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The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition

Biography / MemoirOut of Print

By: Susan Solomon

383 pages, B/w photos, illus

Yale University Press

Hardback | Dec 2001 | #121669 | ISBN: 0300089678
Out of Print Details

About this book

This riveting book tells the tragic story of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his British team who in November 1911 began a trek across the snows of Antarctica, striving to be the first to reach the South Pole. After marching and skiing more than nine hundred miles, the men reached the Pole in January 1912, only to suffer the terrible realisation that a group of five Norwegians had been there almost a month earlier. On their return journey, Scott and his four companions perished, and their legacy, as courageous heroes or tragic incompetents, has been debated ever since. Susan Solomon brings a scientific perspective to understanding the men of the expedition, their staggering struggle, and the reasons for their deaths. Drawing on extensive meteorological data and on her own personal knowledge of the Antarctic, she depicts in detail the sights, sounds, legends, and ferocious weather of this singular place. And she reaches the startling conclusion that Scott's polar party was struck down by exceptionally frigid weather - a rare misfortune that thwarted the men's meticulous predictions of what to expect. Solomon describes the many adventures and challenges faced by Scott and his men on their journey, and she also discusses each one's life, contributions, and death. Her poignant and beautifully written book restores them to the place of honour they deserve.

Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale. R. Scott, written after travelling for weeks of daily temperatures below minus 35 degrees F. "This is a very well balanced and meticulously researched book. It shows beyond doubt how false and shallow have been the many malicious and blinkered books and films in their bland condemnation of Captain Scott as a bumbler and inept leader. Quite the opposite was actually true and The Coldest March goes a long way to putting polar history right and thereby to killing off the vicious myth about one of Britain's great explorers." Sir Ranulph Fiennes "A fresh and captivating look at one of the most tragic sagas in the annals of exploration. Solomon takes the reader on a breathtaking ride through Antarctica's beauty, history, and uniquely forbidding weather. Carefully researched, innovative, and elegantly written, The Coldest March will fascinate and inform anyone intrigued by polar adventure or the interplay of science and society." Paul Ehrlich, author of Human Natures and Wild Solutions "An inspiring chronicle of Antarctic scientific exploration at its most heroic. It is a tale of vision, courage, endurance, patriotism, loyalty, and all the strengths and frailties of the human spirit. Above all, it is good science, good history, and gripping reading." J.W. Zillman, president of the World Meteorological Organization "A great adventure story, made even more compelling by a modern scientific detective." Bruce Babbit, former Secretary of the Interior "Scott's South Pole expedition ended in tragedy. This book is a valuable and sympathetic contribution to the great story, written by the leader of an expedition that ended in triumph." Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch and Time, Love, Memory

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Susan Solomon is senior scientist at the Aeronomy Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado. An acknowledged world leader in ozone depletion research, she was honoured with the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1999 for 'key insights in explaining the cause of the Antarctic ozone hole'. Among her many other distinctions is an Antarctic glacier named after her.

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