24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
An excellently crafted and definitive work.,
This review is from: captain scott (Hardcover)On the cover of my copy of this book is a head and shoulders photograph of Scott which, almost eerily, reminds me of a similar study of author Ranulph Fiennes from another work. These two men have more in common than just the South Pole.
Over the years, Scott has come in for considerable criticism particularly by those who have no understanding of the subject. This can be likened to a non-driver who believes he is able to describe exactly what it is like to survive a racing car crash at over 180 mph. Personally, I want to hear the driver's account. Scott, however, did not survive his final expedition and that is why so many "non-drivers" believe themselves qualified to comment on his life, his achievements and, of course, his death - and do so from the warmth and safety of whatever centrally-heated base camp they occupy.
Such armchair experts deliberately set out to uncover whatever flaws exists in the makeup of any person who achieves greatness and often invent defects which never existed. They do so in order to reduce that person to whatever common level is occupied by ordinary mortals. Consequently, Scott has been subjected to the wrath of writers whose own understanding of hardship is limited to the inconvenience of running out of petrol on a motorway. It takes, therefore, an explorer and writer of the magnitude of Ranulph Fiennes to produce an accurate biography of Captain Scott if only because he possesses an unparalleled understanding of the subject, of the man, of the hardships and of the drive and ambition - because he too has been there and done that. Add to that, the simple fact that Ranulph Fiennes is also always able to provide an outstanding "read" and this book does supreme justice to the topic.
Ranulph Fiennes has led many expeditions, has conquered both Poles and in 2009 climbed Everest at the age of 65! Whilst this book is about Scott and not the author, they are relevant factors when considering the content. In an outstanding and excellently crafted work, Captain Scott is revealed in a way not seen before - if only because no previous author had the expertise to understand what happened and why. As Scott and his life open up to be revealed page by page, so Fiennes tackles each success, each obstacle, each failure and each point of later criticism as it was reached in the life of the man himself. Expertly drawing on his own relevant experiences just at the right juncture, Fiennes provides the reader with a thorough awareness of precisely what confronted Scott at that particular time. In explaining each occurrence, he offers the reader a thorough comprehension of the situation and the problems faced so that we are finally able to understand. That understanding comes about only because both subject and author are, in many ways, kindred spirits.
That said, this is not a work of hero worship. Certainly not. This is an honest appraisal of a great man who had equally great flaws in is character and even caused other men to die. It is, therefore, an exposé of the truth behind that man and of the legend he has become. Each myth is not just discounted, it is considered almost as though a formal commission had been tasked with establishing the truth. In adopting this approach, Ranulph Fiennes has provided a long-overdue definitive account of the life of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Perhaps, he may now be finally allowed to Rest in Peace.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Dec 2011 11:57:36 GMT
D. Jackson says:
Oh yes, Scott is only criticized by those who know nothing about ice exploration and everybody knows that Amundsen cheated (by doing the job properly). If Fiennes had really used Scotts approach he would have been dead a long time ago. In fact he does things the Amundsen way which is why he is able to do what he does. Mind you that is Amundsen with mordern communications. It is not that Scott went out and died that is to be critcized, it is the lower ranks he took with him.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2011 13:09:29 GMT
D. Jackson says:
As a reply to myself. If the British want a real Antarctic hero lets make it Shackleton
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2011 13:14:56 GMT
Hello D. Jackson
There is no mention of Amundsen in my review and I have never criticised him at any time. I am, therefore, at a loss to understand the point you are trying to make.
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Dec 2011 20:35:32 GMT
But this is a book about Scott?
Posted on 29 Feb 2012 21:12:55 GMT
The Collector says:
Great review. Fiennes' portrait of Scott matches exactly my impressions from reading the accounts by Ponting and Evans and the diaries of Scott himself. Seems unbelievably sad to me that so many people are gullible enough to swallow Huntford's portrayal of Scott. Like Fiennes, I feel the urge to 'right a wrong'. Hopefully, time, this book and the resurgence in interest from the Nat. Hist. Museum's exhibition will eventually restore Scott's needlessly tattered reputation.
In reply to an earlier post on 5 Apr 2012 21:17:23 BDT
"The English have loudly and openly told the world that ski and dogs are unusable in these regions and that fur clothes are rubish. We will see - we will see." (1872-1928).
"I maintain that our arrangements for returning were quite adequate, and that no one in the world would have expected the temperatures and surfaces which we encountered at this time of the year." - Robert Falcon Scott
"Superhuman effort isn't worth a damn unless it achieves results." - Ernest Shackleton.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Apr 2012 07:24:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Apr 2012 12:05:41 BDT
I really do not understand the point you are trying to make.
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