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Race to the Pole: Tragedy, Heroism, and Scott's Antarctic Quest

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Now in paperback, the real story of Captain Robert Scott's legendary Antarctic quest, told by the man whom the Guinness Book of World Records has proclaimed "the world's greatest living explorer"In 1911, Captain Robert Scott and his competitor Roald Amundsen conquered the unconquerable: Antarctica. This perilous race to the South Pole claimed the life of Scott and became t Now in paperback, the real story of Captain Robert Scott's legendary Antarctic quest, told by the man whom the Guinness Book of World Records has proclaimed "the world's greatest living explorer"In 1911, Captain Robert Scott and his competitor Roald Amundsen conquered the unconquerable: Antarctica. This perilous race to the South Pole claimed the life of Scott and became the stuff of legend, as well as scrutiny. This compelling, meticulously researched history of Captain Scott and his fatal journey, by renowned modern-day explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, holder of 10 expeditionary records, is the definitive account of this hotly debated quest. Fiennes offers an account of Scott's motivations and aspirations for the Pole, and his historic clash with Amundsen over goals and approaches. He also reveals the unpredictably disastrous weather patterns that led to the extreme cold that ultimately doomed Scott's return trip. Infused with the intensity of fiction and exhibiting an exhaustive eye for detail found in the greatest historical biographies, Race to the Pole is a prodigious achievement and certain to become a classic in the literature of exploration.


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Now in paperback, the real story of Captain Robert Scott's legendary Antarctic quest, told by the man whom the Guinness Book of World Records has proclaimed "the world's greatest living explorer"In 1911, Captain Robert Scott and his competitor Roald Amundsen conquered the unconquerable: Antarctica. This perilous race to the South Pole claimed the life of Scott and became t Now in paperback, the real story of Captain Robert Scott's legendary Antarctic quest, told by the man whom the Guinness Book of World Records has proclaimed "the world's greatest living explorer"In 1911, Captain Robert Scott and his competitor Roald Amundsen conquered the unconquerable: Antarctica. This perilous race to the South Pole claimed the life of Scott and became the stuff of legend, as well as scrutiny. This compelling, meticulously researched history of Captain Scott and his fatal journey, by renowned modern-day explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, holder of 10 expeditionary records, is the definitive account of this hotly debated quest. Fiennes offers an account of Scott's motivations and aspirations for the Pole, and his historic clash with Amundsen over goals and approaches. He also reveals the unpredictably disastrous weather patterns that led to the extreme cold that ultimately doomed Scott's return trip. Infused with the intensity of fiction and exhibiting an exhaustive eye for detail found in the greatest historical biographies, Race to the Pole is a prodigious achievement and certain to become a classic in the literature of exploration.

30 review for Race to the Pole: Tragedy, Heroism, and Scott's Antarctic Quest

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zinger

    This book is about artic exploration of Antarctica, focusing on Captain Robert Scott's two expeditions (1901-04 and 1910-13). Scott and his team members that reached the South Pole suffered from horribly cold weather and starvation, which eventually claimed their lives during to their return journey. The author of the book, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, also an artic adventurer, gives great insights into the story having personal knowledge of the harsh conditions and equipment used in artic travel. He is This book is about artic exploration of Antarctica, focusing on Captain Robert Scott's two expeditions (1901-04 and 1910-13). Scott and his team members that reached the South Pole suffered from horribly cold weather and starvation, which eventually claimed their lives during to their return journey. The author of the book, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, also an artic adventurer, gives great insights into the story having personal knowledge of the harsh conditions and equipment used in artic travel. He is also well versed in all the journals and books of the men associated with the expeditions. The discussions about what it takes to be a great leader and how to survive in so desperate of circumstances, makes the book a worthwhile read. Besides telling the story of Captain Scott, another purpose of the book was to reclaim Scott’s reputation from recent authors who harshly criticized his character and judgment, twisting the truth even to the point of lying. Towards the end of the book Fiennes criticizes the modern trend of destroying past hero’s by authors today. The real victory of Captian Robert Scott was to remain true to his principles and good natured to the end, a feat many on his expedition who survived were unable to do.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I've read a few other books on polar exploration, and it was interesting to read one written by an author with actual polar experience. Fiennes' experiences on polar expeditions helped inform his views on Scott, and add depth and context to the writing of this book. I think he mainly did a good job of remaining unbiased, or did until the end of the book, when he traces the history of Scott's reputation. Apparently there has been a complex history of lionization/bastardization of his character, m I've read a few other books on polar exploration, and it was interesting to read one written by an author with actual polar experience. Fiennes' experiences on polar expeditions helped inform his views on Scott, and add depth and context to the writing of this book. I think he mainly did a good job of remaining unbiased, or did until the end of the book, when he traces the history of Scott's reputation. Apparently there has been a complex history of lionization/bastardization of his character, most of the negativity hailing from a single poorly sourced and biased biography. As far as I can tell, Fiennes does a good job of presenting primary source information and offering a clear representation of historical events.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jane Goldberg

