Customer Reviews


5 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine biography of complex and reluctant hero, 6 Nov. 2002
By 
John A. Atkins "jaatkins" (Lancaster) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: I Am Just Going Outside: The Tragedy of Captain Oates (Hardcover)
Captain Oates was one of the more complex and unconventional members of Captain Scott's 1911-1912 expedition to the South Pole, and Smith's new biography is the best attempt yet to provide an insight into this maverick cavalry officer's motives and actions. Oates has become synonymous with noble and heroic sacrifice in popular mythology, but thankfully Smith (like Roland Huntford before him in Scott & Amundsen) paints a rather different, less pleasant picture of Oates' decline and death after reaching the South Pole.
This is not a book about glory; whilst Oates' strength of character and physical toughness are simply astounding by modern day standards (as were all polar explorers), one is left wondering why so much suffering (by man and beast alike) had to be expended on such a gruelling 2000 mile trek, in weather conditions barely imaginable.
Oates still emerges as a courageous and heroic young man in Smith's hands, both in his army career and as Scott's horse handler, but Oates was no fool. He saw much of the folly in Scott's inflexible and domineering approach, and suffered much in silence. The central tragedy is forcefully emphasised here: Oates' life was squandered by Scott's incompetance, and his suicide was the last gesture of man who had already endured the unendurable (not only frostbite and starvation, but scurvy - with truly ghastly symptomns, details that most Polar biographers have been happier overlooking).
Michael Smith (author of another notable Antarctic biography of Crean) tries to distance himself a little from Huntford's hatchet job on Scott, but subscribes to many of the same conclusions. He questions some of Huntford's conjectures but makes a few of his own - how can he know that Oates' 10-year old leg wound reopening was as painful as the original bullet impact which shattered the left thigh?

The photographs here are excellent and in many cases unfamiliar -Scott's expedition has been extensively documented and Ponting's images oft-reproduced, but even the better-known shots here are reprinted with a finer quality that is usual, giving an overall freshness to the handsome edition.
The revelatory postscript here is that Oates fathered an illigitimate child in 1900. Smith wisely plays down the sensationalism of these alledged facts but in so doing fails to consider any moral culpability on Oates' part. Oates's "girlfriend" was 11, still a child - he was 20. Even without the resulting pregnancy the legal process would have landed him in prison and completely forestalled his army career.
This is really a minor gripe about what is an impressive, well-researched and absorbing story - even well-read South Polar fiends like myself will find much that is new. Who next for Michael Smith? Meares? Bowers? What about Lashly? There's still many tales to be told.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Smith on form again, 22 Nov. 2003
This review is from: I Am Just Going Outside: The Tragedy of Captain Oates (Hardcover)
Michael Smith delivers a tremendous account of the life of Laurence Oates and continues with his fascination for Antartic exploration by following up his account of the life of Tom Crean with this superb book. This book adds to the already large library of books on the recent revival of interest in the last real expeditions of discovery.
Laurence Oates is always painted as a hero who gave up his own life to save those of Scott and his remaining companions. He is also heroic in his love and treatment of the horses and ponies that he was responsible for. Smith delicately handles Oates' heroism and makes no effort to re-create or alter the myth of Oates.
The hardship of Antartic exploration is vividly conveyed, as is also the fatally flawed decisions of Scott which ultimately doomed him and his men. Oates, the soldier, obeyed Scott's commands - even though led him to his inevitable demise.
Oates sought excitement all his life, and saw the Antartic as an opportunity for heroism and adventure. I feel that he is the type of character that was destined to die tragically, and would surely have persished in the upcoming Great War had he survived the ice.
Smiths's style produces a well written account. If you have not already read his book about Tom Crean, do so soon - you will not be disappointed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Read, 15 April 2013
By 
B. Cassells (N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: I Am Just Going Outside: The Tragedy of Captain Oates (Hardcover)
For anyone who is interested in Polar Expeditions, this is a must read. Extremely well written and very readable book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Mar. 2015
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: I Am Just Going Outside: The Tragedy of Captain Oates (Hardcover)
Michael Smith never fails to bring those he is writing about to life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 16 April 2010
By 
J. Hardie "Art mad" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: I Am Just Going Outside: The Tragedy of Captain Oates (Hardcover)
Captain Oats is a fascinating gentleman of the old school. This outlines his amazing life before he joined the Antarctic expedition lead by Captain Scott...a disastrous leader if ever there was one. Oates is a much more admirable human if flawed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

I Am Just Going Outside: The Tragedy of Captain Oates
I Am Just Going Outside: The Tragedy of Captain Oates by Michael Smith (Hardcover - 1 Jan. 2002)
Used & New from: £3.48
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews