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Captain Scott [Hardcover]

Ranulph Fiennes
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Oct 2003

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is uniquely qualified to write a new biography of Captain Scott. This will be the first biography of Scott by someone who has experienced the deprivations, the stress and the sheer physical pain that Scott lived through; he has suffered all but the final tragedy endured by the much maligned Scott. He is determined to put the record straight.

As well as being the definitive biography of Scott, written with the full and exclusive co-operation of the Scott Estate, this book traces the way that Scott's reputation has been attacked and his achievements distorted.

Written with the energy and style that have made Fiennes' other books so popular, SCOTT is one of the major publishing events of 2003.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition edition (13 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340826975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340826973
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.2 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 433,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Ranulph Fiennes was the first man to reach both poles (by surface travel) and the first to cross the Antarctic Continent unsupported. In the 1960s he was removed from the SAS Regiment for misuse of explosives but, joining the army of the Sultan of Oman, received that country's Bravery Medal. He is the only person yet to have been awarded two clasps to the Polar medal for both Antarctic and the Arctic regions. Fiennes has led over 30 expeditions including the first polar circumnavigation of the Earth. In 1993 Fiennes was awarded the OBE because, on the way to breaking records, he has raised over £10 million for charity. In 2009 Sir Ranulph Fiennes became the oldest Briton to climb Everest. He was named Best Sportsman in the 2007 Great Britons Awards.

Product Description


A valuable corrective to the trend of Scott debunking ushered in by Roland Huntford...One by one, and with commendable attention to detail, Fiennes explodes the accumulated myths. The world will remember Scott and, to a lesser extent, Fiennes when the memory of the mean-spirited and misleading Huntford has long since melted away. (Justin Marozzi, Sunday Telegraph)

He is uniquely qualified...because only someone who has "man-hauled" across Antarctica can know what went on. Fiennes's own experiences certainly allow him to write vividly and with empathy of the hell that the men went through. He has valuable insights into the running of the Royal Geographical Society and the mounting of an expedition, and he does indeed right some wrongs. (The Sunday Times)

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has done Captain Scott's memory some service...he has certainly written a more dispassionate and balanced account than Huntford ever set out to do (Simon Courtauld, Spectator)

No-one is better placed than Fiennes to understand what Scott may have experienced or to appreciate the enormity of his achievement. A gripping tale of courage and adventure. (Daily Mail)

Book Description

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'.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you for restoring my faith! 17 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Like one of the other reviewers, I collected Antarctic literature for quite a long time. I stopped, though, because of the controversy which had been stirred by authors seeking to 'smash the plaster saint'. I remained convinced that even if some of the criticism were true, that was insignificant when compared to the huge achievement and almost superhuman performance of many members of Scott's teams, and began to think I was clinging to an outmoded view. I grew up reading boys' fiction which was firmly rooted in the Victorian and Edwardian tradition of the stiff upper lip, getting the job done and taking it on the chin, and Captain Scott and his gallant colleagues were for me heroes in that tradition. I am delighted to have read such an authoritative rebuttal of those who would denigrate Scott. I never cared for the arguments about man-hauling versus dogs - I always tried to see the Terra Nova expedition as a great adventure which was comparable with those of any of the greatest explorers. A colleague borrowed my 1913 copy of Scott's Last Expedition a few years ago and his reaction when he returned it was, "Nobody today can have any idea of that sort of courage or stoicism. These men were gods." Perhaps Sir Ranulph Fiennes is one of the few who does have some idea, and is therefore almost uniquely qualified to judge. I am more than happy to accept his words as the end of the argument. I continue to believe that a stiff upper lip is, in today's world, a much under-rated characteristic!
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellently crafted and definitive work. 21 July 2009
On the cover of my copy of this book is a head and shoulders photograph of Scott which, almost eerily, reminds me of a similar study of author Ranulph Fiennes from another work. These two men have more in common than just the South Pole.

Over the years, Scott has come in for considerable criticism particularly by those who have no understanding of the subject. This can be likened to a non-driver who believes he is able to describe exactly what it is like to survive a racing car crash at over 180 mph. Personally, I want to hear the driver's account. Scott, however, did not survive his final expedition and that is why so many "non-drivers" believe themselves qualified to comment on his life, his achievements and, of course, his death - and do so from the warmth and safety of whatever centrally-heated base camp they occupy.

