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Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen: Their Race to the South Pole

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  2,010 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
This acclaimed dual biography charts both British Robert Scott's and Norwegian Roald Amundsen's race to the South Pole during 1911–12. Bizarrely, Scott died in his quest and became a tragic hero, whereas Amundsen, the victor, was largely forgotten. Reassessing the two explorers and their methods of exploration, the book examines the driving ambitions of the era, recounts t ...more
Audio CD, Abridged, 1 page
Published July 21st 2009 by CSA Word (first published 1979)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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howl of minerva
In the spirit of Manny I think it's important to immediately point out some parallels with Knausgard. Is there anything more heroically pointless and more boring than polar exploration? I don't mean for science but just rushing to the pole to say you've stood there. For Norwegians to get the world's attention, they have to do something huge and monstrous. Something spectacular that others have only dreamed of or dismissed as ludicrous. One can see Knausgard (that face! the intensity! those crags ...more
Kevin Hanks
Feb 13, 2013 Kevin Hanks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an incredible book. I was blown away with how much I liked it. It was incredibly well-researched and well presented historical drama. The author had very obviously done his homework and knew the topic well. It was a long read for me, and took quite a while to get through. It's not a fast-paced thriller novel, so there were parts when I would sit down to read it and fall asleep after only a few pages (though that may just mean I'm usually a busy and tired guy). The first 3/4 of the book was ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 26, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in Antarctica, Leadership, Exploration
This book is many things: the story of the race to the South Pole, a dual biography of the rivals, Englishman Captain Robert F. Scott and Norwegian Roald Amundsen, adventure and exploration of the Antarctic, and above all a tale of leadership--superb and inept.

The book, which the New York Times book review called "one of the great debunking biographies" was greeted with outrage in Britain, where Scott had achieved mythic status. Scott, who Huntford called "muddle-headed" and a "bungler" embodie
...more
Wayne
Jan 08, 2015 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: polar
Reading this book ignited my interest in Antarctica and literally changed my life. I took up mountaineering, winter camping, and cross country skiing because of this book.
On Dec. 24, 2004 I stood at the South Pole after a ski journey of 73 miles (a bit more than the Last Degree of latitude).
Chris
Jan 07, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When people ask me about my all-time favourite book it takes about a second and a half for me to reply The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford. At one time I would then launch with no further prompting and usually to the distress of my listener on a reverent summary of Huntford’s masterful retelling of the classic tale of Scott and Amundsen’s 1911/1912 race to the South Pole. And in the 20 years since discovering this literary gift I still give the book as my all-time favourite but, fortunate ...more
Zach
Apr 11, 2012 Zach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off - don't read this book if you really, really like Captain Robert Scott. You probably shouldn't even read it if you even have ever had a slight admiration for him.

Huntford, the author, rips Scott a new one approximately 4,000 times throughout the almost 550 page book. I don't think I need spoilers in this review, as everyone already knows that Amundson the Norwegian won and Scott the Brit lost, so I'll just say it here - I was shocked to hear that technically speaking, poor Scott never
...more
Tim
Mar 17, 2012 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roland Huntford's take on the race to the South Pole is fascinating, often riveting. But his relentless bashing of Robert Falcon Scott gets a bit tiresome. I'm far from an expert; it seems much of the criticism of Scott is deserved if one looks strictly at what was the most efficient and safest way to the pole. Roald Amundsen is so prepared and efficient that it almost takes the fun out of his first-to-the-pole feat. Scott, who of course died on his way back after losing the race to the pole, in ...more
Jesse
Apr 10, 2008 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I learned: Don't attempt to be the first person to reach the South Pole if you don't really know anything about polar exploration. Also, stories about explorers in Antarctica are less depressing than stories of explorers elsewhere, because nobody lives in Antarctica, so there's no colonialism or genocide involved.

Foolery aside, this is a fascinating book.
Myka
Jun 25, 2008 Myka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Huntford wrote the definitive book on the famous Race to the South Pole between Englishman Robert F. Scott and Norwegian Roald Amundsen. Not to give it away, but-- Amundsen won!

Huntford crafted more than an historical account of the two expeditions. The Last Place on Earth intertwines the biographies of two very different men and examines their competing world views using the race as a lens. To research the book, he combed through all manner of records from military reports and bank statements t
...more
Eric_W
May 27, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always been struck by the fact that the British revere Scott, a miserable failure, in my estimation. He was smug, didn't do his homework, and wasted resources on a doomed effort. Amundsen, on the other hand, studied the Eskimos to learn how to survive in harsh arctic conditions, learned how to use dogs, including eating them as they went along, and he breezed to the South Pole and back almost as easily as a walk in the park. Scott insisted on taking mules, which required that he haul hay al ...more
lavinia
Sep 06, 2015 lavinia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, growth
(Short note: Forget about Jules Verne's, Charles Dickens's, Mark Twain's or whatever other adventure stories you might have read growing up. This is the ultimate adventure book and it's stunning because IT ALL HAPPENED!!)

