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Race to The End
Amundsen, Scott, and the Attainment of the South Pole
In connection with the world-famous American Museum of Natural History: the gripping true story of the race to the South Pole. A beautifully told, impeccably researched, and stunningly illustrated account of the arduous quest to reach the last place on earth--for scientific knowledge, king and country, and the rewards that come with recognition. A century ago, two explorers from vastly different backgrounds--Robert Falcon Scott on the British side and Roald Amundsen on the Norwegian--set out with their companions for the South Pole. The race between these “ideal antagonists” resulted in grand heroism, bitter tragedy, and the birth and perpetuation of myths that have lingered ever since. Race to The End takes readers along on each team's trek to glory--a harrowing journey across Earth's harshest, most unforgiving terrain. MacPhee--a polar scientist himself--not only tells a superb story about the competition to be the first to stand at 90°S, but also provides keen insights into the scientific and cultural milieu of the “heroic age” of Antarctic exploration. Using the explorers' own voices, he takes up the existential question always asked of those who embark on dangerous but potentially life-changing journeys: why do it? The book's extensively illustrated pages feature diary entries, letters, drawings, paintings, and period photographs. An added highlight is a series of never-before-published images of objects associated with the men of the British and Norwegian teams, including items recovered from Scott's last camp--where he died with his companions, mere miles from food and warmth.
Ross MacPhee is an evolutionary biologist and Curator of Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History, where he co-curated the museum's highly successful 1999 exhibition, “The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition.” He has conducted fieldwork in both polar regions; currently, he is searching for fossils of ancient mammals on islands in the northern Weddell Sea.
To accompany his American Museum of Natural History (AMNH exhibit, Race to the end of the Earth, open May 29 through January 2, 2011, MacPhee (curator, Division of Vertebrate Zoology, AMNH; Primates and Their Relatives in Phylogenetic Perspective) presents Robert Falcon Scott (for the UK) and Norwegian Roald Amundsen’s act to claim first arrival at the South Pole for his nation. Each explorer’s story has been told often before, dissected, and minutely examined owing to the tragedy that befell Scott and his crew on their return trip from the Pole, which Amundsen had reached first. What makes this volume special are the scores of pictures that bring both Scott’s and Amundsen’s stories to life, including heretofore unseen images of Scott’s last camp, an important contribution to polar literature, as well as excellent reproduction of diaries, the British Antarctic Expedition’s newspaper, the South Polar Times, and images of all the important individuals whose fate is inextricably tied to this quest. Race also includes fabulous panoramas taken from a February 22, 1913, edition of The Sphere, which commemorated Scott’s expedition. Gatefolds showing the two expedition routes to the pole are included. VERDICT: Such a cool book; the juxtaposition of these two polar expeditions in photographic detail makes Race a welcome addition to Antarctic literature and a must for adventure, polar, and exploration collections. Highly recommended. -- Library Journal