Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Tell the Publisher!
Id like to read this book on Kindle

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Scott of the Antarctic: A Life of Courage and Tragedy [Hardcover]

David Crane

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover --  
Paperback --  

Book Description

14 Nov 2006
A richly illuminating biography of Robert Falcon Scott, and the first to transcend the myths that have taken root in the story of his life.

Since Scott’s death in 1912, he has been the subject of innumerable books—some declaring him a hero, others dismissing him as an irresponsible fool. But in all the pages that have been written about him, the man behind the legend has been forgotten or distorted beyond all recognition. Now, with full access to all family papers and to the voluminous diaries and records of key participants in the Antarctic expeditions, and with the inclusion in the book of excerpts from Scott’s own letters and diaries, David Crane gives us a portrait of the explorer that is more nuanced and balanced than any we have had before. In reassessing Scott’s life, Crane is able to provide a fresh perspective on both the Discovery expedition of 1901–04 and the Terra Nova expedition of 1910–13, making clear that although Scott’s dramatic journeys are the most compelling parts of his story, they are only part of a larger narrative that includes remarkable scientific achievement and the challenges of a tumultuous private life.

Scott’s own voice echoes through the pages. His descriptions of the monumental landscape of Antarctica and its fatal and icy beauty are breathtaking. And his honest, heartfelt letters and diaries give the reader an unforgettable account of the challenges he faced both in his personal life and as a superlative leader of men in possibly the world’s harshest environment.

The result is an absolutely convincing portrait of a complicated hero.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 572 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 2005 First US Edition edition (14 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375415270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375415272
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.5 x 4.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,594,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Crane's first book, 'Lord Byron's Jackal' was published to great acclaim in 1998, and his second, 'The Kindness of Sisters' published in 2002, is a groundbreaking work of romantic biography. In 2005 the highly acclaimed 'Scott of the Antarctic' was published, followed by 'Men of War', a collection of 19th Century naval biographies, in 2009.
Crane lives in north-west Scotland.

Sell a Digital Version of This Book in the Kindle Store

If you are a publisher or author and hold the digital rights to a book, you can sell a digital version of it in our Kindle Store. Learn more

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on Amazon.co.uk.
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Admiring View of a Complex Man 19 Feb 2007
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
I particularily like the subtitle to this book, 'a life of courage and tragedy.'

Scott was undoubtedly courageous. He could not have been otherwise. On the other hand, his courage and drive to get to the South Pole was not exactly balanced by experience or perhaps by common sense. There's an old saying that if you wanted to get somewhere like the South Pole, Scott would have been a good leader to follow, but if you wanted to get back, then other expedition leaders like Shackleton would be your first choice. Shackleton's quotation: 'Better a live donkey than a dead lion.' Consistent with this, Scott got to the South Pole, Shackleton didn't. Scott didn't get back.

In this book, the author is clearly a deep admirer of Scott. And indeed he did great things. Coming from a humble beginning he appeared driven to accomplish things, and he did. He was a complicated man, and Mr. Crane's access to the family papers and Scott's letters give a view that is perhaps more balanced than what we have seen before.

If nothing else, Mr. Crane is an excellent writer and the story becomes one of those can't put down books.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captains Courageous 16 July 2007
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
David Crane shows how the death of the explorer Captain Scott galvanized the UK on the edge of World War I, but he qualifies British response to the tragedy by pointing up that, despite the weight of popular opinion, the pre-war Edwardian years were not exactly the Golden Age of empire the way they are nowadays painted. Crane's life of Scott is in every way a re-revisionist biography, kicking against what he feels has been the unfair denigration of Scott's life and deeds over the past thirty years.

Sometimes this approach works, sometimes it doesn't. Through meticulous handling of evidence, he tells the story without a hint of strain, and yet sometimes whole paragraphs stop the action to argue that history has shafted Scott once again. A prototypical Englishman in the days when "God was an Englishman," Scott has suffered from unthinking backlhas, or so says Crane, and indeed he says it about four hundred times so that, frankly, I began to sympathize with Scott's attackers a bit, for no one's that perfect.

