We owe a debt to Michael Smith for researching the story of Tom Crean, and for telling it so well in this book. There's so little documentary evidence of Crean's life that Smith occasionally dips into conjecture and surmise to keep the narrative on course; very occasionally, too, he alludes to the fashionable myth that Scott was a poor and indecisive leader. Recent biographies have not been kind to Scott, but to put things in perspective I recommend Ranulf Fiennes' biography of him, the first written by someone who's actually put in the miles on the ice. It was a different time - as is evidenced by the fact that the 'officers' and the 'seamen' had separate accommodation in Scott's hut and Navy discipline prevailed; men like Tom Crean fell somewhere between the gentlemen and the ponies in terms of preferment. Just as Scott has been badly served, so I think Shackleton has been given slightly too deferential a run; both were extraordinary men, giants of exploration with heart and will, and demons to drive them. But wherever a great feat of Polar exploration was written into history - Scott on the Plateau, Shackleton on the ice, the open boat journey and the crossing of South Georgia - Tom Crean was there. As we approach the centenary of the events depicted, I hope we can do better by Crean's memory than a pub in County Kerry. Well done to Michael Smith for beginning the process.