Books, Reading, Review
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‘South Pole: 1910-1913’ by Christine Dell’Amore

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may (or may not) have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for reading about cold places, in particular Antarctica. Of special interest to me are the years in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, in which Antarctic exploration was at its peak, and the race to be the first to the South Pole had captured the imagination of the public. There was a fierce rivalry between two men in this race; Sir Ernest Shackleton, and Captain Robert Falcon Scott –  although they would both be beaten to the prize of the Pole by the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen. SouthPoleSouth Pole: 1910-1913 focuses on the ultimately tragic journey made by Captain Scott and his men, as they attempted to reach the heart of perhaps the most inhospitable place on the planet. The book is essentially the abridged version of the expedition, but by no means does it lack any of the adventure of the biographies of these heroic figures.

Perhaps best described as a coffee table book, this beautiful record of Scott’s expedition contains photographs taken on the expedition, as well as a smattering of Scott’s own journal entries. The photographs in particular are wonderful to look at, especially when considering they were taken over 100 years ago in one of the harshest climates on the planet, and with none of today’s technology; they capture perfectly the harshness of the environment and the courage of the men who ventured there.

I hope one day to travel to Antarctica myself and see the huts that still stand today on the frozen ground; the huts that housed some of these men for three years. The historical importance of these structures is beyond value: they are the only human structures standing on any continent that were the first to be built there, but they are also home to the instruments these men used on the expedition, almost as a shrine to these men and a time capsule of early scientific exploration. Recently the Antarctic Heritage Trust completed a restoration of the hut at Cape Evans, a project that took around six years and thousands of hours of manpower. An enormous undertaking in a friendly environment, let alone one which is permanently frozen and virtually isolated geographically – a very admirable feat in my opinion.

So, if you’re like me and passionate about the preservation of human history, you should go check out the Antarctic Heritage Trust website, see what they’re all about and if you’re feeling generous, make a small donation. Otherwise, pick up a copy of this book and (like me), dream about cold places, and times when feats of heroism were truly great.

“Summertime at the South Pole brings frigid gusts that can numb exposed skin in seconds, and the continent’s combination of high altitude and the world’s driest air poses a challenge to simple movement at any time of year. Which is why it’s all the more remarkable that one hundred years ago, a team of British explorers pulled sledges for hundreds of miles on a journey from the Ross Sea to the South Pole.”

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5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Stuff I Did – Shackleton Exhibition | bitsnbooks

  2. This book looks cool (get it)! I find the exploration of Antartica interesting too. I remember at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas a couple of years ago there was a presentation by a couple of Aussie guys who went there to be the first unsupported (as in, with no crew) people to walk from the edge of Antartica to the South Pole and back. Funnily enough, they too found themselves pitted against a Norwegian, but after barely making it out alive they found him waiting there near the finish for them – he wanted to cross with them so they all shared the record. They have a book, Extreme South or something I think it is called, but it seems to be out of print which is a real shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That book sounds amazing. I’m now determined to find a copy of it (whatever it’s called). There’s another Aussie, Tim Jarvis, who has made lots of expeditions into the Antarctic – he’s recreated a couple of the big ones and has some books about them. I have to get those too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Okay I did a little research and the book is still in print but I think they only sell it from their own website now (understandable I guess) but you can find it here:
        http://casandjonesy.com.au/shop/extreme-south-the-book/
        I’ve heard of Tim Jarvis too – there’s some pretty inspiring people out there. Inspiring in that sort of “I respect that you do this crazy stuff but you ain’t making me do anything even close to it” way. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cool – thanks for that! I’ll go check it out.
          I agree with you about all that crazy stuff. It’d be awesome to do it, but I’d rather live vicariously through someone else!

          Like

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