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South with the Sun: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discovery

2.66  ·  Rating details ·  121 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Roald Amundsen, “the last of the Vikings,” left his mark on the Heroic Era as one of the most successful polar explorers ever.

A powerfully built man more than six feet tall, Amundsen’s career of adventure began at the age of fifteen (he was born in Norway in 1872 to a family of merchant sea captains and rich ship owners); twenty-five years later he was the first man to re
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2011)
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David James
Feb 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is nothing short of a bait and switch. Everything about this book's cover and description indicate it will be an account of Roald Amundsen's polar explorations, and for the first sixty-six pages that's just what it is. Then, suddenly, just as he embarks on what will be the first successful crossing of the Northwest Passage, it becomes a book about the author's cold water swims in the far north, meandering ruminations on various experiences in her life, swim coaching, endless name-dropping o ...more
The historical parts were interesting...the stuff about the author's cold-water swims, not so much. Needed more focus--and Amundsen deserves a book of his own, not this memoir/biography mishmash.
John Nelson
Feb 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
I picked up this book when I saw it listed in the catalog put out by Edward R. Hamilton Booksellers, which specializes in selling remaindered titles at low prices. The life story of Roald Amundsen, who spent years methodically preparing for polar exploration, was beaten in the race to reach the North Pole by Robert Peary, then re-focused his attention on the South Pole and made a successful dash to that location while Englishman Robert Falcon Scott's team perished in a heroic but misguided ventu ...more
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
South with the Sun is an autobiography of the late arctic explorer Roald Amundsen written by Lynne Cox. Even though very few people have heard of this daring explorer, he has accomplished many extraordinary feats for his time, exploring the icy terrain of both polar environments, successfully traversing the Northwest Passage, and capturing the South Pole. Throughout the course of the book, Cox analyzes the many adventures Amundsen embarks on and compares that to her own goal at attaining an open ...more
Tom Darrow
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Like many other reviewers, I found this book rather disappointing. The title suggests that the book will be about Roald Amundsen, and although there are a few chapters about him, the majority of the book is on other topics, like Cox's polar swimming, other Arctic explorers and Air Force pilots who operate in polar areas. The bait and switch was enough to knock a few stars off, but her amateurish writing dropped the score even more. Even when talking about occurrences which contain high amounts o ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cold-books, audio
I think this title is a bit misleading. South with the Sun is really only half about Amundsen and half about Lynne Cox herself. Cox sees Amundsen as something of a role model because, like her, he did a lot of things that had never been done before - travelling through the Northwest passage, getting to the South pole, and seeing polar flight as the new way forward in arctic exploration. Cox made records for swimming the English channel and for swimming a mile in Antarctica (in a swimsuit and cap ...more
Marsella Johnson
Mar 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am an big fan of Lynne Cox, ever since reading "Grayson". It's a personal favorite on my book shelf. I am in awe of her long distance swimming endurance alone, not to mention her courage and skill in swimming in frozen Arctic waters. This book was the fascinating journey of her personal hero Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian explorer who reached the South Pole in 1911. She mixes facts about his preparation and journey's, along with other famous explorers harrowing experiences, to the arctic with her ...more
Don LaFountaine
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in the book as I was expecting a much more detailed biography of Roald Amundsen and not an autobiography of the author Lynne Cox.

This book does have information about the life and explorations of Roald Amundsen, but it is mostly about the travels and cold water swimming adventures of Lynne Cox. I am sure that this would have been interesting had I known that was what I was picking up. However since the book title and cover was very misleading, I was unable to get into the auth
May 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was almost unreadable. I appreciate the person who identifies with a historical figure/even and weaves a memoir with relevant historical information. The author either isn't a good enough writer to describe a convincing link to Roald Amundsen and her passion for swimming in cold water, or she knew no publisher would believe readers would be interested in reading her unremarkable experience with swimming in cold water 3 times, so she came up with some historical that very loosely connec ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is my third book by Cox. I have been a big fan of hers since I first read her in 2004. Please enjoy the video in this link:

