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Pilgrims on the Ice: Robert Falcon Scott's…

Pilgrims on the Ice: Robert Falcon Scott's First Antarctic Expedition

by T. H. Baughman

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0803212895, Hardcover)

By 1900, the great Victorian explorers had opened up vast areas of the Globe. As one of the world's few remaining uncharted tracts, Antarctica fired contemporaries' imaginations. To lead its Antarctic expedition of 1901, the Royal Geographical Society of London chose Robert Scott, a naval officer who was to die a decade later attempting to reach the South Pole. T. H. Baughman, Chair of History at Benedictine College, makes it clear that, in the 19th-century tradition, adventure rather than science was the overriding motivation for the 1901 expedition. With academic thoroughness he follows the venture's funding, the construction of a custom-built ship, and the vessel's slow journey south. For two years its crew explored new latitudes, enduring with basic equipment some of the most extreme weather on earth. Scurvy was a problem, clothing was primitive, and candles were insufficient for the long Antarctic winters. The enterprise was typical of the qualities that won the British Empire, a combination of amateurish blundering and stiff-upper-lip determination. Filled with human drama, the book offers a fascinating picture of Victorian social mores, the class distinctions between officers and men highlighted with telling (often food-related) vignettes. Besides its geographical discoveries, the expedition was important in providing experience for several of the later Antarctic explorers, including Shackleton and Scott himself. Since the discovery of extraordinary photographs taken on Shackleton's ill-fated expedition (see Caroline Alexander's The Endurance), interest in early polar exploration has surged. Pilgrims On The Ice is a major addition to the field. --John Stevenson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:54 -0400)

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