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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With Scott in the Antarctic - Edward Wilson
An elegantly written book by Isobel Williams that can be read on many levels. This portrait reveals a noble man whose faith gave him strength of purpose in the most extreme conditions: an inspiration to Scott and their fellow explorers. He took his responsibilities as a doctor seriously; his research was rigorous and the paintings and drawings, executed in dire...
Published on 20 April 2009 by Christine Scott

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MISSED OPPORTUNITY
Scott's exporation of Antarctica and its tragic ending never fails to move me. They were all heroes but Edward Wilson (E.W.)shines out as exceptional; with 'Birdie' Bowers coming a close second. Such is my interest that I have read many books on Scott's expeditions, in particular those that focus on E.W. in an effort to get to know this exceptional man better. On...
Published on 3 Jan. 2010


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With Scott in the Antarctic - Edward Wilson, 20 April 2009
By 
Christine Scott (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson: Explorer, Naturalist, Artist (Hardcover)
An elegantly written book by Isobel Williams that can be read on many levels. This portrait reveals a noble man whose faith gave him strength of purpose in the most extreme conditions: an inspiration to Scott and their fellow explorers. He took his responsibilities as a doctor seriously; his research was rigorous and the paintings and drawings, executed in dire conditions are exquisite. He kept a thorough and balanced diary even in the bleak times. What an exceptional man.

The diligent research by a fellow doctor provides great insight into contemporary medical knowledge, (such as lack of adequate nutrition and the cause of scurvy) exploration and the current aspirations and concerns of society. Learning about the paucity of information and equipment makes the expeditions more remarkable.

This is a story of heroic adventure. The pace of the narrative reflects the unfolding drama of exploration in the Antarctic: a compulsive read, informative and enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard book to write, 27 Mar. 2014
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In his introduction to 'With Scott in the Antarctic, Dr Mike Stroud, Ranulph Fiennes collaborator on his Transantarctic crossing, concludes ...'she has caught the man in context, conveying the time in which he lived and the environment in which he worked'. That, for me, sums up exactly this 2008 biography of Edward Wilson, the man who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott on both his Antarctic expeditions, and who famously died with him in 1912 on the second.

But Isobel Williams must have faced at least two major difficulties in writing the book. Firstly, Wilson's wife Oriana destroyed her correspondence with her husband before she died in 1945. So only secondary sources on that aspect of Wilson's personal life were and are available to any modern biographer. Secondly, the story of Scott's expeditions has been told many times before. How would it be possible to tell the story in a fresh way, with added value?

William's difficulties are very apparent in her book. She relies very heavily for personal material, on George Seaver, who wrote Wilson's original biography in the 1940s, and had access to the correspondence. I have read Seaver, and I am not sure that Williams has been able to add much more than he was able to write 75 years ago. Though to be fair to Williams, she has conducted painstaking research and has gone to many other sources. In addition, though she emphasises Wilson's role in Scott's two expeditions, I am not sure anything very much is added to what many others have said in their exhaustive analysis of Scott's expeditions.

However, what certainly comes across in the biography is her empathy and admiration for the person of Wilson. He was clearly a man of supreme intelligence, a talented artist and naturalist, a qualified doctor, modest and self-effacing, a cornerstone for all who met him, devoted to his wife and she to him, and above all with an enduring faith in God who was at the centre of all he did. He evidently had very few vices, though Roland Huntford, true to form, managed to find a few, (see Scott and Amundsen 1979). Isobel Williams quietly refutes these in the course of her text.

I thought the two strengths of the book were firstly, the early part, where she tells of Wilson's childhood and upbringing. And secondly, I found very enlightening her perspectives on what modern medicine has to say about the medical issues (vitamin deficiency etc.) which Wilson and his compatriots faced. Williams is herself a doctor, and it is possible that she could have expanded her insights on these very relevant matters to some effect.

Overall however, I much enjoyed the book despite what I perceive as its limitations. Wilson would have been a man very worth knowing, and Williams has succeeded in conveying his essential character.

