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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
This month witnesses the 100th anniversary of "Scott's Last Expedition" setting forth from the UK and, between now and the centenary of Scott's death in March 1912, there will no doubt be a plethora of new books seeking to capitalise on the interest in the subject generated by the media. Some early 'runners' have already appeared in recent months and highlighted the...
Published on 18 Jun 2010 by Vinyl obsessive

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nearly as boring as being in that cave all winter.
I found this book to be far too full of far too much irrelevant detail.
Then when they finally get into the part of the book that the title is about, its very very boring with minutae of details.
It could have been summed up in just a couple of chapters.
Published 17 months ago by reader1


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 18 Jun 2010
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This month witnesses the 100th anniversary of "Scott's Last Expedition" setting forth from the UK and, between now and the centenary of Scott's death in March 1912, there will no doubt be a plethora of new books seeking to capitalise on the interest in the subject generated by the media. Some early 'runners' have already appeared in recent months and highlighted the concern that not all will necessarily exhibit the standard of scholarship that many consumers of 'heroic age' literature demand.

There are no such fears here. Hooper has produced a beautifully written and eminently readable account of the adventures of the 'eastern'/'northern' party that should satisfy the most critical (not least me!). Hooper brings the central characters very much to life and, notably, also treats us to illuminating insights into the progress of the 'Terra Nova' as it crisscrossed the Ross Sea and McMurdo Sound depositing and collecting personnel over two Antarctic summers. As a result, Harry Pennell also emerges from these pages as a character of some note for perhaps the first time in modern literature.

There is a careful and balanced approach in cross referencing to other contemporaneous activities in Antarctica and to the concurrent preparations of other expeditions, including those of both Mawson and the Japanese, in addition to selected and commenably brief references to the 'main events' associated with Scott and Amundsen, without labouring on details that are already well known and widely available in other accounts. Likewise, there is appropriate level of reflection upon Borchgrevink's earlier residence at Cape Adare. In this way, Hooper successfully places the experiences of the 'eastern/'northern' party in context and enables the reader to see the bigger picture without losing focus on the core subject.

Commendably, Hooper doesn't appear to be attempting to render superfluous a previous, nominally similar account, i.e. Katherine Lambert's "Hell with a Capital H" (2002), itself based largely on Levick's diaries; instead, Hooper draws on a wider range of primary sources and, in so doing, adds new colour and depth to our understanding of some lesser known individuals and activities. There appears to be a lot of 'new' material here, and fresh insights abound.

There are a couple of minor 'blips' early on that induced mild disquiet in this reader, including placing South Trinidad in the Indian Ocean (page 33) and some apparent confusion over latitude and longitude (page 104), whilst I believe that the caption to the upper plate opposite page 231 has transposed the identities of Abbott and Dickason. It is to be hoped that these errors can be corrected in a well deserved second print run!

Hooper is refreshingly non-judgmental and commendably objective throughout, and refrains from imposing present day standards onto characters and events of 100 years ago, a lesson that other authors often fail to heed. She succeeds in simply 'telling it like it was', and allows the reader to form their own opinions and draw their own conclusions about the individuals concerned and the events they experienced. As a result, I feel I now know the 'eastern party' very much better than hitherto, and they have begun to 'fill out' as characters to stand alongside more familiar participants in "Scott's Last Expedition".
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric - an excellent read, 25 July 2011
By 
Buzzy Box (Isle of Skye United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Katherine Lambert's 'Hell with a Capital H' introduced me to the account of the Northern (Eastern) Party and the months they endured in the ice cave on Inexpressible Island. It saddens me that this tale has been largely forgotten, overshadowed by those who went with Scott to the Pole, and I would recommend this book to anyone who is keen to read an account of hardship, sheer guts and heroism.

Meredith Hooper's book, in my option, is a more 'warts and all' tale than Lambert's and paints the very real)picture of six men - two RN officers, a scientist and three sailors - who were thrown together in the harshest way, didn't always see eye to eye but when the chips were down, worked together to survive in the most difficult of conditions and lived to tell the tale. In saying this, I don't want to take anything away from Lambert's book which I have read at least twice and was initially responsible for firing my interest in Campbell's party.

One reason why I might have enjoyed this account more is that I have recently been to Cape Adare, Cape Evans and Inexpressible Island and on the latter, stood on the spot where the ice cave was dug. I can say that the smell at Cape Adare as described by the Northern Party is still as rank 100 years later and that Inexpressible itself is perhaps the bleakest and most God forsaken spot on this planet. I was lucky enough to travel with Raymond Priestley's grandson who gave a talk about his grandfather - a privilege indeed!