Such armchair experts deliberately set out to uncover whatever flaws exist in the makeup of any person who achieves greatness and often invent defects which never existed. They do so in order to reduce that person to whatever common level is occupied by themselves. Consequently, Scott has been subjected to the wrath of writers whose own understanding of hardship is limited to the inconvenience of running out of petrol on a motorway. It takes, therefore, an explorer and writer of the magnitude of Ranulph Fiennes to produce an accurate biography of Captain Scott if only because he possesses an unparalleled understanding of the subject, of the man, of the hardships and of the drive and ambition - because he too has been there and done that. Add to that, the simple fact that Ranulph Fiennes is also able to provide an outstanding "read" and this book does supreme justice to the topic.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book needed to be written 4 Mar 2004
By A Customer
I believe that R Fiennes has written a very important book.
I have been collecting Antarctic literature, for the period between 1901 - 1922 since the early eighties. I have all the journals, several biographies, many first editions and even one of Scott's first expedition signed by Peter, whom I also knew and visited in Slimbridge. I was fortunate enough to spend 17 days camped, with a friend and Argentinian colleague, just a stone's throw from Scott's hut when part of the NZ Antarctic Research Team of January 1996. I spent many, and happy, hours just sitting in the hut as I had been given the key for the whole period.
All of my "knowledge", and opinions, of this period has come from the various journals and biographies written. I do not claim any expertise, just a love of the period and of Antarctica itself .
I have never been able to understand why biographers believe that there was rivalry between Scott and Shackleton or why, in order to revere one of the explorers of this time it is necessary to pour scorn on another. Why each explorer of this period cannot be admired for their own individual contributions to Antarctic exploration. For myself, I have always regarded Scott as the amateur and Amundsen as the professional, but without denigration or honour being applied to these words. Much like the Players versus the Gentlemen in sixties cricket parlance, or ProAm golf today.
There can be no doubt that Huntford did a huge disservice to the memory of Scott without really adding anything to the understanding of polar exploration. It was as unnecessary as it was transparently erroneous. I sincerely hope that Fienne's book will be widely read, it deserves to be both for the additional material and insights it has brought to the subject as well as re-dressing the balance of Scott's achievement.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A. J. Sudworth VINE VOICE
This book is a biography of Captain Scott's ill fated attempt to reach the South Pole - but it does not read like a dry biography - more like a thriller. You know the ending but the way the story is written you get a real sense of just how close Scott came to getting home safely.
I would take the opinion of Ranaulph Fiennes on Scott over any of Scott's detractors because of what he has done himself - including a frank admission he would have died on one occaision but for modern communications.
This is a great story, well told , about a leader and his team who achieved so much in Antarctic exploration and died in the end attempting a feat of strength and courage that can rarely, if ever , be matched.
I'm delighted to have read this book and for its copious use of notes taken at the time to restore the reputation of a very brave man
Scotts last words in his note to the public make the book worth reading because they set his actions in context - read the book and see what I mean
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I maybe a while
Published 13 days ago by Amt Nicholson
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice to read an actual history of events rather than ...
An extremely well written book. Nice to read an actual history of events rather than that which passes for history with so many. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Darcy Wilberforce
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw droppingly brilliant!!!!
First Ranulph Fiennes' book I've read and wow couldn't put it down. It a wonderfully written biography of a great man (men) attempting something us armchair explorers can only... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Monty Chris Tow
5.0 out of 5 stars It helps to always put yourself in the times and in the circumstances...
Changed my opinion of the fabled Captain Scott from being a zero to a hero. It helps to always put yourself in the times and in the circumstances when imagining what it must have... Read more
Published 2 months ago by B. Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating depiction of the challenge and the calibre of Scott...
Ranulph Fiennes has experience of the conditions that Scott and his team faced. He is a real explorer himself and can remove himself from the comfortable armchair thinking that is... Read more
Published 7 months ago by diane
5.0 out of 5 stars A breed apart.
If you want a balanced opinion about Scott read this. Written by a man who has been there, and knows what it is like at the limits of human endurance. Read more
Published 8 months ago by E. Carnihan
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and insightful
Fiennes sets the record straight by focusing on the evident truth of the triumph and tragedy, no gloss no drama but a tale told with accuracy and compassin
Published 8 months ago by Neogoonhead
5.0 out of 5 stars Captain Scott By Ranalph Fiennes
A most enjoyable and enlightening read. This book brings the whole Scott legacy into true perspective by someone who has been there and experienced the harrowing conditions of... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ken M
4.0 out of 5 stars Years of personal bias, unpicked and reversed
Love or loath Fiennes, there can be no doubt that this intensely detailed retelling of the great British adventure is a near masterpiece. Read more
Published 9 months ago by The Happy Scribe
5.0 out of 5 stars Ranulph rates it!
After a time when bashing role models was in vogue, it's great to read someone who knows what a role model should be. The question is, which is the best, really, Scott or Fiennes? Read more
Published 10 months ago by Roge
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