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A First Rate Tragedy Paperback – 16 Feb 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (16 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849017247
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849017244
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,157,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A first rate book. (Sunday Times)

Absorbing and moving. (New York Times)

Penetrating and brilliantly compelling. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

A first rate book. (TLS)

As dramatic and as empathetic as a novel, as informative as a history book. (Frankfurter Neue Presse)

Book Description

Diana Preston's brilliant account of the tragic adventure of survival in the frozen antartic has been updated and revised to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Scott's death.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Despite the modesty of its new subtitle, this revised edition of Diana Preston's 1999 book offers a solid biography of Captain Scott, touching on all the key events of his life from childhood to untimely death. The author is especially good on his courtship and marriage of Kathleen Bruce, and the dynamics of their partnership; an area treated rather cursorily by some biographers.

The main focus, naturally enough, is on Scott's experiences in Antarctica and, if Preston's style is perhaps a little too cool and impersonal to make her narrative as engrossing as Kelly Tyler-Lewis' searching, heartfelt account of Shackleton's depot-laying party, The Lost Men: The Harrowing Story of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party, nonetheless, she does an admirable job of trawling through an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources to present a thorough, workmanlike chronicle of the trials and achievements of the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions.

Her revisions seem mostly confined to the penultimate chapter, `The Reason Why', where she considers new evidence in her appraisal of the various factors that contributed to the deaths of Scott and his four companions: shortcomings in the laying of the supply chain, Scott's sometimes questionable decision-making, his preference for ponies over dogs and an over-reliance on manhauling, dietary deficiencies, and the exceptionally severe weather conditions that prevailed during much of the return journey. This is where Preston excels, offering a careful and clear-headed assessment that deftly counterbalances Huntford's hatchet job on the one hand and Fiennes' hagiography on the other.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Apart from Scott's journals this is the best of his expedition that I have read. It really exposes the real Scott and what he went through in his attempt to reach the South Pole. It is nice to read positives about him rather than the negatives. Thoroughly recommend.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Diana Preston gives a very clear account of the technicalities of Scott's ventures. The book is also commendably strong in assessing the personalities involved and their cultural backgrounds.

A view is taken of Scott's weaknesses and as well as his strengths. By Amundsen's standards Scott was an amateur in polar exploration who, Diana Preston says, 'nearly succeeded'.

Faint praise perhaps? Given Scott's catalogue of errors, failure was on the cards from the word go. But this is a carefully balanced appraisal: It sees all sides of the various issues. Fully recommended.
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