Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure
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Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  661 ratings  ·  62 reviews
When Admiral Richard E. Byrd set out on his second Antarctic expedition in 1934, he was already an international hero for having piloted the first flights over the North and South Poles. His plan for this latest adventure was to spend six months alone near the bottom of the world, gathering weather data and indulging his desire “to taste peace and quiet long enough to know...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published August 8th 2003 by Island Press (first published November 30th 1937)
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Jim George
Admiral Richard E. Byrd single handedly manned a weather base in the Antarctic winter night of 1934. His scientific expedition came close to costing him his life, his men at Base Camp made a heroic trip to rescue him. The book is a composite from his own personal diary, and an account of the expedition from Base Camp records. This expedition was a very brave undertaking in weather which at times resembled a winter-hurricane, with temperatures which dipped to an all time low of minus 82 degrees!...more
Daniel
Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure is the story of famed explorer Richard Byrd's famous (or infamous) solitary sojourn at the bottom of the world - ably, if somewhat reluctantly, told by Byrd himself. It is not a tell of adventure so much as survival, as the peaceful and scientific adventure Byrd had anticipated all too quickly became a months-long fight for survival in the most inhospitable of places. Only a small shack with dangerously faulty ventilation stood between Byrd and the elements dur...more
Ruth
This book ranks right up there with "The Worst Journey in the World", and that is saying one heck of a lot. I thought I would hate it. Anyone who is an admiral, I figured would be self-aggrandizing. No. This book is full of deep insight. Maybe born of despair, but that's how it goes sometimes. If you have ever been laid up for a winter alone, you might have some tiny fraction of an idea of what he experienced. As he said, he was reborn there in Antarctica that winter. I am not a fan of descripti...more
Edward
This account of six months that the explorer, Richard Byrd, spent alone in minus 60 degree weather in Antarctica was gripping. Obviously, the man survived to tell his story, but he was lucky. Even though he thought he was well equipped and capable of dealing with every contingency, happenings occurred that demonstrated his frailty and even hubris in thinking, erroneously, that he had thought of everything He was lucky to have survived. Reading this account made me think of Jack London's great sh...more
Megan
Even though I've been obsessed with cold places for as long as I can remember and hav elong wanted to visit Antarctica, this book added fuel to that fire, setting my imagination soaring with visions of white expanses and the dangerous era of exploration. This is a fantastic and exciting read. I like to re-read it on warm days in the summer when it's too hot and imagining being alone at South Pole cools me down, or even in blustery wintry days when it's nice to be reminded that, hey, it could be...more
Jim Talbott
This book is an incredible page turner. Admiral Byrd spends from late March to early August (Antarctic winter) by himself in a hut about 150 miles from the Antarctic coast. He gets relatively carbon monoxide poisoning about 2 months before anyone can get in to help him, and he has to survive, using the stove that poisoned him as well as trying to hide his infirmity from "Little America," the base on the Antarctic coast. Not only is the work of survival gripping, his descriptions of the natural w...more
Betsy the Quilter
This is a beautifully written discription of Admiral Byrd's five month stay by himself in a remote cabin in Antartica to study the weather. He is blunt about the decisions that almost resulted in his death and at the same time, his descriptions of the both the beauty and the harshness of the Antartic winter put you there. Even though you know that he ultimately survives (it is his own work, after all), you are still on tenter hooks (whatever they are) as you read.
someparts army
Byrd's tale of human determination in the Antarctic is timeless. After being nearly slain by the carbon monoxide fumes given by the stove that was meant to keep him alive, Byrd is a step away from death's doorstep. He only manages to stay alive through sheer determination to keep his men safe. Once you open up this inspirational true story, you won't be able to put it down.
Cullen Kester
Dedication is the name of the game here. Byrd survives at a weather station in the Antarctic alone. Others have written more fleshed out reviews so I won't go too crazy with this one. Byrd's writing had me nodding at points in agreement as he describes thoughts I have had while working on projects I thought I could do alone. He sets out with a simple goal, to collect weather data in Antarctica, but an unexpected event causes him major setbacks. Byrd, being a man of his time and dedicated to the...more
Jennifer
Admiral Byrd traveled to the North and South Pole. In this book he shares intimate details of his experience being alone at the South Pole on a scientific mission. He writes eloquently of the beauty and harmony of nature.

