- Taschenbuch: 416 Seiten
- Verlag: Yale University Press; Auflage: New ed (3. Januar 2003)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0300099215
- ISBN-13: 978-0300099218
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,2 x 3,2 x 22,2 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 570.333 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
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The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 3. Januar 2003
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The icy deaths of Robert Falcon Scott and his companions on their return from the South Pole in 1912 made them English icons of courage and sacrifice. Soon, however, Scott's judgments and decisions were questioned, and his reputation became one of inept bungler rather than heroic pioneer. Susan Solomon, senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Colorado, approaches Scott's story from a meteorologist's point of view. She shows that the three weeks from February 27 to March 19, during which the explorers fell further and further behind the daily distances they had to cover in order to survive, were far colder than normal. Unusual blizzards of wet snow had already slowed the party and depleted their provisions and strength. Without these once-in-a-decade phenomena, Solomon believes the party would have returned to its base on the Ross Sea--second after Roald Amundsen in the race to the Pole, but safely. She opens each chapter with comments from a hypothetical modern visitor to Antarctica, presumably to give a wider context to the human drama of the last century, though this reviewer finds them inappropriate. She enriches her narratives of Scott's two Antarctic expeditions with vintage photographs and tables of meteorological data that highlight the explorers' achievements. Their determination was pitted against the worst weather in the world. Scott's story has been told many times before, but its weather information makes The Coldest March a useful addition to the literature. --John Stevenson -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe.
"An absorbing, fascinating read ... a book that will appeal to the explorer in everyone."
"Solomon argues her case well, in exact and graceful prose."
"Persuasive....[Solomon] reaches important new conclusions about Scott's expedition."
"Brilliant.... A marvelous and complex book: at once a detective story, a brilliant vindication of a maligned man, and an elegy both for Scott and his men and for the 'crystalline continent' on which they died."
"Solomon has crafted a smart, terrific book and an important addition to polar history."
"An absorbing, fascinating read . . . a book that will appeal to the explorer in everyone."
"Persuasive. . . . [Solomon] reaches important new conclusions about Scott's expedition."
"Brilliant. . . . A marvelous and complex book: at once a detective story, a brilliant vindication of a maligned man, and an elegy both for Scott and his men and for the 'crystalline continent' on which they died."
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Susan Solomon may seem to have an agenda. Throughout the book, Solomon attempts to defend many of Scott's decisions and actions. She has tremendous expertise in the subject. Solomon studied the Ozone layer in the Antarctic. She is a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado. When considering the legend of Scott, Solomon admits that she assumed the Brit explorer foolishly disregarded the power of Mother Nature until she studied the data and diaries left by Scott and his crew (xvii). While Solomon often defends Scott against highly critical historical accounts like Huntford's The Last Place on Earth, she is no apologist. She also points out Scott's errors and baffling decisions.
At the beginning of each chapter, Solomon includes part of the experiences of a modern-day Antarctic visitor. This visitor is not a specific person but a conglomeration of typical visitors. At first I was confused as, while reading about this modern experience, the story would shift gears to 1911-12. Soon, I figured out the pattern. The modern stories are at the beginning of each chapter (only about 2-3 pages each) and are in bold print. These stories are able to demonstrate clearly the issues or problems surrounding the Scott legend: i.e. comparing the huge stock of frozen vegetables at the warehouse there today and the comfortable living conditions against what Scott and his him men faced (pp. 71-2), the importance of drinking plenty of water in higher elevations versus the meager cups of tea Scott and company could drink each day with the scarce fuel they had, (p. 209), how much a visitor suffers in just a short period in extreme conditions (p. 286), etc. These stories, especially one explaining the need to risk snowblindness to better see crevasses (p. 183) helped me, as a reader who will never experience anything remotely close to the Antarctic, better understand the issues people face there.
Solomon clearly refutes points of criticism of Scott: i.e. that his men suffered from scurvy because they refused to eat seal meat or their ponies (pp. 3, 176), that the final five men who journeyed to the Pole did not have enough to eat because they only prepared food for four (p. 213), etc. She does point out Scott's weaknesses and mistakes. For example, he put too much faith in the opinions of some of his men (p. 86) and, even more importantly, he planned by the margins, putting too much stock in past experiences and not preparing for the possibility of worse case scenarios as did Amundsen. The inferior sleeping bags and faulty fuel cans were significant problems stemming from a lack of proper testing and preparation. Solomon is no sycophant and makes a fair assessment based on Scott's and his men's diaries and other primary sources.
What makes this work a fresh approach is the information on weather conditions taken from stations set up near Scott's path. They provided data for several decades demonstrating that the conditions Scott faced during the last month of their lives (March 1912) were extremely rare and perhaps unprecedented. What is puzzling is Solomon's conclusions which are contradictory. She discusses the rarity of the blizzard they faced in March 1912 and then shifts to explain that a 10-day blizzard noted in Scott's diary probably did not occur and that the men stayed in their tent for other reasons; one possibly being Scott's frost-bitten foot. Then, out-of-the-blue, Solomon mentions a suicide plan Scott wrote in his diary on March 11 involving opium tablets (p. 322). They decided not to take them but it seems odd to only mention such an entry briefly towards the end of the book. They probably lived another 18 or more days. Her confusing and inconclusive ending is the only criticism I have of this well-written and fascinating book. It is extremely well-researched and, on a historical level, offers fresh ideas and approaches. She also discusses the men on Scott's team (Edward Wilson, Lawrence Oates, Henry Bowers, Edgar Evans, Lt. Edward Evans, Apsely Cherry-Garrard, etc.) describing some of their backgrounds, characters, and personalities which added a lot to the human side of the story.
There cannot be final proof about the cause of the polar party's deaths but Susan Solomon makes a convincing case that unusually cold weather was a deciding but not the only factor. The author poses an interesting hypothesis at the end of the book about the final factor that prevented the party from reaching the one-ton depot and safety, but I won't spoil it for you.
Most of us will never have the opportunity to go to Antarctica, lead explorations or perform feats of daring. This is the appeal of Scott and his men and why this is such an interesting story.