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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars David Crane's Scott of the Antarctic
A thoroughly good read. Picked it up Saturday Morning and barely put it down until I finished it Sunday Evening. The level of detail made it possible to imagine just what the team went through especially the Polar Party. You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the last things that Scott and Wilson wrote at the end of their lives just a few miles from...
Published on 9 Jun 2010 by Ms. Tarnia Matlock

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3.0 out of 5 stars Scott
This book should have been a rip roaring adventure. Instead it is written in a style that makes it stutter along, where the book becomes more important than the story it tells. The use of repetition by Mr. Crane becomes tedious even in the first few pages and the style never changes. I struggled to enjoy a story I was really looking forward to. It improves after the first...
Published 9 months ago by frankie5angels


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars David Crane's Scott of the Antarctic, 9 Jun 2010
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This review is from: Scott of the Antarctic (Paperback)
A thoroughly good read. Picked it up Saturday Morning and barely put it down until I finished it Sunday Evening. The level of detail made it possible to imagine just what the team went through especially the Polar Party. You would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the last things that Scott and Wilson wrote at the end of their lives just a few miles from their next supply depot.Went on to read Cherry-Gerrard's The Worst Journey in the World.A fascinating subject.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 29 Mar 2012
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Mr. D. A. Benson "Cumbrianexile" (Not cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scott of the Antarctic: The Definitive Biography (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written and researched book, which takes a more balanced view of Scott than the less than scholarly Fiennes biography. And Scott still emerges as a very sympathetic character, and much maligned.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Brave and Dedicated Naval Officer., 9 Oct 2013
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Since reading Roland Huntford's book, 'The Last Place on Earth.' I had lost respect for Scott, but reading this very unbiased book I have changed my opinion.
Scott was brought up in a different world to the likes of you and I. He really knew only one way and that was 'The Navy Way' The RN in his day was so utterly different to my days in the RN. The way he lived and served was to him quite normal. He was the Captain and what he said, thought and did was the way it would be. This was 'The English way. The Navy Way.' Where as Roald Amundsen went to live with and learn from the people who lived in those kind of conditions. He was willing to learn and be told, plus he never had the strait-laced attitude of the British Gentleman who could not bear the thought of killing the poor dogs who had worked for them.
"No Sir, we man haul our sledges like true British." Was Scott's attitude and it cost him his life.
He was a very brave and dedicated Naval Officer. He attracted such loyalty that no one felt it right to disagree with him. It is such a pity that he never knew of any other way of life. If he had and had listened and learnt from others of much more experience of survival in those awful cold and dangerous lands. I am sure the outcome would have been so very much different.

John Stevens. Royal Wootton Bassett
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scott - brilliant but flawed, 13 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Scott of the Antarctic: The Definitive Biography (Paperback)
Having read much about Scott and the 'Heroic Age', I came to this biography with some anticipation - and I was not disappointed. David Crane's account is based on meticulous and exhaustive research of primary sources, and must have been an epic labour of love in the making. He seeks not only to describe every aspect and event of Scott's life from a variety of perspectives, but he also investigates the context of Scott's early upbringing, and later his naval training, to shed more light on what made this remarkable man 'tick'.

And so we have an account of a man who achieved so much in his relatively short life - a man who despite his rather short temper - invoked fierce loyalty and admiration, even from those who on occasion had received the wrong end of his tongue.

Although Crane sets out to be objective, his account is anything but colourless and neutral. He emphasises Scott's many achievements, but also recognises the many over complexities of Scott's last journey which eventually led to his demise. Crane acknowledges Scott's perceived shortcomings but in the end reveals himself to be a biographer with an underlying sympathy for his subject - a sympathy based on the way Scott brilliantly produced a literary masterpiece in his account of his journeys. Who cannot but marvel on the sentiments Scott expressed in his diary during the last weeks of his life, as he lay in his tent, cold, hungry and done for, with no prospect of ever seeing again his wife and his young son Peter?

I have a few minor niggles with the book. Some passages, especially those which related to nineteenth century naval life, I thought held the narrative up - judicious editing might have shortened them. And I found the system of referencing sources cumbersome. But overall, the book certainly did justice to the great man Scott was and was a joy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars definitive?, 12 Oct 2013
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clean writing. Like high quality journalism, and avoiding most of the smugness that hindsight seems to convey on weker biographers
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book is better than the subject, 12 Oct 2007
This review is from: Scott of the Antarctic (Paperback)
In passing judgement, one should not confuse the efforts of author Crane with those of explorer Scott. In the case of Crane he has done a marvelous job with copious material that allows one to take good measure of the subject Scott. This allows one to conclude as ever that Scott was a heroic failure, a man driven he believed towards success but whose destiny was inevitable given the constant extreme risks he took, the unforgiving harsh environment and his lack of knowledge and experience in that environment. The virtue of Crane is that, despite his desire to rescue Scott's reputation, the thoroughness of his research cements the conclusion to the contrary.