His experiences gave him an increased appreciation for life and what it means to live. Some of my favorite quotes include:

"These are the best times, the times when neglected senses expand to an exquisite sensitivity. You stand on the Barrier, and simply look and listen and fee...more
Therese
$1.99

This is an amazing story of survival and the human spirit's will to live. In the winter of 1934 Richard Byrd was going to have 3 men at Advance Base (more than 100 miles away from Little America), but when conditions conspired against been able to lay and enough supplies, he chose to go solo, looking forward to this time he would have to himself. He set up a meteorological station and manned it by himself. Unfortunately the generator that was supposed keep him alive began leaking carbon mon...more
Walk
A book on my reading list for a number of years the fact Ranulph Fiennes is attempting to walk through the polar night made it a perfect time to read this book.

The account is of Admiral Byrd self imposed exile during a polar night. While Byrd makes effort to explain the logic of ending up there on his own it fails to ring entirely true. He surely is underplaying the fact he sought this adventure purely for its own sake. A test of his mettle.

As expedition leader it seems foolhardy and grows more...more
Eugene Miya
I've had it suggested to me that this is not a good book to read while you are depressed.

After the British-Norwegian "race" to the South Pole, what was there for the late plucky Americans to do in the Antarctic? Stay the winter, as far South if possible. That's what Richard Byrd decides to do. He can't make decision whom he should assign or send South, so he takes his own assignment.

Well, this isn't all the way to the South Pole (Byrd at least flew over it and the North Pole (give him take much...more
John
This is the intriguing autobiographical account of Admiral Byrd’s Second Antarctic Expedition, in 1934, where Byrd willingly spent five winter months alone in an ice-encrusted, hastily-constructed shack for the ostensible purpose of operating a meteorological station, but more likely as a highly technical publicity stunt. Byrd, it seems clear, was a tireless self-promotor in the “hero business.” His decision to go it alone promised to make him the only man in the world to have endured this kind...more
L
Byrd's ego seems to have driven this "adventure" of "exploration." That is so troubling, given what he put at risk. He makes observations of how "simply" he could live, how little he needed. How disingenuous! The resources that went into getting him to the Ross Ice Shelf, provisioning him for the Arctic winter, and rescuing him are incredible. "Simple" and "little," my eye! That said, the tale of the hazards/harshness of the unforgiving Antarctic environment are fascinating. There is nothing qui...more
Rob
This was a marvelous story by one of the great explorers of the 20th century. It turns out that Admiral Byrd was also a decent author (or perhaps he had a good ghostwriter). I read recently about how things are at the US bases on Antarctica; it's amazing how routine things seem now, compared to Byrd's era. It seems almost foolhardy to me to have attempted what he accomplished several times, to winter over in Antarctica, relying on machines and equipment that were never designed or tested for the...more
Daniel Judge
What an amazing story by Admiral Byrd. The fact that he spent two months with severe symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is amazing. His daily struggle was heart wrenching and very well written. The cold, the wind, the solitary conditions were far too real. What a great book!

My three favorite quotes:
1. "It's not getting to the pole that counts. It's what you learn of scientific value on the way. Plus the fact that you get there and back without being killed."
2. "It occurred to me then that hal...more
Andrea Peterson
"I know! I'll spend six months alone in a shack in Antarctica during winter. That's a great idea." *three months later* "THIS WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA"

