Scott of the Antarctic: A Life of Courage and Tragedy in the Extreme South by David Crane
This is the definitive biography of Captain Scott - the pivotal figure in pre-First World War Antarctic exploration. Crane's beautifully written and illustrated book re-examines the courage and tragedy of Scott's expedition and reasserts his position in the pantheon of British heroes. 'It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more...For God's sake look after our people.' These were the final words written in Scott's diary on 29 March 1912, as he lay dying in his tent with Birdie Bowers and Edward Wilson. Oates had taken himself into a blizzard a few days before, and the fifth member of the Polar party, Edgar Evans had died some ten days previously, worn out by the cold and physical effort of the journey across Antarctica. Since then Scott has been the subject of many books - many hagiographical, others dismissive and scathing. Yet in all the pages that have been written about him, the personality behind the legend has been forgotten or distorted beyond all recognition. David Crane's magisterial biography, based on years of close and detailed research with the original documents, redresses this completely. By reassessing Scott's life and his substantial scientific achievements, Crane is able to provide a fresh and exciting perspective on both the Discovery expedition of 1901-4 and the Terra Nova expedition of 1910-12. The courage and tragedy of Scott's last journey are only one part of the process, for the scientific enquiry that led up to it transformed the whole nature and ambition of Antarctic exploration. One of the great strengths of this biography is Scott's own voice, which echoes through the pages. Scott's descriptions of the monumental landscape of Antarctica in all its fatal and icy beauty are breathtaking; his honest, heartfelt letters and diaries give the reader an unforgettable account of the challenges he faced both in his personal life and as a superlative leader of men in possibly the harshest environment on the planet. Written with the full support of Scott's surviving relatives, and with access to the voluminous diaries and records of key participants, including admiring scientists, this definitive biography sets out to reconcile the very private struggles of the man with the very public life of extremes that he led.