Pete daPixie's Reviews > The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition

The Coldest March by Susan Solomon
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's review
Jun 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: history, polar

Firstly, I have to tip my hat to the author of this work, and reproduce here what the book sleeve relates:-Susan Solomon is a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado. The leader of the National Ozone Expedition, she was honoured with the U.S. National Medal of Science for her insights in explaining the Antarctic ozone hole. Among her many other distinctions is an Antarctic glacier named in her honour.
'The Coldest March', published 2001 is a superbly balanced and science based investigation of the Terra Nova expedition of 1910-12 led by Robert Falcon Scott. Solomon utilises extensive diary entries and letters written by most of the 30 members of Scott's party, as well as post 1912 publications from Cherry-Garrard and George Simpson, and also includes modern meteorological data collected from the many Antarctic bases and weather stations over recent decades, to probe and explain the tragic end to this polar trek.
Scott, like Franklin before him, has been judged harshly regarding his leadership qualities on this fatal Antarctic expedition. (Often by armchair explorers who's true knowledge of polar regions is scant or non-existent.) Bumbler and inept are examples of the malignant tags that have been used in the assault.
Here is a most readable and senseful account that puts the record straight, not just for Scott but all the men who took part in this expedition. What I also appreciate in this book, are all the original photographs and modern charts and diagrams that are situated on the pages with the relevant text. Another clever touch, is the view of the modern day visitor to McMurdo base and South Pole base that helps to give the reader some kind of insight into the conditions endured in this most extreme of environments. As Scott himself wrote, "Great God! this is an awful place."

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