Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen: Leadership, Character and Tragedy in the Antarctic

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 87%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (16) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $7.95   
  • Used (9) from $1.99   


Between the middle of January and the end of March 1912 five men died in the attempt to return from the South Pole to their base on the edge of Antarctica. Their leader, the last to die and the man whose diary described their agonies was Robert Falcon Scott. The expedition had been beaten to the Pole by a band of racing Norwegians, led by Roald Amundsen. The bodies of the last three to die were found seven months later and, ever since, Scott's men have been British heroes. It is that legend, as much as their ordeal that is the subject of this book. Scott's men and the supporting characters, Amundsen and Shackleton, his rivals; Clement Markham, his discoverer; his wife Kathleen—give a fascinating picture of English society before the First World War. The story of the drama becomes also an illustration of human and social character. And, to the extent that Scott is legendary in England, the book tells something about the English and their attitude to duty. "When Thomson writes a book, it is time for celebration."—Booklist " "Thomson is an expert: an expert storyteller, critic, thinker, investigator and observer of the all-too-human landscape."—Steven Bach

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Here, film critic Thomson takes on the race to the South Pole between the English team led by Scott and Amundsen's Norwegian expedition. This 1977 history portrays Scott's story also as that of the English sense of duty. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Better known today for his books of film biography, history, and criticism (Rosebud, 1996, etc.), Thomson initially came to attention in his native Britain with this vivid 1977 analysis of the great race to the South Pole and the character of the men who led the efforts. Roland Huntford gained greater notoriety in 1979 with the far more trenchant Scott and Amundsen, but Thomson was the first to critically assess the myth of England's beloved national hero, Robert Falcon Scott, who perished with four of his men after their second-place finish in the 1912 race for the Pole. Slightly revised and with a new title for its first US publication, this (originally called Scott's Men) re-examines conventional wisdom regarding the expedition, from the choice of Scott as leader to his claim that he didn't much care if he got there first. Beginning with the details of how the expedition was manned and planned, the author develops a convincing thesis: national character allowed Norwegian Roald Amundsen to reach the pole first and with relative ease. Whereas Amundsen's men grew up on skis, Scott's were never comfortable with them; Amundsen was able to be unsentimentally efficient in the use of his dog teams, but the Englishmen's sympathy for the beasts led them to attempt to reach the pole by "man-hauling." From a rather slow beginning, Thomson proceeds to conjure the great drama that unfolded in the white wasteland. Scott's ideas of virtue, his rigid adherence to naval protocol, his reluctance to learn from the Norwegians, and his capricious decisions (the worst of which was sending three of his best men on a brutally debilitating trip to collect emperor penguin eggs before attempting the pole), allseem to declare the grim inevitability of failure. Nonetheless, Thomson maintains, "It does not mar Scott's heroism to recognize the confusing strain of misguidedness." Compelling, clear-eyed examination of Scott's actions and larger notions of what makes a hero.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560254225
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2002
  • Series: Adrenaline Classics Series
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,461,095
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

David Thomson

David Thomson is the author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film and many other books including Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick, Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles, and In Nevada. He lives in San Francisco.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)