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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 23 April 2016
This is an admirable, scholarly work, which seeks to bring together the many accounts of the expeditions led by R.F.Scott and others, to the Antarctic Continent, in the early 20th Century. From the diaries kept at the time and from many subjective accounts given by other knowledgeable persons, including the author, who is himself an experienced Polar Explorer, the reader is invited to appreciate for themself how decisions were made and what consequences led from them. The personalities involved are portrayed as humans rather than heroes or imbeciles, so that we are better-placed to understand them and are able to admire their good qualities, honestly.
This book aims to bring closure to a subject which still has the power to inform what it may means to be British.
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on 7 June 2017
A great book. Very detailed particularly in relation to aspects of Polar survival. Especially good when describing the experience of manhauling across an icy, forbidding continent. I was very moved by the images of life inside a very cramped, basic tent, for months at a time and the courage and fortitude of the men who did it.. I am glad Ranulph Fiennes wrote this book and that I read it. Sir Ran very efficiently counters the negative images of Captain Scott which have been developed by unscrupulous writers in recent decades. I would like to think that Captain Scott and his comrades can now rest in peace.
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on 1 April 2014
Ranulph Fiennes has experience of the conditions that Scott and his team faced. He is a real explorer himself and can remove himself from the comfortable armchair thinking that is used by many biographers to judge the actions of those whom they could never hope to emulate. Sometimes courage, hope and determination and not rational thought are the drivers needed for success.
Now I have finished the book, the impression left with me of Scott, is of a man driven by an unfaltering and human moral core and dedication to science for which we should still be grateful.
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on 3 August 2017
Brilliant read, written by someone who knows what they're talking about, as the author has actually been and done it so to speak, his insight to the story is excellent, I'm already looking forward to reading it again!
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on 19 February 2014
If you want a balanced opinion about Scott read this. Written by a man who has been there, and knows what it is like at the limits of human endurance. Don't bother reading Huntford's book, Fiennes exposes him for what he is, a charlatan.
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on 18 June 2017
Really liked this book. Very well written and researched. The author's own considerable experience of polar exploration enables him to provide significant insights into why Scott made the decisions that ultimately led to his death and those of his team.
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on 31 January 2014
A most enjoyable and enlightening read. This book brings the whole Scott legacy into true perspective by someone who has been there and experienced the harrowing conditions of Polar exploration and the various effects the conditions can have on decision making and judgement.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is prepared to look at Captain Scott's exploration exploits and approach to what must have been a monumental expedition at a time bereft of government subsidies and modern technology and give due credit to a very great leader of men.
A book that, I think, elevates Captain Scott back up to the pedestal of national status that he justly deserves.
A highly recommended purchase.
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on 24 May 2013
First class in every respect. Such a good account of what really happened. I found it fascinating reading and would recommend it to anyone interested in those tragic events.
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on 15 August 2010
I have read many books on the subject of Scot and Amundsen, and this seems to be the most authoritative and in-depth study of the actual sequence of events which led to the deaths of 5 brave men in Antarctica.

This is not the bumbling upper-class twit venturing across one of the most inhospitable and hostile regions on earth with nothing more than a sense of his own superiority to see him through - as certain other authors would like you to believe. This is a dedicated and highly intelligent man who'd gained a great deal of experience from his previous expedition and ran a very well organized expedition alongside many other men, who were also very experienced in Antarctic exploration from both Scott's previous sojourn there and Shackleton's successful exploration there, using the same methods as Scott, and which failed to reach the South pole by less than 100 miles and only turned back through lack of food.

If you look for flaws in anyone or any thing you will find them. It's just a matter of spin. Each reader must evaluate any evidence put forward by the author, question their motives, and look for flaws in their reasoning; a very difficult thing for any layman to do. I suppose this is why so many myths about this subject still exist, as pretty much every other author are precisely that themselves. This cannot be said of Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He is able to give his unique insight, as a fellow manhauling, Antartic veteran, into the problems faced by Scott and his men.

He also uses his own experience to put those diary entries and letters home, which were negative about Scott, in perspective and within context. He explains how the myths concerning Terra Nova Expedition (1910-1913) and the Discovery expedition (1901-1904) came about, and points out the misinformation that many of Scott's debunkers have put forward as cast iron historical fact - some through lack of experience of Antarctica and some which were purely malicious.

This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read which keeps you turning the pages as you would an exciting thriller. You get a reliable insight into both Captain Scott and the men of the Terra Nova expedition which will have you willing them on every step of the way, and leave you almost grief stricken at the death of the pole team. Both Scott and Amundsen took risks, but navigating huge distances over the largely unexplored Antarctic wastes, with no hope of rescue in those days, was a biggie in itself. The weather was one of the biggest factors in success and failure, and freak weather conditions are what ultimately killed Scott and four of his men.

Unlike Amundsen, Scott had a passion for the science of Antarctica, and this aspect of Scott's expeditions was a triumph. `Its scientific results covered extensive ground in biology, zoology, geology, meteorology and magnetism. There were important geological and zoological discoveries, including those of the snow-free McMurdo Dry Valleys and the Cape Crozier Emperor Penguin colony. In the field of geographical exploration, achievements included the discoveries of King Edward VII Land, and the Polar Plateau via the western mountains route. Initially some of the meteorological and magnetic readings were criticised as amateurish and inaccurate but, on re-inspection, they were actually found to be sound.'

Ranulph Fiennes' `Captain Scott' is a fresh much needed answer to the debunkers - chief of whom is Roland Huntford - whose book (Scott and Amundsen), whilst well written and entertaining, is full of conjecture and inaccuracies and is nothing more than an attempt to undermine Scott's reputation. If you read `Scott and Amundsen' as a novel based on a true story it is an excellent read but, as a true historical appraisal, it is largely worthless. Ranulph Fiennes' `Captain Scott' can, and should, be taken more seriously.
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on 17 February 2012
I settled down to read this book after reading Shackleton's South, almost won over to a way of thinking about Scott before I even started this book. The passion of an explorer comes through in the first section of the book as does an enormous respect for Scott.

At the beginning of the second part of the book where RF examines the evidence supporting the attacks on Scott as a man and an expedition leader, I was worried that I would be far less interested than in the first section which I found gripping and exciting - the mood of the writing changes and I soon "came round" and found it hard to put it down.

This is an excellent "first book" for anyone reading about Antartic expeditions - thanks to Sir Ranulph Fiennes for taking so much trouble to get it right.
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