I'm sure we were all impressed by the 'Chilean miners' but this tale of endurance ranks way above what they had to go through. Well done to Meredith Hooper for keeping it alive and for producing a very readable account.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars balanced view, 8 Mar 2012
By 
M. Julian (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Longest Winter (Kindle Edition)
After reading Scott's journal I wanted to find out about the rest of his expedition. I hoped this book would fill in a good deal. After looking at so many reviews for so many other titles surrounding Scott's last expedition I could see that the running of the expedition was a contentious issue. What I liked about this was it was very easy to read, clearly very thoroughly researched, and above all a balanced view. Although the author says she wants to champion the thoughts and deeds of the lesser known members, she does not have an axe to grind. Excellent. By the by in the early 1980's I lived in Cambridge and occasionally did a bit of drinking with some members of the Antarctic survey and Scott Polar institutes. Lets say they are a breed apart, different from you and I - mostly in a nice way, but certainly in a somewhat strange way. I guess you have to be different to want to spend 6 months in darkness and the perishing cold, and isolated, in danger.....
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Longest Winter, 23 July 2010
This is an amazing book, so well written. Life was so tough back then and because you know the details came from the men themselves you can feel the truth about the terrible situations they were in at times. Meredith Hooper also manages to show the true nature of the men, the humour, the resilience and also the pettiness that comes from living in such close quarters and dealing with such difficult circumstances. This book isn't only for those interested in tales of the Antarctic, but those who are interested in human nature, history, environment and who just want a good read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written story of Antarctic survival, 11 Aug 2012
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This is another one of the stories that normally features only as a sideline in accounts of Scott's last expedition. It was always intended that this would be a separate party, exploring the east side of the Ross Ice Shelf, but they had to withdraw from there when they found Amundsen occupying the area. So from being the Eastern Party, they became what was subsequently referred to as the Northern Party. They spent a first winter at Cape Adare in a well-established hut, then after some exploration in that area, they were taken by the Terra Nova further to the south to explore on the Antarctic Plateau. When the Terra Nova was unable to recover them, they spent a heroic winter of survival in a snow-cave, living largely off seal and penguin and using blubber for fuel. The account of this winter is really the core of this book.

The group was a microcosm of the main expedition - three naval officers or scientists and three other ranks. All the characters are well-described but particularlt Lt. Victor Campbell, the group's leader and a man who clearly had considerable ambitions to carve out a name for himself in Antarctic exploration.

The writer manages to capture the personalities and doesn't hold back on describing some of their less favourable aspects. It comes across as a fair account though with an overall sympathetic tone. The details of the Northern Party are interespersed throughout with snippets from both the main party and of the Terra Nova, helping to place their activities into an overall context with which many readers will already be familiar. The only thing that I felt was missing from the book was a brief account of what happened to the members of the party afterwards - something which features in many other accounts of the Heroic Age of Antarctica.

If you've already read the main stories of the Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen expeditions then you should definitely also read this one and gain an additional perspective on this amazing period.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 26 Mar 2012
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This review is from: The Longest Winter (Kindle Edition)
I have read alot about Scott & Shackleton and this is a brilliant recount of the time and men. Hooper is a gifted story-teller with a great story to tell. I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to know more of the 'Terra Nova' expedition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracking read, 9 Aug 2012
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Those who have a fascination with all things relating to the 'Heroic Age' of Antarctic exploration will surely enjoy this superb piece of writing by Meredith Hooper. In 'The Longest Winter' she relates the story of the 'eastern' party (later the 'northern party') led by Victor Campbell, which in so many other (though not all) accounts of Scott's Last Expedition, very much takes second place.

The research, upon which the book is based, is meticulous. Strong themes are the competing demands of exploration and science, and the compromises the eastern party were forced to make, in order to strengthen Scott's attempt at the Pole. The characters of the 6 men (3 officers and 3 'men') who formed the party, are described in their many complexities and are brought vividly to life. The extreme rigours which the party had to endure are descibed in minute detail, yet in a matter of fact way which serves only to enhance ones appreciation of the torments they all endured. One thing I had always wondered about when reading Scott's, Cherry-Garrard's or Shackleton's accounts, was how on earth ordinary bodily functions were managed in conditions of blizzard and sub-zero temperatures. Ms Hooper certainly enlightens us.

But what I found most appealing in Ms Hooper's account was the technique she used to thread together the stories of Campbell's exploits, Scott's attempt on the Pole, the voyages of the support ship Terra Nova under Pennell, events back at Cape Evans, and the simultaneous journey of Amundsen to the Pole. So that on any one date, one is made aware, not only of where everyone was, but also who knew (or did not know) what of the others. In days which preceded wireless communication, ignorance of other's circumstances clearly influenced key decisions.

I found 'The Longest Winter' to be a 'must read', and I hope others derive as much enjoyment and enlightenment from it as I have.
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4.0 out of 5 stars survival, 11 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Longest Winter (Kindle Edition)
Excellent book about the survival of six men against the severe elements in the Antarctic. I like reading about the interaction of the men with each other and the psychological tools they had to employ in order to survive. In this day and age of expressing everything there is much to be said for British reserve and a "stiff upper lip". By containment and the art of "cheerfulness" these men were to survive mentally - no mean feat when considering the constant diarrhoea and starvation they endured for months in a soot covered igloo of 12 x 8ft. This book highlights the mental as well as physical struggle of survival both as individuals and as a team. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Antarctic exploration or survival against extreme elements.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 11 Jan 2014
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Hooper does a fine job here. Learn how to live in the Arctic . They were from a different age. Well researched and well written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A tale that defies belief, 30 April 2013
By 
Balraj Gill (Slough, Berkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I finished reading this book about 4 months ago, but strangely enough, I keep thinking about the people in this book and the experiences they went through, at some point almost everyday. Most frequently, when I go to bed, I usually spare a thought for what it must have been like for the six men huddled through the hell of an Antarctic winter in an ice cave. The blubber stove, the dysentery, the hunger and the sheer frustration makes you wonder why at least one of them did not do an "Oates" by stepping outside and simply not coming back.

Hooper's book is a great example of early 20th century British behaviour under duress; which indeed many of the books about Antarctic exploration are also fine examples of. But there is something here which strikes a chord even more than other tales; perhaps it's the simplicity of the situation - see out the winter in a cave and then when the seasons change, trek back to rescue.

The Longest Winter joins The Lost Men: The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party as another great example of recounting little-known side expeditions to much better known Antarctic quests.
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The Longest Winter by Meredith Hooper
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