Why even embark on such a life threatening journey in the coldest, darkest part of the year? How did they live to tell the tale and what exactly did they discover?  And importantly, what lessons can we learn from this remarkable team that can help with our modern lives?

When Your Life Depends on It is a page-turner with true stories that will sear you to the depth of your soul. It brings to life a time when ordinary people faced extraordinary challenges as they pushed forward the boundaries of human knowledge against powerful forces in a hostile environment. The stories and the decision making lessons derived from them will stay with you for the rest of your life.

A treasure-trove of epic adventures from the six major Antarctic expeditions from the heroic era, this book has a central focus on the life and death decisions the men made on the ice. My great-uncle Ted was on two of those expeditions. It is only when you realise that all of the people in these stories are normal human beings like you and me that the enormity of what they achieved will astonish you.

The message of this book is clear. You can also rise to the challenges in your life with similar courage. The stories may be from over one hundred years ago, but the lessons in how to set and achieve goals, face challenges and counter adversity and risk, with teamwork, leadership, sheer grit, and the determination are timeless.

Their accomplishments were achieved by flesh and blood, like you and I, and so set a benchmark for our lives today. After reading When Your Life Depends on It you have every chance of making better decisions in your personal and business life. Challenges, adversity and risk? You can learn to take them in your stride just as my great-uncle did.

Dr. Edward Wilson is one of the men in the photograph on the book’s cover. 

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