Those who also enjoyed the book might also like to read 'Cheltenham in Antarctica' by his great nephew David Wilson, and D B Elder, which offers some lovely insights as well as many of Wilson's paintings and sketches.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Achievement, 28 Jan. 2009
This review is from: With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson: Explorer, Naturalist, Artist (Hardcover)
Wilson's journeys to the Antarctic and the extraordinary artistic and scientific work he did there are remarkable achievements and have long begged a biographer able to capture the essence of the man behind them. Isobel William's portrait is itself a remarkable achievement and brings out the colours in Wilson's character, helping us to understand why Scott found no other companion more valuable, and how Wilson's relentless stoicism and good humour in the face of apalling suffering helped others to keep going. Williams reveals how Wilson's faith in God was at the core of his being, and gives us glimpses into the almost mystical form this took as conditions worsened. Wilson was exposed to conditions that are almost mind-boggling in their severity. Isobel Williams does not forget that she is dealing with high drama, and brings the story of these gruelling expeditions vividly to life.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MISSED OPPORTUNITY, 3 Jan. 2010
A Kid's Review
Scott's exporation of Antarctica and its tragic ending never fails to move me. They were all heroes but Edward Wilson (E.W.)shines out as exceptional; with 'Birdie' Bowers coming a close second. Such is my interest that I have read many books on Scott's expeditions, in particular those that focus on E.W. in an effort to get to know this exceptional man better. On receiving Isobel Williams book I read the 'Introduction' by Dr. Michael Stroud with excitement. He writes, "...but before I read this book, Wilson remained an enigma....He seemed a strange puzzle...I could not put these pieces together but Isobel Williams has let me do so." With Dr Stroud's pedigree I set off reading with interest expecting new knowledge and insight into E.W. I am sorry to say that in this context the book was a let down. If you have read Seavers work(s) on E.W. I believe it to be far more informative and interesting. At times I thought Isabel Williams was just writing another book on Scott's Antarctic exploration with the hook being E.W. I accept that on a couple of occasions new medical reasoning has been appied to unlock some of the myteries e.g. What was Edgar Evan's cause of death ?, but as regards E.W., well, to my mind, he deserved much much better. The book for me is sadly a missed opportunity on such a great and inspirational human being.
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5.0 out of 5 stars With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson: Explorer, Naturalist, Artist, 24 Feb. 2010
By 
J. C. Angel "Jackie Angel" (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson: Explorer, Naturalist, Artist (Hardcover)
Isobel Williams gives a fascinating, detailed description of the life of this strong character whose reliability and even temper was a huge strength to his companions. She describes in graphic detail the struggle and gritty determination which drove him and his four fellow explorers in their quest to conquer the South Pole.
Edward Wilson trained as a physician at Cambridge and St George's Hospital Medical School, London. He was also a naturalist and accomplished artist. He was devoted to his wife and was sustained by his deep religious faith.
The Antarctic expedition was fraught with so many hardships and difficulties that it is hard to understand where they found the will to continue. Even in the most adverse conditions he managed to keep an accurate diary which he illustrated with detailed drawings.
What is captured so well in this book is the shear doggedness of their determination, the moments of hope, the depths of despair and the total exhaustion. I could almost feel the freezing cold, hunger, extreme pain and disappointment of the final tragic expedition.
I enjoyed this informative book enormously.
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5.0 out of 5 stars With Scott in the Antarctic, 27 Jan. 2010
This is a very well researched and detailed account of Edward Wilson's considerable contribution to Scott's Antarctic expeditions. The book fully describes Wilson's character,his devotion to his wife, the love and appreciation of his family, his medical expertise, his artistic talents and his very practical skills as a naturalist.

In addition it chronicles very descriptively the conditions endured in undertaking such expeditions in the early 20th century. Wilson's faith and acceptance of God's will throughout his life is shown to be of great comfort and strength to him during the final tragic weeks.

A very good read which illustrates very clearly the hardships, comradeship and total team effort in their quest to reach the South Pole - Isobel Williams brings the character of Edward Wilson vividly to life and the reader is caught up in the hope, expectation, disappointment and final tragedy of these five heroic men.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly interesting, 23 Nov. 2011
An incredibly interesting version of Scott's Antartic exploration - a refreshing and fresh take on a known adventurer with the added twist of looking to Edward Wilson for further insight. A must read. Thoroughly covered detail and very well written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Edwards Wilson-Explorer, Naturalist, Artist, 30 Jun. 2011
Of the many books written about Scott and his south polar expeditions, this one provides a unique, critical assessment of a man who was on both the Discovery Expedition (1901-04) and the Terra Nova expedition (1910-13) - Edward Wilson. Here is a full account of Wilson, the man, tracing his life from childhood to his tragic death with Scott and his three companions on their return from the South Pole. Clearly, Edward Wilson was much more than an explorer; he was a man perhaps in advance of his time and Isobel Williams' treatment of his life story suggests this. This is a highly readable book for anyone interested in putting Wilson into context with the time and environment in which he lived. I recommend it very highly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stirring stuff, 4 Jan. 2010
By 
R. L. Thomas - See all my reviews
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This review is from: With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson: Explorer, Naturalist, Artist (Hardcover)
What an excellent book this is. Isobel Williams has taken on board more facts that the 'Terra Nova' and managed to weave them into a gripping narrative that would rival any novel. Her exhaustive research has produced a book that really puts Wilson is his rightful place as an extraordinary human being who was clearly the essential people person upon whom any group is so heavily reliant. The descriptions of life at home, at sea or on the ice are wonderfully emotive and real. I could smell the seal carcasses, hear the call of distant emperor penguins and almost got frost bite reading the final chapter. While there's still snow on the ground you must read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars unmissable, 23 Jan. 2009
By 
H. Hart - See all my reviews
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This review is from: With Scott in the Antarctic: Edward Wilson: Explorer, Naturalist, Artist (Hardcover)
This cleverly crafted and well -researched book offers not only an absorbing biography of Edward Wilson but also new insights into the Antarctic expeditions. Isobel Williams' meticulous attention to detail gives a unique picture of a great man; by the end of the book I felt I really knew Wilson. The author's medical background is especially welcome as she is able to illuminate the array of medical problems encountered by the team which had such an important bearing on the outcome of the expeditions. Coupled with a vivid account of Antarctic conditions the book makes a thought provoking and entertaining read. I would recommend it.
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