Last Great Quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic Sacrifice Paperback – 1 Jun 2004
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Excellent book (The Independent on Sunday)
Review from previous edition a mesmerising and superbly researched book (Beryl Bainbridge, The Spectator)
Antarctic scholars and the general reader can enjoy a well-produced and beautifully illustrated account... (Klaus Dodds THES)
A meticulous examination...weaving record, anecdote and example with great skill, with some remarkable conclusions (Washington Times)
A well-researched account (Sunday Times)
Max Jones...is much more sensitive than previous writers to the full range of meanings which were invested in the Scott story. (Historical Journal)
a fascinating and wide-ranging study (Sunday Times)
About the Author
Max Jones is a Lecturer in Modern British History, University of Manchester.
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Top Customer Reviews
On the one hand, the book is very effective as a straightforward account of Captain Scott's quest to reach the South Pole, the reasons why it took place and why it failed. On the other hand, the book also works extremely well as an account of how Scott's heroic reputation was created and sustained. It is an account, therefore, not merely of the expedition itself, but also an account that takes in wider themes about Edwardian society and culture, and how these forces came to exert an influence on the Scott expedition and its reputation.
Jones is equally adept handling both elements. A range of primary evidence has been used, and it is all marshalled in an effective way to illuminate both the tale of the expedition and the wider themes of society and culture. In doing this, Jones thankfully avoids falling into the trap of writing in a dull and over-complicated style - a trap which sometimes sadly befalls academics. It is comprehensive and detailed without ever being dry, and Jones' writing is fluid.
A rich seam within the book is the 50 plus photographs and illustrations, many of which have been little seen before. Though I found the thread of the book fascinating, I felt its writing style, and certainly its use of language, more like an academic thesis than some of the other excellent books on Scott, and, for me, this detracted from its overall impact. More judicious editing of some of the detail might have made it more palatable. And like many other books based on original research, the convention adopted for notes was irritating, requiring the reader to turn to the back of the book every time he or she wished to know the source of a particular quotation (which for me was frequently).
But these are minor issues. Overall, I found this relatively original slant on Scott very refreshing and very well worth the read.
Was Scott such a hero? To what extent was he incompetent? Or was he swamped by Edwardian traditions? The facts are presented clearly, allowing you make up your own mind.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The writing style deteriorates at times into mere lists - how many photographs were taken of what subject, how many pounds went to which recipient, which plaques were erected where......
There are other flaws, for example, a statement that the "whiteness" of Scott's expedition must have fostered racial prejudice in Edwardian society - this, from the Programme Director for the MA in Modern British History at Manchester University, who should know that events, like works of art should be viewed in the context of their times - purportedly the (failed) purpose of this book - and that current "political correctness" is irrelevant. To back up this ludicrous statement, the author needed to present evidence that black applicants to the Antarctic Expedition were rejected in favor of white (not, as far as I know, the case).
A far better choice for those interested in Scott's last expedition would be Susan Solomon's "the Coldest March', a fascinating and well-written account.
The cover photograph of "The Last Great Quest" is great. Keep the jacket, discard the book.
Well written and balanced work complete with notes and extensive bibliography that puts the death of Scott in its historic perspective. For me it resolved many of the controversies surrounding Scott's competence and the alleged manipulation of his hero status. Particularly interesting for me was the way Victorian ideas of 'manliness' and 'moral character' were seen as class based resulting in the scapegoating of the only non-officer Edgar Evans. This is better than Stephanie Barczewski's very similar 'Antarctic Destinies' which lacked this book's detachment from controversy.
Interesting comparisons with other tragic figures like Franklin, Livingstone and Mallory, making the point that Scott through his deathbed writing uniquely helped create his own myth of the tragic hero martyr.
Recommended, but if you're new to the subject best start somewhere else first.