Indeed Crane admits as much, citing his rivalry with Shackleton and then finally with Amundsen as proof, but in each case, the other man is deeply at fault and Scott was just trying to muddle through on Naval smarts and years of experience leading men. It was a time for heroics, and something in the air (together with a thriving media culture) made heroes out of the most unlikely souls. England expected every man to do his duty, and alas so did Norway and Amundsen came home with the gold, so to speak, whereas the Englishmen after the same glittering prize were all dead by the time Amundsen returned home. "The Englishmen, the goal accompished," bleated the press, "lay quiet in the snows. Through the months since . . . while wives and friends set forth for meetings and counted time, they lay oblivious. All was over for them long ago."

Beyond the heroics of the era, Crane attributes the legend of Captain Scott to his indispitable skill as a prose writer. There is something macabre about the veneration given to his last journal, found by the relief party, but it's a bizarre twist totally understandable in the context, the words that live on after the hand that wrote them has grown cold and still. Without that last journal, its reinscription of subaltern heroics, its narrative of deprivation and memory and love, how else would Scott be remembered? In this regard Crane has an interesting passage about the way in which Westminster Abbey had its own little competition going on with St. Paul's Cathedral about which site had the most pomp and had the most heroes of empire commemmorated there.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Bio 12 April 2009
By M. Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great "counter" to the Roland Huntford's The Last Place on Earth (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0375754741) which is unbalanced in its criticism of Scott. This bio shows Scott as a product of his time. I still don't feel that it dealt with why "no dogs" effectively, other than pulling sleds was honorable. But otherwise the book shows a very rounded view of who Scott was, why he did what he did and what a great leader he was.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captain Scott in context 16 Sep 2013
By Anura - Published on Amazon.com
Firstly, this book is not for people who have no prior knowledge or understanding of Antarctic exploration. It definitely assumes some prior reading on the places and personalities involved. Similarly, don't come to this book expecting a rip-roaring tale of adventure and daring.

To me, what this book does very well is place Captain Scott and his achievements firmly within the context of his times, his upbringing and training, his personal relationships and the people he worked with.

Immediately after his death, Scott and his companions were hailed as heroes within the quitessential mould of British heroism that was continued through the First World War. Since then, his reputation has diminished - firstly as a result of the decline in nationalistic heroism and secondly as a result of the more active efforts of people like Roland Huntsford to extract and then examine in minute detail every negative comment made about Scott.

What this book does is look at Scott's life and experiences, and show how Scott could have achieved nothing more than he did.

Scott entered the Royal Navy at a young age, which formed his views on leadership, desirable qualities in his team and career and progression. In this pre-war era, the Royal Navy was going through a period of change with elements that looked backwards (pursuit of rank, classical Britishness) and forwards (emerging role of sciences). Scott was simply a product of this service and this period, and it's unreasonable to have expected otherwise.

Scott's courting of and relationship with his wife is also important, in that the surviving letters between the two show a man who was full of self-doubt and relied on his wife as a promoter of his ideas.

Finally, in terms of providing for his mother and sisters, self-promotion was not narcisssim but a constant need to ensure they could live comfortably.

All of these elements combined together to create the man that organised, prepared and led the last fateful expidition. Crane does an excellent job of first laying the ground work of his upbringing and early career, his relationships, his courting of promotions and his approach to planning and leading expeditions. Too much of the modern view of Scott is influenced by what would be expected of a man without this background (eg. a thoroughly modern expeditioner) rather than the actual man he was.

Was he a perfect man? Clearly not, but expecting him to be would be silly. Too much of the dissection of Scott has been based around odd snippets from the writings of others. It would be perfectly sensible for some people to write disparaging remarks in the privacy of their own diaries, but then those same diaries need to be read in total ie. the good comments with the bad. This is something Crane does well - he brings out the full depth of the relationships.

In the end, the only real elements that have ever contributed to Scott's negative reputation is the views of Shackleton and Oates. Crane brings out more of their views than simply picking the best or the worst, and it becomes clear that while both had disagreements with Scott both also admired his achievements and leadership.

Overall, a timely addition to the history of Scott. It's well balanced in terms of Scott's life (noting that his last expedition was not his whole life), easy to read and well researched.
By Tom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having personally visited Antarctica in January 2014, I am able to appreciate the incredible bravery displayed and the massive hardships endured by Captain Scott and his comrades which has all been so vividly depicted in "Scott of the Antarctic". Clearly, much research has been done by David Crane in the production of this most readable and impressionable book.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category