    I really wanted to like this nonfiction books about the last 1800s and the quite a bit of the problems faced by Polar Explorers from the 1900s up to the 70s-80s. What I didn’t like about this author’s presentation of facts downplayed and didn’t provide proven facts to support the tainted stores of canned goods. But for the fact that I already knew why many of these tins of meat were contaminated and many cans contained merely bones in cans that were supposed to have what the label said was in the I really wanted to like this nonfiction books about the last 1800s and the quite a bit of the problems faced by Polar Explorers from the 1900s up to the 70s-80s. What I didn’t like about this author’s presentation of facts downplayed and didn’t provide proven facts to support the tainted stores of canned goods. But for the fact that I already knew why many of these tins of meat were contaminated and many cans contained merely bones in cans that were supposed to have what the label said was in the cans. Many other canned goods were punctured such that the contents of the cans became poisonous. This sabotage is a significant reason for the many aborted Expeditions; four poisoning and lead contamination from these cans were infecting all who ate those cans that actually had what the label said. Poor seals of the canned food, deliberate small punctures committed by the employees employed by Hungarian food processing plant were themselves starving as the result of slave wages so they ate what they could and sabotaged many other cans in protest. The botulism knocked most, if not all of these ship’s crew for told the failure of several Expeditions. The author just glazed over this significant set of facts should never have been described in the few sentences the author gave the reader. Additionally, he bad mouths other nonfiction writers’ accounts of the stories as completely wrong. The explores this author says that what they wrote in their biographies is inaccurate because these writer couldn’t possibly know the facts about treks that took place more than a century ago. But the same standard of measurement, this author tells what he touts as the credible account of the Expeditions that took place before he was born If he is constrained to previously written works for the basis of this book, how dare he rely on books he goes out of his way to disparage? The book lacks honest appraisals of writers who completed their works contemporaneously with the news and the explorers who published articles about their adventures and the dangers they faced . The book appears to knock down others’ accomplishments in an attempt to con his readers into believing his book is the seminal and only accurate portrayal of the Expeditions to the South Pole. Even more disturbing, are the very obvious pages of those who, before he was even born, wrote their first person accounts of their own experiences. I admit that I’m listening to this book in audiobook format. I can only hope that the physical book contains a huge number of citations and footnotes. The audiobook version doesn’t make reference to any citations nor footnotes. If I hadn’t read or listened to every single Polar Expeditions, I would not has such a firm foundation upon which I can see those spots where this author did not conduct a comprehensive study of the Great Explorers’ proven facts. As a result, a reader totally familiar with these expeditions, an unlearned reader would take the book as a perfectly factual recount of the stories of the Great Explores. Point in fact. He brings up Shackelton’s very poor health. But he doesn’t detail HOW Shackelton became so infirm. At least he gives credit where credit is due to Shack who, while incapacitated, continued to help guide the crew successfully to their goal and back while only losing to frostbite and scurvy just a few of his crew. Kudos to this author for that, at least. If this book was submitted for either a Master’s or PH.d thesis, in the fact of grueling questions by the faculty, they could easily dismiss this thesis because he omitted key facts, facts that adversely hurt the Expeditions. Pick a better researched book if you’re looking to get the real story of Antarctic Expeditions. This writer chose to detail WHY the crews got sick from the food.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    If I didn't read Huntford himself, whatever previous book I read about Scott was, per Fiennes critical critique of him, based on Huntford. I had been under the impression that Scott didn't use horse snowshoes, for example, which is not true. I was also under the impression that Scott going with a five-man, rather than four-man, party for the push to the Pole was a last-minute decision. Also not true, it seems. I was under the impression that he didn't adequately ration for the extra person. Not t If I didn't read Huntford himself, whatever previous book I read about Scott was, per Fiennes critical critique of him, based on Huntford. I had been under the impression that Scott didn't use horse snowshoes, for example, which is not true. I was also under the impression that Scott going with a five-man, rather than four-man, party for the push to the Pole was a last-minute decision. Also not true, it seems. I was under the impression that he didn't adequately ration for the extra person. Not true on the push itself and arguably not true as far as how the depot stockpiles worked out. Instead, what got Scott and his men killed was the unseasonably cold weather on the ice shelf on their return, once they got back off the land plateau. To a lesser extent, what got them killed was Oates and Taffy Evans not being fully honest about injuries they had before Scott made his final decision who would be in the polar push party. That