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Dead Men Paperback – 15 Mar 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715642960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715642962
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 735,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Dead Men describes the peculiar pull of the tragedy of Robert Falcon Scott … Fascinating --Telegraph

An expertly told story that captures the detail and spirit of Antarctic adventure, then and now --Sir Ranulph Fiennes

About the Author

Richard Pierce was born in Doncaster and educated in Germany and St John's College, Cambridge. He now lives in Suffolk with his wife Marianne and four children. Dead Men is his first novel.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, a confession: I'm not interested in history. I know that makes me a Really Bad Person in lots of people's eyes, but I can't help it; I'm only interested in now and the future. Yet I found this book utterly compelling. The quality of the writing drew me in straight away, and I enjoyed the choreography of the dance between past and present. I enjoy travel writing, and the different locations were beautifully drawn. And I loved the characters. There seems such a vogue for unsympathetic characters in literary books at present, which may be great art but I simply don't want to spend time with them. But Adam and Birdie, Nev and Welland, even the more minor characters like Helge, were all such interesting people that I read more and more slowly as I got closer to the end of the book, because I didn't want it to end.

I could perhaps have deducted one point of a star here or there for a sentence that had room for improvement, or for a momentary lack of clarity - for example, I still don't understand what happened to Adam near the end of the book (I won't say more; no spoilers in this review). But I enjoyed the book so much that I can't summon the will to be picky.

Birdie says, at one point, 'If you visualise something - doesn't matter if you're writing or painting - you're much more likely to be able to take your audience with you. If you just make something up that you don't really believe in, then it doesn't mean a thing.' This book is fully and beautifully visualised, and what's more, it has a heart suffused with compassion. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
One hundred years ago, Robert Falcon Scott and four other men left the other members of the Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica and set out to claim the South Pole. When they arrived there on 19 January 1912, they discovered that the Norwegian explorer Roald Admundsen had beaten them to it by a mere matter of days. Neither Scott, Wilson, Bowers, Oates or Evans survived the arduous trek back to their comrades.

A century later in London, a young artist Birdie Bowers, named by her parents in honour of their famous and tragic relative Henry `Birdie' Bowers, is obsessed with finding the tent in which the frozen remains of Scott, Bowers and Wilson were discovered and buried a short time after their deaths. The tent was located just eleven miles from a food depot. Birdie believes that the answer to the mystery of why Scott couldn't reach this safety lies buried in the ice with him. His diary and those of the other men had been rescued but they didn't provide the answers Birdie seeks, just tantalising glimpses of five men descending into their fate.

Adam Caird is the man who has fallen in love with Birdie, a woman he has taken upon himself to rescue and love and so escort to the other side of the world. Neither of them were looking for love and both find it difficult to speak its language but, as they prepare for their expedition to the South Pole, they learn as much about each other as they do about the men they are trying to find. When they finally reach Antarctica and face true isolation and real danger, they realise how impossible it would be to survive without the other.

For life, love, fear and death are the themes of Dead Men.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Pierce clearly knows a lot about the race to the Antarctic early in the twentieth century, not only the practicalities of it, but also how mythic it became in the collective imagination, particularly in the UK.

In this novel, (which is of course also largely a factual account, using information available at the time and later) he charts that fatal journey undertaken by Scott, Wilson, Oates ‘Birdie’ Bowers and Evans, not to mention what was a devastating discovery by the British team, when they reached the Pole, to discover the Norwegian, Amundsen, had got there first. Scott’s party all died on the journey back.

The explorers, over the century , have achieved iconic status; they failed (in being the first to reach the Pole) and the mystery of their deaths (understandable, given the harshness and danger of the venture) has come to stand for a certain kind of brave, against the odds, heroism in pursuit of an ideal not always understandable to others.

Pierce’s book worked well with these aspects

What did not work for me was the modern, fictional story. ‘Birdie’ Bowers is a young artist, quite tortured, quite flaky and terrifyingly vulnerable. She is obsessed by the original Birdie Bowers, whom she was named for, as her dead father was obsessed by him. By chance she meets an older man, Adam, someone with some demons of his own – a history of failed love affairs, some challenges with social communication, who works in some kind of rather nebulous freelance IT field. Adam falls immediately for the flaky Birdie and comes to share her interest and obsession (as part of that falling in love) He is cast, within the book as an impossibly high minded knight in shining armour.
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