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Last Great Quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic Sacrifice Paperback – 1 Jun 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press M.D. (1 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192805703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192805706
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 919,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


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 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

Format: Paperback
For anyone who wishes to know more about Captain Robert Falcon Scott's expedition to the South Atlantic, Max Jones' 'The Last Great Quest' is just about the best book there is.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A plethora of books have been written on the heroic age of exploration and in particular, the exploits of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. But this book has a rather unusual angle. Its major focus is not the stories of Scott's two major expeditions to the Antarctic, (though these are covered), but rather it seeks to describe and account for the extraordinary public response to Scott and his death with four companions on his 'Last Expedition'. Through extensive research of contemporary newspaper articles and editorials, diaries, letters, films, books etc. Max Jones describes an Edwardian England which is beginning to come to terms with the loss of Empire yet which still craves for heroes to inspire a new generation. Hence the public adulation.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good read. Clear and well-balanced. Gives full details of Scott's last expedition and in particular explores its Edwardian context: "the straightjacket of tradition, class prejudice, and the glorification of sacrifice over achievement" where "failure was redeemed by the exhibition of heroism in the face of death".

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.
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By Hk on 13 Jan. 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Requested Christmas present which was received with excitement.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitious and tedious....... 9 Aug. 2009
By A. N. O'Nemus - Published on
Format: Paperback
Sadly, this book is a disappointment. It starts interestingly enough, but becomes increasingly tedious as one reads further. The author continually repeats statements, quotations, and his own phrases - sometimes in the same paragraph! Chapters end with quick summations of what one has just read - entirely unnecessary, unless the author expected his readers to have attention deficit issues.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heroism examined 25 Feb. 2012
By Gregory Hope - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Portions of this book are quite interesting and the author does a commendable job of placing the epic tragedy of Scott's final expedition in the context of the early twentieth century world. Most specifically the British world. This is not the best book for a recounting of the events of the expedition. The author assumes familiarity with those events. The bulk of the book examines the immediate and the lasting impact upon the public at large, the Royal Geographic Society and government institutions.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Questions Answered 23 Mar. 2016
By Brian Phelan - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
First a warning, it's NOT an adventure story, it's readable historiography.

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.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An investiagtion of Scotts south pole expedition 16 Nov. 2003
By Seth J. Frantzman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Scott reached the South Pole....and found a Norwegian flag planted on it. He had arrived just weeks late. The mechanical `beasts' he had brought with him, tread driven sledges, have broken down. Soon Scotts party is starving and unable to walk, and eventually they die, having reached the South Pole but not been able to return to their homeland. This book chronicles the disaster of Scotts expedition, the success and dramatic failures it encountered. The author then explores the hitherto unknown part of Scotts accomplishment: the aftermath. Such interesting aspects are looked at as the memorial designs for Scott and the many memorials in London's Newspapers. Also the author looks at the `imperialism' of Scotts enterprise and the way in which Scott and his `martyrdom' have been remembered. An interesting book, with much to offer.
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