Her spirituality and love of humanity is fantastic. I really enjoyed this story of the history of polar
exploration which has been an inspiration for Cox since she was a youth. She goes back and forth between history and her own arctic swims as she follows in the path of Amundsen. She also writes about what's going on in the arctic
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I started this book thinking that is would be a typical biography, but it actually has an interesting twist, by incorporating the authors' own accomplishments as a long distance swimmer. The author follows in the footsteps of Amundsen by traveling to Antarctica and Greenland as well as the Arctic. As the story unfolds we hear about the adventures and polar exploration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The timeframe overlaps with other adventurers that I have read about, including Shackleton. It ...more
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
It's obvious that Cox is not a writer. She is, in fact, a swimmer. The clunky writing isn't really what bothered me about the book. I feel like it just never picked up any speed. When I was 2/3 of the way through, I caught myself wondering when The Big Thing was going to happen, and then I thought, "Oh, I think this is it. Huh." I was shocked when I turned the page near the end and saw the header "Afterword." Having said all that, I think if you are SUPER EXCITED about polar exploration OR swimm ...more
Adam Marsh
Jun 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
I picked up this book to read about Nansen and Amundsen's polar adventures (as the cover would have you believe) and instead of a biography... more than half the book is a recount of a modern day swimmer trying to follow in their footsteps by SWIMMING in places like Greenland, Baffin Island, etc. (Seriously... WTF?) The parts about the real adventurers was pretty good but the mix-match story ruined it. I almost always complete every book I pick up... and keep them forever in the library. Shuttin ...more
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am enjoying this poetically written travel tale. It is about the travails of men who want claim to be the first to the North Pole-leading up to Amundsen's success. Cox does a great job weaving history, rugged environmental descriptions and the passionate curiosity of these male explorers. I have not yet finished this book, but look forward to seeing her own interest in exploration woven into the story.
I finished the book and it was very enjoyable. I admire the author's sense of adventure and p
Dave Hoff
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Judge a book by it's cover? The Norsk flag, the sled dogs & sled, a sure winner. Excluding 4 chapters which are of the author's open water experiences and the too common practice of giving Richard Byrd more credit than he deserves it's a great read. Since Amundsen was gracious to Byrd, even tho he knew Byrd hadn't flown over the North Pole, guess it behooves me to be kind also. At least she pointed out Bernt Balchen was the 1st pilot to fly over the South Pole & Cdr Shinn 1st pilot to la ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Rather disappointing both in terms of quality and contents.

Regarding quality, the work is not terrible, but the transitions are abrupt and the prose is flat.

Regarding quantity, perhaps this was a flaw in perception, but I expected this to be more about Amundsen's polar exploration (about which I've recently developed a keen interest) and less about the author's own cold-water swimming excursions. As impressive as her record-making swims must have been in terms of training, endurance, and achiev
Bill Bennett
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Holy bait and switch Batman! Based on the title you'd think the book "South to the Sun" was about polar explorer Roald Amundsen. How silly of us to assume! While parts of the book do deal with Amundsen in a very elementary manner, large portions are devoted to Ms. Cox's peculiar desire to swim in extremely cold water. Ms. Cox some how believes this activity makes her a kindred spirit to one of the most intrepid explorers of the 20th century. It doesn't. It makes her very cold and a hero in her o ...more
Katy Brackett
I struggled through the first 100 pages, hoping for something better. I wanted to like the work, and probably stuck with it longer than I should have due to loving the subject matter.

Cox's account reads as a dizzying school book report. It's as though she feels the need to make sure every. single. name. is mentioned.
Ms. Cox is an amazing adventure persona, with many acheivements under her belt. Writing, is unfortunately not one of them.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
The subtitle for this book is Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations & the Quest for Discovery. As far as that goes, the book is good. However, most of the book involves Lynne Cox's need to swim in strange waters. It is really HER book and not about the polar explorers. Since this was in the bibliography of a respected book, I expected a LOT more.

Don't bother to read this if you're looking for good, solid information on polar explorations. Find another source.
M- S__
Sep 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
I'll concede that this book probably earns its low average score because it really gives no indication that Lynne Cox herself will eat up half the text talking about her swims. But I honestly kind of enjoyed that story too. I never would've picked up a cold water swimmer memoir, but I found that world to be very interesting. And the Amundsen parts don't really suffer for it. You still get a lot of information about him.
Jim Mcinerney
Feb 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm glad I got this at the library. Paying for it would have been a waste of money.

It starts off well enough, but devolves into a personal travelogue that is not very interesting. The author keeps talking about folks she met in airports who ended up helping her organize various long distance swims. Yawn.

This book needed some serious editing.

Jun 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
The title of this book is very misleading. Yes, the book discusses Roald Amundsen's polar expeditions, but most of the book focuses on the author's own modern day networking to help her complete open water oceanic swims in the north and south. Needless to say I was quite disappointed as I was really looking forward to a book detailing Amundsen's expeditions.
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
I liked the concept about melding two stories about polar explorations together, but the execution was uneven. Some chapters were great (the one about Gjoa Haven) but others were not so great (the final chapter about antartic c-130 flyers). Some chapters seemed repetitive as if they were previously published essays.
Dec 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
From the title, one would assume this book is about Roald Amundsen. Actually, about two thirds concerns the authors obsession with taking brief swims in cold waters. The portions that are actually about Amundsen and his polar expeditions are interesting, but the balance of the book varies from inane to boring.
May 11, 2012 rated it it was ok

Like other reviewers, I enjoyed the historical narrative. I knew very little about Amundsen, and Cox did a good job telling me part of his story.
She lost my interest when she switched to her own story, though.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Lynne Cox seems to have become a better writer since Grayson. Altho' the last chapter about the flying of the plane goes on for a bit. I liked how she paralleled the Amundsen story with her swimming achievements.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinating - have a mug of hot chocolate nearby, though!
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not very well written, but I did enjoy how the narrator put her own experience swimming in absurd places in the book.
Thomas Van
niet onaardig maar naar het einde van het wel wat langdradig en te veel name dropping
Marc Robins
rated it it was ok
May 09, 2017
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Lynne Cox is an American long-distance open-water swimmer and writer.
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