said, there was nothing Scott could do about the weather. And, he wasn't a mind-reader, so he couldn't have done anything more than he did as things played out about the injuries. That said, while horses may have been faster at times, and while the Antarctic is not as suited as the Arctic for dogs, nonetheless, it wasn't just Amundsen not doing scientific work, or being about 45 miles closer at the start, that got him to the pole quicker. (Not just earlier, but quicker; Amundsen's trip took two weeks less on the way down, and much quicker on the way back, even making allowances for the deterioration of conditions of both weather and his own party for Scott. Also, as compared to information elsewhere, Fiennes seems to overstate how much closer Amundsen got.) Also, British, or general modern, penchant for debunking aside? There are elements of Scott's Edwardian England/Britain (and much of Europe) that DID need changing. Nansen's upset aside, why shouldn't Amundsen switch from Arctic to Antarctic once he heard about Peary's (alleged) and Cooke's (definitely untrue) North Pole success? At least he did the courtesy of having a different start site. He got lucky his camp didn't split off the ice barrier and got lucky to find a good route up on to the plateau. And? Luck is a big element in the expedition world, as Fiennes knows. That said, for that paragraph and above, I can't five-star the book. Fiennes ignores the problems with horses (such as their sweating in such cold weather). He claims that both horses and dogs had to have provisions transported when Amundsen did what Peary did and planned to selectively kill dogs to feed others. (Part of Scott's horses were killed for human provisions.) Fiennes also gives too much absolution to Scott for his failure to handle Oates better, especially for not insisting that Oates use the horse snowshoes regularly. Related to that, we can blame Scott for including Oates on the polar push even if he didn't know about Oates' bum leg. Fiennes also gives Scott a pass for the complexity of his provision system vs Amundsen. He seems to overstate the difficulties with dogs in the south and arguably overstates man-hauling abilities. Wiki has a good page comparing the two expeditions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compari... In short, this is not bad revisionist history, but it's not great either because Fiennes pushes too much and protests too much.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Fiennes’ goal in writing his biography of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott was to banish any doubt about him as a leader. The rampant slander of Scott by a particular biographer in the last quarter of the 20th century was unjustified, but ultimately damaged the deceased explorer’s reputation. I found Fiennes’ research and objectivity phenomenal and the story itself was utterly fascinating. I had never read about polar exploration before, and Scott’s two great endeavors (1901-1904 & 1911-191 Fiennes’ goal in writing his biography of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott was to banish any doubt about him as a leader. The rampant slander of Scott by a particular biographer in the last quarter of the 20th century was unjustified, but ultimately damaged the deceased explorer’s reputation. I found Fiennes’ research and objectivity phenomenal and the story itself was utterly fascinating. I had never read about polar exploration before, and Scott’s two great endeavors (1901-1904 & 1911-1913) were legendary. Considering the time period and the primitive gear, as well as the unknown nature of the continent, it’s amazing they accomplished what they did when there was no prior experience (let alone maps) of the region. Scott and his brave team charted unknown interior territories, conducted various scientific experiments, and tested different methods of getting around ice shelves and glaciers. The ever-changing, unpredictable weather was their worse adversary. Uncooperative dog sled teams and stubborn ponies didn’t help much in hauling their supplies. So much of their exploration was done via man-hauling. Literally each man dragged hundreds of pounds on sleds through Antarctica in the most inhospitable landscape in the world. It is the outcome of Scott’s return from the South Pole that is truly tragic. He and 4 of his closest companions (and the toughest men on his expedition) would perish, 3 of them just shy of a supply depot that could have kept them alive. In a case of so close yet so far away, what these men endured in the last days of their life is horrific. But as Fiennes vehemently declares, the disaster was not the fault of Scott or any one individual. It was a bad combination of circumstances that were beyond anyone’s control. Scott ‘s leadership was rarely called into question by his own men and he achieved more than anyone had on that hostile continent up to that point. Fiennes’ own experience in arctic/Antarctic makes him the perfect man to tell Scott’s story. He has persevered through the same landscape and conditions that Scott and his men had (and has the missing fingers to prove it). I also enjoyed a few literary tidbits: Scott named his only son Peter after his friend James Barrie’s most famous character and funding for the second expedition was bolstered by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The sense of adventure and the foray into the unknown were incredibly compelling and I loved the whole saga. I’m especially glad I chose to read it during the muggy month of August.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Although blatantly biased, a readable and interesting account of Scott’s trips to Antarctica and tragic demise.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen C

