A First Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole

Preston, Diana
Year Published: 

"On November 12, 1912, a rescue team trekking across Antarctica's Great Ice Barrier finally found what they sought -- the snow-covered tent of the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Inside, they made a grim discovery: Scott's frozen body lay between those of two fellow explorers. They had died just eleven miles from the depot of supplies that might have saved them. The remaining two members of the party were nowhere in sight, but Scott's eloquent diary revealed their nightmarishly similar fate. It is a story that continues to haunt the popular imagination, and which has never been told more grippingly or with greater compassion than in this book.

British explorer Robert F. Scott spent three years exploring the Antarctic, returning to England a hero in 1904. His ambition was to be the first man to reach the South Pole, and he overcame innumerable obstacles to assemble another expedition, which left in 1910. Scott and three of his men did reach the pole, only to discover that Norwegian Roald Amundsen had been there only five weeks earlier. Slightly more than two months later, Scott and his companions died in their tents, their bodies--and Scott's diaries--found eight months later by a search party. This account of Scott, having followed the explorer from childhood through his naval training and marriage, gives us at the end not only a national symbol but a fully developed tragic hero. Diana Preston commendably ventures beyond the longstanding myth, including material that shows how Scott's decisions and faulty judgements ultimately sealed his fate

I almost feel as if I read a different book than some of the other reviewers. I have read many books about the ""Scott and Amundsen race"" and don't feel that I need to judge either one. I feel that the author of ""A First Rate Tragedy"" very fairly presents the attitudes, social structure, and knowledge of the times...which are critical to understand in reading about the early exploration of the Antartic. It's so easy to sit here and judge what was done 100 years ago! But the fact remains that whether Scott was incompetent or unlucky (probably some of both), his story is incredible just as his journey is incredible. The author tells the story in a very well-researched but interested manner. I recommend this for both the experienced Antarctic reader and the beginner. ENJOY!"

3.5 of 5