As I was browsing through a random book at Fram Museum in Oslo a few months ago, my eyes rested on a small passage of Amundsen's letter that he left at the South Pole: he was wishing all the best to the British explorer Scott, who was expected to reach the Pole later, and tellin
...more
Herb Hastings
Aug 22, 2016 Herb Hastings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rodrigo
Jul 08, 2014 Rodrigo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. It is thrilling and at the same time very interesting from the historical point of view. The only thing that may be considered a weakness is the bias that the book carries so strongly. Scott is depicted as such a feeble character in so many words that it is sometimes hard to imagine that so many people believed in his competence for so long. But it is a good, interesting and entertaining book, very well writen and highly recommended.
Kavanand
The Last Place on Earth is an exhaustive, well-researched account of Scott and Amundsen's race to the South Pole, but I can't rate it any higher because of the author's huge bias against Scott. I get it--Scott isn't my favorite either, but contempt and loathing ooze off every page, which makes it a little hard to trust the author's conclusions.
James Watson
Jan 12, 2017 James Watson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reads like a Channel 5 documentary. Having just read Cherry-Garrard's obviously biased and plucky account I thought I should compare this with what is commonly regarded as the first popular challenge to the myth of Scott.

Huntford ignores the rash decisions made by Amundsen while emphasising those made by Scott, discounts the scientific contributions made by the Terra Nova expedition, and offers wild conjectures on the personalities of a lot of the characters in this story.

A character assassinati
...more
Tim Empringham
Nov 22, 2016 Tim Empringham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
While this is a bit of a long read I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to read a true life lesson about what leadership really looks like. Phenomenal account of what led up to and ultimately won the race to the South Pole. Fantastic lessons on leadership from both sides of the story.
Pere Bou Sabrià
Apassionant. Em costarà expressar quant m'ha flipat aquest llibre.
L'autor, a través d'un estudi a fondo (joder el tio ho coneix tot de tothom a través de diaris personals, premsa, i tal) a través de com 900 pàgines et fa un retrat de la psicologia de l'Scott i de l'Amundsen que al final sembla que els coneguis de tota la vida. I te n'adones de la basura que és l'Scott i quant molon és l'Amundsen (tot i que és molon en el que fa: l'exploració dels Pols. En la vida "normal" és bastant un fracàs h
...more
Rod
Sep 28, 2016 Rod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, outdoors
An outstanding account of the race for the South Pole between the Norweigan Raoul Amundsen and Briton Robert Scott. Previously published as "Scott and Amundsen" it contains 550 pages of text, in addition to maps and illustrations, bibliography and an index. The work was the basis for an outstanding BBC mini-series of the same name.

Huntford has a real talent for explaining the complexities of polar exploration in necessary detail without becoming tiresome. For example, the implications of choices
...more
Valerio Ferrandino
Extremely interesting, but it smells of apology in many points. No wonder it caused uproar in the British public, Huntford hammered Scott without mercy and, in an extremely indelicate attempt to highlight Amundsen's achievement, mistreated also Shackleton
Lawrence
Dec 11, 2015 Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was like a child when I read this book. That is, I could not put it down. I read it first thing when I got up in the morning. And last thing before I went to sleep at night. That alone was a joy.

How come? Because this is about Antarctica. Because it is a gripping narration full of aspiration, hope, fear, and endurance. Because Mr. Huntford is an excellent writer and a clear one. Because Mr. H. has studied the original sources and critically examined the later books and writings of the particip
...more
Jurij Fedorov
Dec 12, 2015 Jurij Fedorov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book. Very, very hard to put down. I was reading it way into the night many days in a row. I even had a day where I decided to read to page 300 to make some progress but instead nearly read to page 400. I read it at night and when I woke up. Once you start it it might seem long but before long time will fly and you will hate Scott and admire clever adventures. This was a weird experience for me as 2 of the last 3 books (very popular science books) I have read have been horrible and req ...more
Maria
Oct 24, 2013 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is was not an easy read with over 560 pages. But it is incredible writing! I admire the author Roland Huntford for his countless hours of research into the lives of the two men (Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Admundsen) who were separately in a quest to first arrive at the South Pole. He went to the original sources. I first heard about this book from reading a business book called Great By Choice by Jim Collins. Jim Collins said The Last Place on Earth is a great leadership book. So I read ...more
Malcolmcameron
Oct 07, 2013 Malcolmcameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting readable book and great to compare the two approaches but it is scathing of Scott to the point of nastiness. There have been several biographies of Scott and none are this severe. Ranulph Fiennes's effort Captain Scott is effectively a rebuttal of Huntford and is dedicated "to the maligned dead". Scott was lionised in death during a period that had very different values than today. Inevitably the reality of Scott was more mundane than the hyperbole of a nation looking for hero ...more
Lavinia Petrache
Nov 24, 2015 Lavinia Petrache rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, growth
(Short note: Forget about Jules Verne's, Charles Dickens's, Mark Twain's or whatever other adventure stories you might have read growing up. This is the ultimate adventure book and it's stunning because IT ALL HAPPENED!!)