    Loved this book. Amazing story- better than fiction!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nick Crisanti

    A great adventure story written by one who has been to the pole himself. Excellent.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Bengston

    Excellent tale of Scott's goal to reach the Antarctic. Very detailed, which includes info about the men who went with Scott, what they endured, and even discussions. Excellent tale of Scott's goal to reach the Antarctic. Very detailed, which includes info about the men who went with Scott, what they endured, and even discussions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    In 1911 and 1912, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen both mounted expeditions to the South Pole. Amundsen got their first and Scott's final pole team, himself and four others, died on their return voyage. Ever since, their has been great debate about Amundsen's honor (he disguised his attempt on the South Pole as a trip to the North Pole until it was too late for Scott to alter his plans in any significant way) and Scott's effectiveness as a leader. In books, one side of that debate is best In 1911 and 1912, Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen both mounted expeditions to the South Pole. Amundsen got their first and Scott's final pole team, himself and four others, died on their return voyage. Ever since, their has been great debate about Amundsen's honor (he disguised his attempt on the South Pole as a trip to the North Pole until it was too late for Scott to alter his plans in any significant way) and Scott's effectiveness as a leader. In books, one side of that debate is best represented by Roland Huntford's The Last Place on Earth, which depicts Scott as a mistake-ridden bully, while the other side is best reflected by this book, which redraws Scott as a reasonable man thwarted only by the weather and a few other bad breaks. While the truth is probably somewhere imbetween the two accounts, I find Fiennes more convincing. His work reflects a greater understanding of the challenges of polar travel, expedition leadership, and Antarctic weather, all of which he has directly experienced and Huntford has not. He also shows a greater familiarity with the breadth of journals, diaries, and other accounts of the Scott and Amundsen expeditions. In fact the only reason I take one star off my rating is that Fiennes' debunking of Huntford becomes so thorough at the end of Race to the Pole that it bogs down the finish of the book and begins to make you wonder if Fiennes has a chip on his shoulder of some kind that he isn't telling you about. But until that finish, this is a work of great scholarship and great storytelling. Fiennes depicts Scott as a strong planner whose expedition achieved important scientific advances despite its sad end. It's not however, a hagiography, Fiennes does acknowledge various mistakes made by Scott and his men along the way. Amundsen, in contrast, had no scientific program and merely reached the Pole first, using tactics, that particularly in climate of the historical time were ethically questionable. Fiennes' portrayal of Scott and his various men has real psychological depth and the story, no matter who tells it, is just plain compelling. In sum, this is an exciting book that will make its readers careful very knowledgable about polar exploration and the controversy surrounding Scott. Read this book first.

  11. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    This biography on Captain Scott by Ranulph Fiennes will rank in my top ten books for 2003. I have to confess that I have no in-depth knowledge on artic travel and exploration other than having read a few good books on the subject. Having said that, out of the books that I have read on the subject this has to be the best so far. In any book I read I always have a look at the background (or pedigree) of the author. In this case Ranulph Fiennes has the personal experience of many years of artic tra This biography on Captain Scott by Ranulph Fiennes will rank in my top ten books for 2003. I have to confess that I have no in-depth knowledge on artic travel and exploration other than having read a few good books on the subject. Having said that, out of the books that I have read on the subject this has to be the best so far. In any book I read I always have a look at the background (or pedigree) of the author. In this case Ranulph Fiennes has the personal experience of many years of artic travel & exploration to back up his claims and theories in his account of Captain Scott. By referring to his own experiences in the same areas and similar circumstances you get a much better idea of what was possible and why and what wasn't possible and why. He also is able to put to rest many of the myths and fairy tales surrounding Scott's South Pole expedition and the fate of himself and his companions. After finishing this book I really felt I had a much better understanding of what these brave men attempted and why they failed or didn't fail depending on your point of view. As other reviews have indicated, maybe the author tends to lean to Captain Scott's defence too much but then again maybe Captain's Scott's reputation needs to be picked up from the dust of history and given a good polish again, its well deserved. I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone who wants to know what really happened to Captain Scott. Anyone who enjoys accounts of adventure, of man overcoming adversity or just a decent history book to read, this will suit them down-to-the-ground. I am indebted to the author for passing on his passion for this man, I have learnt a few things and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to read such a well-researched and well-written book, well done to Mr Fiennes! From the back cover: "The real story of one of the greatest explorers who ever lived by the man described by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's greatest living explorer."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Smith

