The Race to the Antarctic, 1912

Scott of the Antarctic, by Sue BlackhallMany people will have watched the recent BBC series ‘Frozen Planet’ and marvelled at the scenes of the Antarctic, and the skill and dedication of the camera crews who filmed the series.

One hundred years ago, in 1912, there was no television, but people would have been gripped by the Antarctic as reports came in of the two rival expeditions to reach the South Pole, which sadly had tragic consequences.

During his second venture to the Antarctic, Captain Robert Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole in January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott and his comrades all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.

Scott of the Antarctic, by David CraneIf you too have been gripped by the story, take a look at this list of books exploring the events from a range of angles:

Scott of the Antarctic, by David Crane
This biography of Captain Scott, the pivotal figure in pre-First World War Antarctic exploration re-examines the courage and tragedy of Scott’s expedition and reasserts his position in the pantheon of British heroes.

Shackleton's dream, by Stepehen HaddelseyShackleton’s dream: Fuchs, Hillary and the crossing of Antarctica, by Stephen Haddelsey
This title presents a full account of the last ‘Heroic Age’ expedition to Antarctica. Based upon previously unpublished material, including interviews with the survivors, and contemporary diaries and letters, the book explores the often antagonistic relationship of two giants of 20th-century exploration.

An Empire of ice, by Edward J LarsonAn Empire of ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the heroic age of Antarctic science, by Edward J Larson
This title offers a different perspective on the Antarctic expeditions of the early 20th century by looking at the British efforts for what they actually were – massive scientific enterprises in which reaching the South Pole was but a spectacular sideshow.

The Mammoth Book of Antarctic Journeys, by Jon LewisThe Mammoth book of Antarctic journeys: 35 eye-witness accounts of adventure in the Antarctic, by Jon E Lewis
The very best writing on the Antarctic, from James Cook’s 18th-century assertion that ‘no man will ever venture further than I have done’ to Lynne Cox’s description of her epic, icy swim in the 21st century – 32 first-hand accounts of men and women challenging one of the Earth’s last true wildernesses.

Dead Men, by Richard PierceDead men, by Richard Pierce
A novel of exploration, obsession, life, death and the power of love, which centres on Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition of 1912.

Death on the ice, by Rob Ryan
The story of one of the last great epic journeys of exploration made before World War I – Robert Falcon Scott’s fateful journey to the South Pole.

A first rate tragedy, by Diana PrestonA first rate tragedy, by Diana Preston
The great tragedy that befell the Scott team could have been averted if they could have trudged just 11 more miles. The Norwegian Trygge Gran found their frozen bodies close to the food depot. Diana Preston’s story recounts the dramatic events.

Racing with Death, by Beau RiffenburghRacing with death: Douglas Mawson, Antarctic explorer, by Beau Riffenburgh 
In ‘Racing with Death’, Beau Riffenburgh rediscovers the almost forgotten story of Mawson – with Shackleton and Scott, one of the three ‘greats’ of Antarctic exploration. It is an unforgettable story of raw courage and escape from the icy jaws of death.

The Last Expedition, by Captain Robert ScottThe last expedition, by Robert Falcon Scott (with an introduction by Ranulph Fiennes)
Captain Scott’s gripping account of his expedition to the South Pole. This book details the incidents, the drama, the courage, the hopes and the bitter disappointment of the ultimately tragic attempt to beat Amundsen to the South Pole.

In Shackleton's Footsteps, by Henry WorsleyIn Shackleton’s footsteps: a return to the heart of the Antarctic, by Henry Worsley
In this book, Ernest Shackleton’s descendants take on the expedition that defeated him in the most extreme Antarctic challenge known to man.

Children’s book:

No Return, by Peter GouldthorpeNo return, by Peter Gouldthorpe
In the age of discovery, Antarctica remained an unknown quantity amongst the world’s explorers. Robert Falcon Scott was amongst the pioneers who penetrated the ice and cruel weather. This is the story of his journey from England, culminating in the ill-fated final march to his goal, only to be beaten by the Norwegians.



One response to “The Race to the Antarctic, 1912

  1. Pingback: Onwards to 2013 | Books & the City

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