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on 22 January 2007
It's a fabulous book to read, very upbeat, full of life. He describes everything so well it is actually like being on the trip with them. The images of the dogs having a howling contest each day on the trip from Norway must have been anything but fun for the crew, he describes how if you could stop the dog who started it as soon as it started then the rest of the day was "quiet". They started with 97 dogs and they each took turns to start off the howling then the rest joined in, the image conjures up a pretty noisy ship!

He cared a great deal for his dogs (number one priority), the men and everything needed to get them to the pole and more importantly back again. He oversaw clothing, food, shelter, everything was checked to ensure the success of the expedition.

The South Pole is by no means a trip for the faint hearted, but to make the trip with a man with Amundsen's lively personality must have been a joy to the men who went with him. He had the utmost respect and admiration for other polar explorers including Shackleton and Scott. Amundsen succeeded because he put his faith in his dogs who were the engines of his expedition. Scott put his faith in the human body which doomed his attempt from day one. Amundsen must have been a very entertaining dinner party guest. I would recommend this book 100% to anyone who is interested in explorers, Polar or otherwise. It is very entertaining and a visual feast to the imagination.
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on 24 January 2011
'The South Pole' is an account by Roald Amundsen of his expedition to the Antarctic in 1910-12. In fact, it is 4 books (or more) in one, for it includes an introductory history of polar exploration, an account of Amundsen's own overland journey to the Pole, a further account of the parallel part of the the expedition - an exploratory sledge journey - and a narration of the full journey of his ship the 'Fram', which sailed an incredible 54,400 nautical miles taking the main party to and from the Pole and conducting scientific research. In addition there are several detailed appendices.

The book is written in an incredibly easy-flowing and eminently readable style.

Three aspects in particular made a deep impression on me. First was the man himself - Amundsen. Incredibly brave and courageous; incredibly competent, and a much loved leader of his men. In terms of leadership, he was quite different from Captain Scott - his rival. Whereas Scott organised his expeditions on naval disciplinary lines, with officers and ordinary expedition members strictly separate, Amundsen, though as much if not more a leader, regarded his men as his equals - and shared everything.

Secondly, the expedition was professionally driven. Prior to this 2+ year undertaking, Amundsen had not visited the Antarctic before. Yet his preparation was meticulous, foreseeing almost every eventuality. In particular, he knew that his only way to achieve success was by reliance on dog-hauled sledges and his use of over 100 dogs is described beautifully.

Thirdly, the book demonstrates the remarkable levels of skills which men possessed a century ago, before the modern technological innovations which proceeded apace in the 20th century. Sailing skills were exceptional. Long before GPS, with relatively primitive instruments, latitude, longitude and altitude were calculated with unerring accuracy both at sea and on the ice bound land-mass. The ability to survive in an unrelenting climate, for many days and months on end, by careful planning, prodigious knowledge and an aptitude for innovation when circumstances dictated, were second-to-none.

This is a superb book. Highly recommended.
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on 10 March 2013
This book is produced by a print on demand operation which does not even bother to proof read the extremely inaccurate result of scanning the original text. Shoddy piece of work.
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on 6 September 2012
Amundsen's first-hand account of his trip to the South Pole is fascinating in many ways, because it is the in the words of the man who actually planned and did it. I think Roland Huntford's books tell the story better, however, albeit with less detail. Curiously, Scott was a terrible explorer, but a very good writer, so he has got a lot of undeserved credit, while Amundsen much less than he deserved, simply because he didn't know how to make the story more intriguing. Still, a book to read if you are interested in Heroic Age explorers. Amundsend was of the very few in the first rank of explorers and deserves much more credit and recognition than he has received. Read both books, Amundsen's and Huntford's, to get the full story, the real story.
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on 11 January 2014
excellent translation , which loses none of the Norwegian nuances . Very informative, Amundsen wrote well and the book flows along merrily. Get part 2 or suffer an unbearable cliffhanger (even if you know all about his South Pole adventure)
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on 12 June 2011
It's interesting to compare this account with Apsley Cherry-Garrard's story of the Scott expedition. They were both racing for the south pole but Amundsen relied on very careful preparation and an experienced team + a great respect for the conditions whereas Scott was poorly prepared, trusting more in late Victorian macho imperialism famously represented by his man pulled sledges. Everything works right for Amundsen in this excellent account of turn of the century polar exploration.
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on 21 December 2011
This isn't a bad book. It's a lengthy and detailed account of the Norwegian trip to the South Pole. It has a lot of scientific content at the end and it is overall very factual, very matter-of-fact. There are a few moments where I felt part of the story, where I felt like the people were real humans (as they were) but overall, this is a rather inferior Antarctic expedition book in comparison with "South: the Story of Shackleton's 1914-1917 expedition", available for free on Kindle. Perhaps it is due to being British, but I much preferred Shackleton's account and I certainly had a lot more empathy and admiration for the men described therein. The Norwegian account is at times clinically cold (no pun intended), and they never seem to suffer quite as many hardships as the Brits, but they certainly complained a lot more. Considering they were vastly better equipped and more used to the conditions, and that they didn't suffer any great setbacks along this journey, my admiration has to reside much more firmly with Shackleton's two teams. I think they achieved something much more impressive at a much greater cost, and did so with admirable attitudes throughout.

This book is not bad. It just pales in comparison to "South".
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on 12 August 2013
This story has no embellishments. The narrative is factual and doesn't gloss over the treatment of the dogs which were both loved and expendable.
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on 18 January 2013
Fantastic book, makes you wonder how men endured these hardships and never moaned about a thing. I would of loved to have been there.
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on 14 January 2013
This is a good factual account of the Norweigans trip to the South Pole but I found the author's attitude somewhat smug and complacent with everything going according to plan or even better and with no mistakes made, and with the problems with crevasses on the journey somewhat trivialised. This is probably still a Scandinavian trait.
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