Customer Reviews: Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals
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on October 5, 2000
The authoritive reference for what happened on Scott's polar journey - since it was written by the man himself. Don't be put off by the appalling introduction by Bainbridge (which ruins the story if you don't know all the details since it is just a brief summary of the rest of the book - just skip it!). I wouldn't recommend reading this first (try Scott by Elspeth Huxley as an intro) but for historical interest if you get into the history of the antarctic this is a must. The actual description of the southern journey only makes up the final section of the book, most of it is concerned with the depot laying and over wintering parts of the expedition. As such most of the book is mostly concerned with the details of preparing for the journey and hence probably won't appeal as a general introduction to Scott's last expedition.
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on April 6, 2010
We had taken a trip to Antarctica on which lecturers referred often to Robert Scott. When we returned and I got this book, it became a reading experience like no other. Since everyone knows he and his men die at the end, that was not a surprise. The surprise was learning through the pages what would be the deciding factors that would ultimately cause their return to fail. Since I read thirty minutes a day, the unfolding drama read like a postcard from Scott to a sister or aunt telling events as they happened. Because it is a diary and includes the thoughts of a person, I came to know him like a friend. The book taught me how difficult it is to endure the challenges of Antarctica on a long term basis. It was an extraordinary experience with a book which I will always remember. May many others read this book and marvel at the character, motivation, determination and greatness of an amazing man.
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on July 12, 2002
While the story is known to most armchair explorers, nothing beats the saga right from the horse's mouth. Yes, the journal does drag in places, but so do long days of waiting in the Antarctic. It makes us impatient and edgy, wondering if the storms will ever end or what equipment will break next. Knowing the climax detracts nothing from how they got there--or didn't. This and Shackleton's own story really have to be read if one enjoys this kind of tale.
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on February 17, 2011
You have to give credit when credit is due. Even if Robert Falcon Scott made tons of errors while leading the Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica, even if those errors resulted in human loss, boy, what an extraordinary, marvelous writer he was.

After reading tons of adventure and exploration books, you tend to appreciate real talent when you encounter it.
Robert Falcon Scott was a GREAT writer. This book is about the brutal expedition Scott lead to be the first human being at the South Pole. By now, I guess you all know he came in second to Roal Amundsen by mere weeks, and gave up his life (along with those of his 4 comrades) while trying to get back to Cape Evans.

What those poor, frozen, starving and sick human being went through is simply horrific. And Scott's writing more than draw a clear picture of what they experienced.

I suggest you read Scott's journals first. Then, if you really want to know WHY they died, you can pick up "The last place on earth" by Roland Huntford, which is another masterpiece in it's own right.

Scott's book is one of the most poignant work of litterature you can pick up.
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on February 4, 2011
Why read this version, which has been heavily edited by multiple hands, when the original is now available, in the form of Huntford's Race for the South Pole: The Expedition Diaries of Scott and Amundsen? Though I would suggest skipping Huntfords commentary and just reading the diaries, for the first reading at least. Like so many in this controversy, Huntford has become a zealot and a bit hard to take.

