As a fan of "Heroic Age" exploration, especially in Antarctica, I've read several books on Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton, and chose this book, from several on the same subject, as Mawson certainly seemed to be an under-rated member of this famous group. I can say that Mawson certainly lives up to such a high reputation, however flawed he too may have been, but this book is probably not the best one to read on him and his adventures in the far south. The author is rated as a first-class historian, but that may be the problem, as he can't seem to distinguish in many cases between useless, repeticious, pointless, not to say boring, details that add little or nothing to the story, and the real human drama which gives the whole thing sense. He gives almost as many pages to telling us rather shallow and uninteresting information about arrangements in the expedition's hut and what and how things were packed on the sledges (e.g., which pieces of the Primus were in which boxes and where they were put on the sledge...) as he does to Mawson's most famous feat, his solo return to the base camp following his first sledge journey, fighting against titanic, indeed seemingly unsurmountable odds. This story does indeed make Mawson an heroic figure, much more than either Scott or Shackleton, especially as Mawson went on to do a lot of scientific work later on, as opposed to the tragic disasters of both Scott and Shackleton, which are really the only reasons we remember them today. I would frankly have expected a more feeling treatment, rather than what comes across more as just a chronological telling of the events. Of course, a so-called historian who starts off by saying that Scott, Shackleton and Mawson were the greatest exploreres of the Edwardian period, somehow completely forgetting Nansen and Amundsen, obviously has a rather skewered view of things. (He does get around to complimenting the two Norwegians, plus Sverdrup, around page 107 or so, but in a short subordinate clause, not even a full sentence!) By comparison, the books by Roland Huntford and Alfred Lansing, if at times somewhat sensational, certainly give a better idea of what it must have been like for the people involved, which is the true task of the historian. One interesting sub-product of this book, having read others on similar experiences, is to make one question the whole point of this type of exploration. The Victorian ideal of progess, of conquering the world, aided and abetted by strong nationalistic tendencies, apparently pushed many of these these men (Scott and Shackleton simply for personal glory, Amundsen and Nansen perhaps for something more) to go to extremes, the British especially ill-prepared and high with hubris that made them think they could overcome all obstacles. Mawson certainly shared some of these faults, along with others of his own, but he was undoubtedly also very dedicated. Differently from Scott, he planned carefully and learned from his mistakes, and better than Shackleton he equipped his team as adequately as possible for what they were to face. However, I think it is the best monument to his memory that he refused Scott's insistence that he go with him to the South Pole, saying that he was interested in science, geology to be precise, and not just a glory-seeking stunt. Amundsend and Nansen were certainly better explorers in the technical sense, really in a class of their own (however little credit they usually get), but Mawson deserves the palm as the one with the best motivation. Read about him in some other book, though, not this one. He deserves a better job.