    Thorough, awash with detail and insights into the life of Robert Scott and his ill fated quest for the South Pole. Set in the context of the race itself, although Amundsen and his trip receives but scant coverage. That's OK as this is unapologetically the story of Scott and his side of the trip. Very comprehensive coverage of all Scotts polar adventures - I for one was unaware that he had spent so much time there prior to his final expedition, nor the link between he and fellow explorer Ernest Sh Thorough, awash with detail and insights into the life of Robert Scott and his ill fated quest for the South Pole. Set in the context of the race itself, although Amundsen and his trip receives but scant coverage. That's OK as this is unapologetically the story of Scott and his side of the trip. Very comprehensive coverage of all Scotts polar adventures - I for one was unaware that he had spent so much time there prior to his final expedition, nor the link between he and fellow explorer Ernest Shackleton. The book clearly benefits hugely from being written by a modern day polar explorer who has lived in and through the conditions and the worst that Antarctica can throw at humanity. Fiennes writes with authority and confidence if, at times, I found his prose perhaps a little slow moving. That is nit picking in the overall scheme of the book. It is to his great credit that he gives personal insight sparingly and when it makes a strong contribution to the narrative - it would have been easy for him to include a lot of anecdotes about his own travels and he deftly avoids doing so. It's apparent that he is a Scott admirer and has little regard for Amundsen who was, at the time considered somehthing of a cad for the way he went about the "race" (fooled everyone that he was going to the NORTH pole, used dogs, raced straight there with no scientific agenda unlike Scott etc.) Fiennes seems to share this view of him and it is interesting to hear that side too. I would be at least partially interested to read a bio of Amundsen as well for the purposes of balance. Fiennes makes the point that Scott served his country not just in life but in how he died, claiming it was inspirational on the battlefields of Europe just a couple of years later. To me, that is a bit of a stretch, but again, not a major criticism of what strikes me overall as a well researched, insightful and well written story of Robert Scott and his polar team.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Inder