For a book about a guy sitting miserably in a shack for four and a half months, it's quite riveting. I did kind of wish that we could read a bit more about what it was like from the viewpoint of the guys he was in contact with at Little America. In all the radio scenes, he describes his end of the conversation very clearly; but from the one or two endn...more
Mary
Sep 18, 2012 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in new lands, exploration, Arctic & Antarctic, journals/diaries.
Recommended to Mary by: GoodReads
Fascinating page-turner. Informative & entertaining info about one man's experience dealing with an Antarctic Winter. The Antarctic is rather akin to another planet with an unfriendly tho fascinating climate, & Byrd's few months contending with the most hostile Winter season is surprisingly enthralling. Here you find pieces woven together about what you're up against weather wise as well as emotionally in a dark, frigid barren yet beautiful world. It's not a mere scientific approach, nor...more
Kristýna Obrdlíková
Knížka o nočním (několikaměsíčním) pobytu ve vnitrozemí na Antarktidě, tuším roky 1933/34. Ten chlapík byl bezpochyby cvok. Komentované deníkové záznamy z doby, kdy jsou teploty běžně mezi 40 a 60 stupni pod nulou, humor, houževnatost, beznaděj a osamělost. Unbelievable.
Maciej
300 stron o facecie zamkniętym na pół roku w budzie pośrodku pustkowia - i jest ciekawe! Byrd we wciągający sposób opisuje swoje doświadczenia z samotnego pobytu na wysuniętej placówce meteorologicznej "Advanced Base" na Antarktydzie podczas nocy polarnej. Pamiętać przy tym należy, że rzecz miała miejsce w latach 30tych ubiegłego wieku. Możemy więc zapomnieć o GoreTexie, GPS, a nawet (co opisuje Byrd) z radiem bywa kłopot. Już sam opis tego, jak wyglądały ekspedycje naukowe w latach prawie sto l...more
Michael Lawson
Awesome book! If you are interested in Antarctic exploration, you should definitely read this!
Virginia Welch
I didn't think I would like this old book, but that was not the case. His writing is intelligent and beautiful, and I enjoyed every page. Admiral Richard E. Byrd set out on his second Antarctic expedition in 1934 to spend 6 months gathering scientific data. He recounts his solitary confinement in that beautiful polar palace, despite the fact that many things go wrong and that he nearly loses his life to carbon monoxide poisoning. This was a bestseller in the 1930s, and I can see why: he's a stro...more
MountainShelby
I read thus book many years ago and I have never forgotten it.
James
Although less well known than his famous flight over the North Pole, Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s adventures in Antarctica are just as remarkable. This account highlights the solitude, the cold, above all the personal thoughts of a man who desired to seek a quiet place away from the "hullabaloo". This is a fascinating account of man in nature with only his solitary self to sustain him. The journey he takes is both physical and spiritual and fascinating to this reader. His dreams sustained him in th...more
Debbie
I was prompted to read this book by the book Until I Say Goodbye by Susan Wendel.
I had never read Byrd's journal before and I do like to read explorer's journals.
I think Richard Byrd was not prepared for wintering over in the Antarctica. I was amazed that he did not even know how to cook.
I think the journal is written in kind of a humorous vein, even though Byrd is close to experiencing death.
I did wonder what I would do in the same situation.
I found the book Along on the Ice about Australian ex...more
Rachael Booth
Unbelievable first-hand tale of a man alone in the Antarctic, a place where the temperatures went as low as -80 Fahrenheit, putting his life on the line just to take meteorological measurements for the advancement of science. Even though he comes perilously close to death several times and lives in agony from weakness and sickness, he refuses to call for help, fearing that any attempt to save him would put his rescuers at peril just getting to him. The courage, stamina and perseverance of Admira...more
Thewonderfulone
Hooked on Byrd books
Alex
A curious contrast to "Season in Solitary" by Morton Moyes
David Byrd
Written in 1938, Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure is the self-told story of Admiral Richard E Byrd and his expedition to Antarctica. I have a special love for this book, as I am related to Richard Byrd. My great grandfather was his cousin. Now I know where I get my good looks (actually my mom’s dad is where I get my full head of hair). Full review on my blog.
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Introvert Book Club: Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure 2 3 Jul 06, 2014 02:30PM  
  • The Home Of The Blizzard: A True Story Of Antarctic Survival
  • Farthest North
  • In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic
  • Mawson's Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written
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  • Gipsy Moth Circles the World
  • My Life as an Explorer
  • Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica
  • K2, The Savage Mountain: The Classic True Story of Disaster and Survival on the World's Second Highest Mountain
  • The Spirit of St. Louis
  • The Royal Road to Romance: Travelers' Tales Classics
  • Kabloona
  • Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals
  • The Mountains of My Life (Modern Library Exploration)
  • South: The story of Shackleton's last expedition 1914 - 1917
  • Through the Brazilian Wilderness
  • Running the Amazon
  • In Trouble Again: A Journey Between the Orinoco and the Amazon
Disciple: under the Tree of Life (Study Manual) Little America The Missing Diary of Admiral Richard E. Byrd Skyward Discovery: the story of the second Byrd Antarctic Expedition.

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