BTW, there is a terrific amount of primary source Scott material on the net now, free for the taking, including the original SCOTT"S LAST EXPEDITION complete with nice period typesetting and original photos, no need to read third hand rehashes like this book.
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on June 9, 1998
Having read Beryl Bainbridge's "The Birthday Boys" first, I was curious to read the actual journals by the leader of this ill-fated expedtion to the South Pole. Yes, the diary format can be monotonous, but in a certain way it also serves to drive home the daily -- sometimes hourly -- struggles against every possible obstacle, from weather to poor planning to inappropriate equipment and animals to short rations to frozen oil. Scott strikes me as one of that vanished breed of Englishmen whose likenesses hang in the National Portrait Gallery who undertook all sorts of adventures in the name of science and exploration at the turn of the century and attempted to claim various "firsts" for the crown and greater glory of God and country. Wrongheaded though he may have been, this book really gripped me. When Scott and his disappointed, starving and sick companions freeze to death only miles from their last camp, it is truly tragic. Perhaps the factual nature of his journals makes the fate of this expedition even more poignant. The image of these men in their tent has been with me for several days now so the writing and the story clearly get to one. Amundsen wrote somewhere that Scott would be more remembered for what befell him that he himself would be for getting to the South Pole first. in fact, he was right.
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on March 6, 2013
Some of the negative reviews seem to be about another edition of Scott's Last Expedition (SLE). If you want to read this book, I would highly recommend this edition. Yes, when SLE was first published, there was a committee of people who had a hand in the editing (including Scott's conniving widow). Many of these people had agendas of their own. However, this edition has an entire appendix that restores all significant changes made to Scott's diaries. So to call this the "politically correct" version is completely wrong.
I was actually surprised by how few changes were made to Scott's original diary. It was common practice when publishing these expedition journals to edit out any parts that speak critically of others, especially anyone else on the expedition (Cherry-Garrard did the exact same thing when he had his publisher type up his expedition diary for him-he excised the parts where he wrote critically of others.). So it's no surprise that SLE's editors chose to do just that. But really, all things considered, there was not much edited out in the original publication. The appendix with the changes shown and restored is surprisingly short, and really doesn't throw Scott in much of a different light at all. However short, it is good to be able to read the changes and decide for oneself.
In addition to the appendix on the changes, there are other wonderful additions in this edition. There's a lengthy appendix full of interesting notes, on everything from when Amundsen's Framhein finally broke into the ocean (1980's) to what was known and not known about scurvy at the time of the expedition. There's another appendix of biographical sketches of all the men, including what happened to them in later years.
I almost read another edition of this book for free on my kindle, but I'm glad I bought this instead. It is well worth it.
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on December 13, 2012
Scott's antarctic jounals for the ill fated Terra Nova expedition of 1910-12, covers the trip from New Zealand to Cape Evans, the scientific endevours, the meticulous planning for the South Pole attempt and the human condition in such an extreme climate.As a reader, you really feel one of the expeditiary party.
Many libels and ridiculous accusations have been laid at Scotts door-chiefly since 1979 when Ronald Huntford published his ill informed book that has no basis in either fact or history,but for some reason has influenced popular belief (obviously-like Huntford et al,they haven't read these journals !) Critics to a man have absolutely no polar experience or knowledge. Those that do (Ranulph Feinnes amongst them) know that Scott's planning was excellent. He used every piece of information ever gathered on Antarctica (again, critics fail to understand that by 1910,very little was known about this continent at all-Scott used all arctic and Scandanavian data to help cope with the extremes)and he never engaged in "A race to the Pole",Scott's mission was chiefly scientific, and where Scott's party suffered extreme misfortune (on both outward and return journeys he suffered freak weather conditions;no one then or now could have predicted the unexpected month long temperature of -40f at that time of year-its still extremely rare today for this to occur) Amundsen had exteme good fortune and his expedition was solely to get to the Pole-as Amundsen and his party admit, their trip was of no value at all-they didn't even map their route! and the oft quoted red herring of use of dogs/ponies /man haul to try and smear Scott as an incompetent has no basis at all-Scott actually used all three methods and also an experimental motor sledge;his findings helping future usage and manufacture of these vehicles for polar use.Man haul was the only viable option on the sufaces he encountered-again,freak weather covered these with sand like snow;normal anticipated conditions would have seen no problem.Scott allowed a large margin for hld ups, but as said before, no one then or now could have predicted what Scott encountered.
Reading these journals,I became bemused at all the popular myths that serve to damn Scott, but by the end-traveling with Scott to his death through his journals- I became more than a little annoyed.It was a very brave endevour. Any other year it would have seen all safely there and back. Food/planing,everything was spot on. He merely succumbed to a cruel hand played out by nature, and you cant damn a man for that.
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on May 4, 2012
This e-book can be recommended for anyone interested in polar exploration adventures. You should also read the stories of Shackleton and Roald Amundsen. The errors Scott committed - particularly failure to train and prepare adequately (learing to ski for example) are lessons to all.
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on March 19, 2000
Whether these journals were edited or not is of small importance in the face of the challenge that these men attempted. Scarce few in this day could brave the monotony, much less the lack of conveniences and having to survive by their wits in an unforgiving environment. By the end, I felt as if I knew these men and I felt the loss as they weakened and succumbed to the ravages that nature wrought.
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