As I was browsing through a random book at Fram Museum in Oslo a few months ago, my eyes rested on a small passage of Amundsen's letter that he left at the South Pole: he was wishing all the best to the British explorer Scott, who was expected to reach the Pole later, and tellin
...more
Ken R
Jun 28, 2014 Ken R rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Huntford does a masterful job of researching and finding diaries and correspondence from numerous sources. In "The Last Place on Earth", Huntford profiles two fascinating polar explorers, Norway's Roald Amundsen and England's Robert Scott.

Huntford provides a complete biography on both men. Huntford looks at the life, education, careers, and relationships of Amundsen and Scott. Huntford contrasts Amundsen's careful planning and adoption of Eskimo techniques to Scott's reckless and ultimately fata
...more
Matt
Oct 13, 2015 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book. Generally, very well written. There's no question that Huntford is among the preeminent scholars of polar exploration. That's all a given. On the other hand, I did feel that at times Huntford let his agenda get ahead of the evidence. Sometimes his point of view clouds his judgement. Generally speaking, he makes a very strong case that Scott was horribly ill-prepared while Amundsen ran his expedition like a true professional. But there are times where it's a bit much. ...more
Andrew
Aug 04, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010, history
This book provides a very in depth analysis of the journey to the pole made by both Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott.

The book highlights the errors in judgement and poor leadership displayed by Scott and contrasts this with the excellent standards maintained by Amundsen.

The book could be accused of displaying heavy bias in favour of Amundsen but it is self evident that Scott made little or no effort to thoroughly research what he was going into, ignored advice given by other more experienced pola
...more
Penny
Sep 19, 2007 Penny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this story of Antarctic exploration in the middle of summer, and I felt freezing while reading it. The book tells the story of Amundsen and Scott's race for the South Pole in 1911/12. Huntford contrasts the preparation and attitude of the two men and then gives a detailed account of each expedition. Amundsen went with dogs and skis: he reached the South Pole first and returned victorious. Scott and his team, meanwhile, died on their way back from the Pole. Scott's diary was later publishe ...more
Mänsomläser
Sep 21, 2015 Mänsomläser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biografier
Boken handlar om kapplöpningen till Sydpolen mellan norrmannen Roald Amundsen och britten Robert F. Scott. Amundsen nådde polen den 14 december 1911, en månad före Scott.

Amundsens grupp återvände välbehållna och hade t.o.m. gått upp i vikt, Scott och hans fyra män drabbades av matbrist, förfrysningsskador, kallbrand, bristsjukdomar och svalt och frös ihjäl på vägen tillbaka.

Även om Huntford kanske framställer Scott som lite väl inkomptent ibland, men om du fick välja, skulle du 1) följa med på e
...more
Vikram
Aug 02, 2011 Vikram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last place on Earth, of course, refers to the South Pole. This book chronicles the "race" between Scott and Amundsen to be the first man to reach the South Pole while at the same time providing insight into the two main characters. We learn that Amundsen was methodical and "cold" in the way he planned his expedition while Scott was a bit....cavalier, shall we say.We also learn that dogs made the difference, Amundsen choosing to use sled dogs to haul cargo while Scott did not. The book also e ...more
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“Where imaginary mole hills turn into hallucinatory mountains” 2 likes
“The English too, were turning their eyes to the South. In 1769, there was to be a transit of the planet Venus across the disc of the sun, a rare event which astronomers wanted to observe. The newly discovered island of Tahiti was judged the perfect site. The Royal Society in London asked the Royal Navy to organize the expedition. The Navy obliged. This was to have profound and unlooked-for consequences. It led to the virtual monopolization by naval officers of British Polar exploration until the first decade of this century. The voyage inspired by the transit of Venus was commanded by a man of quiet genius, James Cook, one of the greatest of discoverers.” 1 likes
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