- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
The Last Viking: The Extraordinary Life of Roald Amundsen Hardcover – 20 Sep 2012
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
'A fascinating look into the life of the Norwegian explorer who approached his perilous goals as gruelling mental and physical challenges that he carried out with military-style precision. . . . Amundsen comes to life once again to ignite the spirit of exploration in all of us.'(San Antonio Express)
Stephen Brown celebrates this pioneering explorere and redresses the balance of an enigmatic man who was a footnote to another story for far too long(Wanderlust)
Overall this is a well-researched volume and a jolly good read(Wall Street Journal)
‘Fascinating biography. As a depiction of an explorer’s life however, it is intelligent and often thrilling. Perhaps it is time for the British to jettison their pique, and learn to admire this complex and deeply modern figure.’(James McConnachie Sunday Times)
'Mr. Bown has produced a solid, entertaining account of Amundsen's adventures, through which he scrolls with pleasing attention to detail. This is a real "Boy's Own" narrative, one that conjures the rasp of hickory ski on thin ice, the patter of a hundred dogs, and the whiff of tobacco after a long day on the trail.'(Sara Wheeler, author of The Magnetic North: Notes From the Arctic Circle)
This work is a lovingly written tribute to one of humankind's greatest thrillseekers(We Love This Book)
'The work is sharp-eyed, thorough and convincing, and constitutes a significant addition to the Arctic canon.'(Globe and Mail)
'Stephen Bown delivers an intensely researched, thoroughly enjoyable life of one history’s best explorers.A superb biography of a fiercely driven explorer who traveled across the last inaccessible areas on earth before technical advances made the journey much easier.'(Kirkus Review)
'An enjoyable and informative biography'(Booklist)
'Captivating...Bown makes a compelling case that Amundsen deserves renewed recognition for his outstanding achievements.'(Publishing Weekly)
The first full biography in many years of the greatest polar explorer of all time: the conqueror of both the South and North poles as well as the Northwest and the Northeast passages. --This text refers to the Digital Download edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
What I found most appealing was that whilst it is clear that Stephen Bown has undertaken prodigious research, this is no dry academic treatise. Instead, Bown tells a story which increasingly peels back the layers, revealing the inner man who was the complex character that Amundsen undoubtedly was.
By any account, the Norwegian Amundsen achieved so much in his life of 55 years. None of his expeditions were state sponsored, though he did receive state grants and sponsorship. Essentially he was a private individual who badgered, persuaded and inspired others to support him. He was a master mariner. He was the first to traverse the North-West passage and the first to reach the South Pole. He traversed the North-East passage. He was the first to fly (almost) to the North Pole (and arguably the first man there) and the first to traverse the Arctic in a dirigible. And he trekked many thousands of miles through desolate frozen territory surviving on the skills which he had acquired by close study of the ways of indigenous Arctic peoples. Essentially he was a modern man, informed by the past, but always open to new ways to explore, as technology developed.
What I particularly liked about this biography, in addition to its style of writing, was that whilst Bown was clearly a great admirer of Amundsen, he managed to remain even-handed. So, for instance, though he felt Amundsen's approach and method was much more likely to succeed in getting to the South Pole than were Scott's, he refrained from denigrating Scott, as others have done. In addition, he does not shrink from identifying some of Amundsen's perceived shortcomings, especially during the latter part of his life. Particularly revealing was his relationship with Nobile, the Italian whom he joined forces with to cross the Arctic in a dirigible. Amundsen's own account of this venture (included in his 'My Life as an Explorer') is vitriolic and one-sided, whereas Bown reveals much more of the two-sided nature of the clash between the 2 protagonists.
Amundsen's life ended as he evidently would have wished, not as an ageing but accomplished has-been, but on yet another mission. (A forlorn attempt to rescue Nobile from another venture). A sad end? Perhaps. But what a man! And Stephen Bown has captured the essence of that man beautifully.
I had high hopes about this biography of the great polar explorer, but I do feel the book lacked depth, especially compared to Roland Huntford's "Shackleton" and Wade Davis' amazing "Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest".
Worth a read all the same, to learn more about the master of the snow.
In 'The Last Viking', the author has successfully curated a wealth of research to produce a narrative that is never anything other than gripping, rationing the details of Amundsen's early years in favour of concentrating on the most interesting part of his life. Above all, he asks why Amundsen was so successful compared to rivals like Scott.
This book is perfect for the casual reader who is interested in polar exploration - the descriptions of Amundsen's missions vivdly recreate the hostile environements he encountered. It is a cliche to say that I couldn't put it down, but it's true. This is a very enjoyable book about an extraordinary man who has, in Great Britain at least, never received the credit he deserved for his extraodinary leadership skills.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
It's,a remarkable achievement and...Read more