The dedicated but amateur Scott up against the meticulous professional Amundsen in the race to the pole? The outcome was no surprise. Again, it is to Crane's credit that he directly admits so in the text. That Scott's foolhardiness also killed other men, albeit their participation willing, is sufficient factual evidence to condemn his actions. Scott was, as the back cover of the book states, ''a superlative leader of men'', whose leadership brought them to their death. The numerous narrow escapes (e.g. the over-loaded Terra Nova was lucky to make it through to Antarctica in the first place - maybe Scott should have decided against bringing the champagne or the untested motorized sledges?) documented by Crane made it only a matter of time. Shackleton's record in keeping his team alive stands in harsh contrast.

The book is a pleasure to read. Its well-constructed prose flows easily page after page. Though I have read numerous other accounts and know the facts fairly well, Crane's account absorbed my attention. Curiously, I did not find it very emotional despite the romantic nature of Scott and his writing.

Crane's book is a fascinating rounded picture of a complex man's life. It makes one reflect how we are all mixed products of our society and times, our upbringing, people we meet by chance or by design, our efforts, our individual personality and the randomness of the world. This is a book worth buying and keeping on the shelf.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 11 Nov 2013
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Very we'll written and an interesting read. Some good background information to give an insight into the character of Scott.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Scott, 8 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Scott of the Antarctic: The Definitive Biography (Paperback)
This book should have been a rip roaring adventure. Instead it is written in a style that makes it stutter along, where the book becomes more important than the story it tells. The use of repetition by Mr. Crane becomes tedious even in the first few pages and the style never changes. I struggled to enjoy a story I was really looking forward to. It improves after the first couple of chapters and is very well researched and very well told, so I guess it's just the writing style I didn't like.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last a balanced view of Scott., 10 Feb 2013
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Mrs. Gillian E. Marriott (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scott of the Antarctic: The Definitive Biography (Paperback)
So far so good. I haven't read all of this book yet, but it is starting to grab my attention and I am finding it hard to put down. David Crane doesn't think Scott is the golden man, neither does he think Scott deserves all of the dirt that has been thrown at him since it became fashionable to pull former heros apart. He explains in great detail what shaped the young Scott, made him the man he became. Imagine a sensitive young boy sent to naval school at a time when the British Navy was a place of well placed marionettes. Scott was not well played or a puppet, but he soon learnt if you wanted to get on in the navy in those days, you obeyed orders without question. Something that stuck with him throughout his short life, and explains a lots of the mistakes he made. Basically, he was a devoted son, husband and friend, who needed those under him to do as he had always done, obey orders and remain loyal. Something he couldn't understand when others failed to do this.
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21 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars With Huntford to the Pole!, 13 Feb 2007
By 
Dog trainer (failed) (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scott of the Antarctic (Paperback)
I enjoyed this, and found it easy to read even though it's a bit hefty. It is another revisionist attempt to undermine Scott's critical nemesis - Roland Huntford. It doesn't succeed however, since, as another reviewer points out, most of Huntford's criticism remains entirely justified and unconvincingly challenged. Crane, in fact, when faced with a particularly choice example of Scott's ineptitude, usually dismisses criticism with an authorial shrug of the shoulders as if to say 'How could it have been otherwise?' This is simply disingenuous, for it could well have been otherwise had Scott's expertise and aptitude been as great as his physical courage.

The result is that, just as the ghost of Shackleton and his achievement shadowed Scott all the way to the Pole and prompted much of the action, the ghost of Huntford accompanies Crane on his trail and shapes much of the journey. Thus, for example, we are always being reminded that Scott's rigid naval training was more to blame for the desperate mistakes he made than Scott himself.

Crane gives a great show of even handedness, but is careful to let us know, in what I assume he thinks is a very subtle manner, the true quality (and essential un-Britishness) of the opposition. Shackleton, for instance, went on to great things but we are often reminded that he is chiefly a self publicist on a huge ego trip. Amundsen doesn't kill his worn out dogs, he 'slaughters' them.

Shackleton got lucky with ponies on his furthest south, so Scott had to have ponies. Shackleton had to be bettered, so his methods were almost slavishly copied and adhered to. Yet Scott only had to see the dogs performing well when handled properly for all sorts of doubts to seize him about having brought the ponies (not to mention the ludicrously untested and unequipped motorized sledges).

Scott's legendary temper is acknowledged but then explained away by the stress and strain of leadership. His tantrums were wonderful to behold, but they get little airing here. His rigid adherence to the divide between lower and upper decks is seen, too, as harmless, benign even; the diaries of the men don't always testify to this and Crane has to choose his extracts carefully here. In fact, when Scott and his 'right sort' chums, like Wilson, go tearing round the ship ripping each other's shirts off as part of some after dinner game, it gives you some idea of what men like Crean and Lashly (not to mention today's psychoanalysts) were up against.

It is difficult to read Huntford's book (Scott and Amundsen: the last place on earth) without becoming irked at the relentlessly anti-Scott position he adopts. Nevertheless, his criticism still stands; it remains as potent and justified as ever. Ranulph Fiennes's attempt to dismiss it on the grounds that Huntford has never manhauled a sledge not only negates all historical writing, but also smacks of desperation. Crane's softly, softly, let's-not-dwell-upon-the-mistakes approach is too romantic for my taste. Huntford is still the man to read if you want to know what it was really like. He's a better writer, too.
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Scott of the Antarctic: The Definitive Biography
Scott of the Antarctic: The Definitive Biography by David Crane (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)
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