    Ranulph Fiennes, a polar adventurer in his own right, wrote this book about Robert Falcon Scott's two expeditions to Antarctica. I found this book hard-going at times, but ultimately very compelling, as Fiennes shares his experiences with polar travel and delves deeply into the Antarctic explorers' thoughts, experiences, and diaries. The main purpose of this book was to restore Scott's character, which has apparently been denigrated in recent biographies. Oddly, this was entirely lost on me, bec Ranulph Fiennes, a polar adventurer in his own right, wrote this book about Robert Falcon Scott's two expeditions to Antarctica. I found this book hard-going at times, but ultimately very compelling, as Fiennes shares his experiences with polar travel and delves deeply into the Antarctic explorers' thoughts, experiences, and diaries. The main purpose of this book was to restore Scott's character, which has apparently been denigrated in recent biographies. Oddly, this was entirely lost on me, because I've never read a biography (or really, an uncomplimentary word) about Scott. Thus, I was not the intended audience for this book, but I still enjoyed it. Scott was always a hero to me - after reading this, he seems more human, but he remains a great man. Fiennes is clearly a writer first, adventurer second, and this book has a rambling, tangent-following style that I found a bit difficult at first. I found myself falling into his rhythm soon enough, however. His style is forthright, honest, and guileless - he's no literary historian, but I would follow him into the wastes of Antarctica (well, okay, not really, but I can understand why others would follow him). Fiennes has that rare gift - he speaks honestly, and with clear self-awareness, but also with authority. This book was sadder than I expected (I guess, because I knew how this story ended, I thought it would somehow make it easier to read, but the opposite is true), but absolutely worth reading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This book was captivating, and did great service to possibly the most compelling story of human endeavor, achievement, disappointment & tragedy to come out of the age of Arctic exploration. Well researched & well woven, this was not a bland history but reads like the grand adventure story it was. The author's own antarctic experiences highlight the realities of Scott's two expeditions both on physical & interpersonal levels. Although the balance Fiennes struck with these juxtapositions did not w This book was captivating, and did great service to possibly the most compelling story of human endeavor, achievement, disappointment & tragedy to come out of the age of Arctic exploration. Well researched & well woven, this was not a bland history but reads like the grand adventure story it was. The author's own antarctic experiences highlight the realities of Scott's two expeditions both on physical & interpersonal levels. Although the balance Fiennes struck with these juxtapositions did not work perfectly for me, their inclusion certainly did not detract from the overall work. The last section of the book aggressively debunks the post 1970's popular destruction of Scott's character & legacy. Although I had not read the Huntford book which started the avalanche of negative public opinion, those scathing & apparently largely unfounded character sketches still made up my entire opinion (and knowledge) of Scott & his Polar expeditions. Although this section did leave a bitter taste in my mouth, I understand the need for it & hope that this book does as the author hopes and begins to re-establish Scott as one of the great, true heroes of the 20th century.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    As the exploration of the pole is a relatively new venture, I learned an incredible amount of valuable and current information about the South Pole and Antarctica. I was unaware until after conducting some of my “research” into the pole, but there are whole colonies on Antarctica. In fact, there is a nearly brand new station at the South Pole itself. The station is built on a glacier that is slowly shifting. As for the book itself, Sir Fiennes assumed the role of an apologist on behalf of Scott. As the exploration of the pole is a relatively new venture, I learned an incredible amount of valuable and current information about the South Pole and Antarctica. I was unaware until after conducting some of my “research” into the pole, but there are whole colonies on Antarctica. In fact, there is a nearly brand new station at the South Pole itself. The station is built on a glacier that is slowly shifting. As for the book itself, Sir Fiennes assumed the role of an apologist on behalf of Scott. His efforts to respond to criticisms did interfere with the account, but I appreciate a defense of those who are not present to defend themselves. I find Amundsen’s deceit shameful even by today’s standards, despite what the author says about changing rules of competition among explorers. And perhaps because of the preferences of the author, I am now an admirer of Scott and found his account tragic and heroic at once.

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Barclay

    This is an absolutely outstanding book. At times, it reads more like fiction than fact. Fiennes has an eminently readable style and his depth of research is evident in every page. If you want to know the real story of Scott, this is the book to read. Scott has been criticised by many of his biographers but Fiennes is in the other camp (as am I). Fiennes uses fact rather than speculation and assumption to describe the ill-fated expedition. From Scott's first foray to the Antarctic aboard the Disc This is an absolutely outstanding book. At times, it reads more like fiction than fact. Fiennes has an eminently readable style and his depth of research is evident in every page. If you want to know the real story of Scott, this is the book to read. Scott has been criticised by many of his biographers but Fiennes is in the other camp (as am I). Fiennes uses fact rather than speculation and assumption to describe the ill-fated expedition. From Scott's first foray to the Antarctic aboard the Discovery, to his return on the Terra Nova, Fiennes examines everything that went into the preparation, planning and execution of the great race. This is extraordinary, compelling factual drama. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mzhenya

    This is the only author on the Scott Antarctic expedition who has actually been there done that. He convinced me that his interpretation of events is most accurate. I didn't mind his frequent interjections with personal opinions, experiences and the argumentative style when he felt others portrayed events in false light. I rather enjoyed it, actually. He spent an entire last, and very long, paragraph convincingly trashing the book by Huntford- Scott and Amundsen. Having read this book I lost int This is the only author on the Scott Antarctic expedition who has actually been there done that. He convinced me that his interpretation of events is most accurate. I didn't mind his frequent interjections with personal opinions, experiences and the argumentative style when he felt others portrayed events in false light. I rather enjoyed it, actually. He spent an entire last, and very long, paragraph convincingly trashing the book by Huntford- Scott and Amundsen. Having read this book I lost interest in wanting to reading a famous book- Endurance since, in Fiennes view, Shakekton's expedition paled by comparison. I feIt it was an easy and engaging read even for me who had no prior knowledge about polar expeditions.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Milan

