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Scott And Amundsen: The Last Place on Earth

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Scott And Amundsen: The Last Place on Earth.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Roland Huntford(Author)

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, the South Pole was the most coveted prize in the fiercely nationalistic modern age of exploration. In the brilliant dual biography, the award-winning writer Roland Huntford re-examines every detail of the great race to the South Pole between Britain's Robert Scott and Norway's Roald Amundsen. Scott, who dies along with four of his men only eleven miles from his next cache of supplies, became Britain's beloved failure, while Amundsen, who not only beat Scott to the Pole but returned alive, was largely forgotten. This account of their race is a gripping, highly readable history that captures the driving ambitions of the era and the complex, often deeply flawed men who were charged with carrying them out. THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH is the first of Huntford's masterly trilogy of polar biographies. It is also the only work on the subject in the English language based on the original Norwegian sources, to which Huntford returned to revise and update this edition.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the South Pole was the most coveted prize in the fiercely nationalistic modern age of exploration. In the brilliant dual biography, the award-winning writer Roland Huntford re-examines every detail of the great race to the South Pole between Britain's Robert Scott and Norway's Roald Amundsen. Scott, who dies along with four of his men only eleven miles from his next cache of supplies, became Britain's beloved failure, while Amundsen, who not only beat Scott to the Pole but returned alive, was largely forgotten. This account of their race is a gripping, highly readable history that captures the driving ambitions of the era and the complex, often deeply flawed men who were charged with carrying them out. THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH is the first of Huntford's masterly trilogy of polar biographies. It is also the only work on the subject in the English language based on the original Norwegian sources, to which Huntford returned to revise and update this edition.

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Book details

  • PDF | 624 pages
  • Roland Huntford(Author)
  • Abacus; New Ed edition (December 7, 2000)
  • English
  • 4
  • History

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Review Text

  • By Jim Short on September 2, 2013

    OK, so this LOOKS like a book on polar exploration, and there certainly is a lot to recommend it on that front, but ultimately it's the story of two different management styles. In a past company, we'd have an annual offsite meeting and each year a different one of us was supposed to give a book related to our business to the others. We got the usual stuff like Good To Great or Crossing the Chasm, books written by people who sit in academic offices and try to figure out what makes groups of individuals successful.But you couldn't ask for two more diametrically opposed approaches to the business of making it to the South Pole than Scott and Amundsen. Amundsen prepares relentlessly: prior to the South Pole attempt he's been in the Canadian Arctic studying the way the Inuit are able to survive. He learns how they make their clothing to stay warm, how they make igloos, how they use their dogs. He knows that dogs work best in high output, short duration stretches, and he learns to ski along side the sleds at the pace the dogs want to go. He spends a year on the Belgica locked in the ice through the first Antarctic night experienced by Europeans, and he knows about scurvy and the emotional toll that the dark takes. He lives closely with his men, knows them well, and does everything he can to foster camaraderie within the group. When it doesn't work out, he's willing to cut out those who don't fit from making the journey. Even the way he measures out the area around the South Pole to be certain he actually got there shows how intent he is on leaving nothing to chance.Scott on the other hand has one other piece of high latitude work under his belt from the first British expedition to the Ross Sea area in which he'd made a sprint towards the South Pole with Shackleton and showed no compassion for the latter's sickness, sending him home disgraced afterwards. His general attitude was that as a member of the British naval officer corps, he had what it took inside him and "it" would somehow see him through. He shows up at his camp with four different transport means, none of which he had done extensive training with: barely tested mechanized sledges, skis, dogs, and ponies. He discounts the dogs because they don't work well when used at a pace equal to what a man can achieve hauling a sled by himself. He doesn't make any training program for his men to learn to ski - some of them are motivated to fool around with the skis, but most do nothing. He holds himself aloof from his men and although some of them hold him in high regard, others feel dismissed. As they begin to approach the pole, Scott refuses to recognize the reality that he is too late and should turn back short of his objective to have a chance of survival.And in the end the results are no surprise - Amundsen breezes to the pole and back like he's on a modern day eco-tour, and Scott and the men who came with him all perish.Huntford's book is a gripping story that still has time for details that make the reader understand how vastly different it is to go to the South Pole than the North Pole. You can feel the tension of crossing fractured sections of glacial ice where any step could plunge through the snow and send you hundreds of feet to an icy death in a chasm. There's the frustration of trying to get your sledge to cross the high plateau leading to the pole when it's nearly dead flat but carved with sastrugi that makes it a maze of difficult-to-cross ruts. And the desperation of hoping to find the next cache of supplies and wondering if your last bearings were really accurate. All this comes home vividly in this superb book. I've read a couple dozen books on Arctic and Antarctic exploration, and to me this is the best.

  • By B. Smith on September 24, 2017

    Very excellent look at the personalities of two polar explorers, their journeys, and their fateful competition finally to reach the South Pole. I was fascinated by the differences between these two people, Amundsen and Scott. Amundsen was methodical to an extreme. He learned about every aspect of polar travel, through visits with explorers, volunteering on expeditions, reading, and direct training about skiing, running dogs, nutition, sailing into polar waters, etc. etc. He was conpulsive about understanding everything possible about everything that might have an impact on an expedition. Amundsen also valued the knowledge of indigenous people about traveling in polar regions, food, clothing, etc. He didn't see them as savages with nothing to teach. Scott was haphazard and careless in his approach. He took the attitude that a large and well-funded team could wing it and overcome problems as they occurred. He didn't value the knowledge of indigenous people who had lived in the Arctic for eons. He took ponies to the Antarctic as pack animals. He hated sled dogs. What is there for a pony to eat in the pack ice? Nothing. What can a dog eat? Seals. Penguins. In the worst case even another dog. The author also discusses the more general differences between Norwegians and the English as regards exploration and even behavior toward subordinates.

  • By Don Gosney on September 21, 2017

    When this book first came out close to 30 years ago it was such an inspiration to me that it prompted my two lengthy expedition trips to the Antarctic.I've used this book as a lesson in leadership to young people attending high school and even college (it was required reading in a leadership class that one of my students just took over the summer at Cornell University).The difference in leadership styles demonstrated here between Scott and Amundsen is night and day and it's clear that this is one of the main reasons why Amundsen reached the South Pole 34 days ahead of Scott and why he was able to live out his life basking in the glory of his accomplishments while Scott and his team relied on Scott's wife to try to drum up support for her husband's tragic end succumbing to the cold just 11 miles from a supply depot.Reading the book was great but "reading" it again through the CDs while driving was very enjoyable. There were numerous times when I arrived home and sat in the driveway listening to another chapter before heading into the house.

  • By Tracy Cramer Austin, Texas on June 20, 2013

    Though 564 pages long and filled with facts, Huntford's narrative always moves forward, and carries the reader with it. The reader should know, however, that this book is part biography and part recounting of the expeditions of Amundsen and Scott. This means that it is not until about half way through the book that the reader gets to the South Pole expeditions.My only quibbles are that:1) the maps are not always clear, and there could be more2) the editors need to add the year that an event took place in (Huntford often just gives the month and day)3) Huntford's debunking of Scott the Tragic Hero, though absolutely called for, is so unrelenting that at times it felt like too much. (Partly for this reason I am going to read the more recently published "Race to The End: Amundsen, Scott, and the Attainment of the South Pole" by MacPhee, Ross D. E.)That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this very readable book.Note: Once you've read the book, I recommend "The Last Place on Earth" DVD. It is a seven part British TV mini-series based on Huntford's book, and was released in 1985. It is superbly acted.


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