    One of a very few books about Scott written by real polar explorer who knows what it is to be totally frozen in the Antarctic. Different than other books on this topic and very interesting views about Scott's personality, ambitions and motivation for his expedition. Here, Scott is not a senseless, self-sure rather despotic man obsessed only with one thing. No, here, Scott is thoughtful, elegant, respected and admired leader of his men, who cares most about science and exploration and much less a One of a very few books about Scott written by real polar explorer who knows what it is to be totally frozen in the Antarctic. Different than other books on this topic and very interesting views about Scott's personality, ambitions and motivation for his expedition. Here, Scott is not a senseless, self-sure rather despotic man obsessed only with one thing. No, here, Scott is thoughtful, elegant, respected and admired leader of his men, who cares most about science and exploration and much less about the pole itself. And Apsley Cherry-Garrard's book (The worst journey in the world) confirms this view about Scott and his motives. Highly recommended!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Uncleg

    Biography of Robert Falcon Scott, the Royal Navy officer who led two British expeditions to the Antarctic for reasons of science and exploration. Fiennes, a veteran of polar expeditions himself and cousin to actors Joseph and Ralph Fiennes, fiercely defends Scott against his critics. According to Fiennes, the failure of Scott and four colleagues to survive his trip to the South Pole was the result of unseasonal extreme cold and weather conditions, which did not occur again for another 30 years. Biography of Robert Falcon Scott, the Royal Navy officer who led two British expeditions to the Antarctic for reasons of science and exploration. Fiennes, a veteran of polar expeditions himself and cousin to actors Joseph and Ralph Fiennes, fiercely defends Scott against his critics. According to Fiennes, the failure of Scott and four colleagues to survive his trip to the South Pole was the result of unseasonal extreme cold and weather conditions, which did not occur again for another 30 years. BBC Audiobooks America. Read by David Povall.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Darlene Dion

    This book was an excellent read. I learned a lot about expeditions of this time in history. It gave me a greater sense of gratitude for how easy life is today. I have food whenever I want it in my warm home & I don't have to work like these men did. They were burning 7,000 calories a day man-hauling packed sledges on half-rations & in -40 degree F weather day after day. I'm glad I picked a book that describes Scott in a positive light as my first about Antarctic expedition. And the author is an This book was an excellent read. I learned a lot about expeditions of this time in history. It gave me a greater sense of gratitude for how easy life is today. I have food whenever I want it in my warm home & I don't have to work like these men did. They were burning 7,000 calories a day man-hauling packed sledges on half-rations & in -40 degree F weather day after day. I'm glad I picked a book that describes Scott in a positive light as my first about Antarctic expedition. And the author is an amazing adventurer himself.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tim Painter

    This is a great book about the first men who made it to the south pole. Since this is the only book I have read on the subject I was not aware of all the controversy surrounding it. Apparently this book is attempting to present a fair and unbiased look at what really happened. It also gives an excellent account of what it took for those first men to make that trip and just how difficult it was.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A great book, detailing Scott's Antarctic exploration, by an author who's actually man-hauled sledges across Antarctica. A refreshing change from the armchair "explorers" who condemn Scott without truly understanding what he faced. A great book, detailing Scott's Antarctic exploration, by an author who's actually man-hauled sledges across Antarctica. A refreshing change from the armchair "explorers" who condemn Scott without truly understanding what he faced.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    I collect books on exploration of the Antarctic, but first-hand knowledge Fiennes brings--in every respect, 'he's been there'--lends the book an authority which will be hard to equal in a contemporary writer. I collect books on exploration of the Antarctic, but first-hand knowledge Fiennes brings--in every respect, 'he's been there'--lends the book an authority which will be hard to equal in a contemporary writer.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashli

    Great book, this was a fascinating story!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Pretty heavy reading, but engaging and interesting

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    WOW, and I thought Shackleton had it rough. Motivating, explanatory, descriptive, thorough, engaging, controversial! Huge regard for Scott.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Lynch

    It's exciting to read about exploration before technology changed our world. Heroic men looking to challenge themselves and discover the extremes of our world. It's exciting to read about exploration before technology changed our world. Heroic men looking to challenge themselves and discover the extremes of our world.

  28. 4 out of 5

    ~eljefe

    1911 Race to the South Pole! Cra-zy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Martin Richardson

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