The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen

The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen

by Stephen R. Bown
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The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen by Stephen R. Bown

The Last Viking unravels the life of the man who stands head and shoulders above all those who raced to map the last corners of the world. In 1900, the four great geographical mysteries—the Northwest Passage, the Northeast Passage, the South Pole, and the North Pole—remained blank spots on the globe. Within twenty years Roald Amundsen would claim all four prizes. Renowned for his determination and technical skills, both feared and beloved by his men, Amundsen is a legend of the heroic age of exploration, which shortly thereafter would be tamed by technology, commerce, and publicity. Féted in his lifetime as an international celebrity, pursued by women and creditors, he died in the Arctic on a rescue mission for an inept rival explorer.

Stephen R. Bown has unearthed archival material to give Amundsen’s life the grim immediacy of Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, the exciting detail of The Endurance, and the suspense of a Jon Krakauer tale. The Last Viking is both a thrilling literary biography and a cracking good story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306820670
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication date: 09/25/2012
Series: A Merloyd Lawrence Book Series
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Stephen R. Bown is the author ofScurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner and A Gentleman Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail, selected as one of the Globe and Mail’s Top 100 books of 2004, and A Most Damnable Invention: Dynamite, Nitrates and the Making of the Modern World, selected for the Scientific American Book Club, the History Book Club and the Quality Paperback Book Club. He lives with his wife and two young children near Banff in the Canadian Rockies.

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The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
A_Sloan More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed some classics in this genre such as Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage and Arctic Adventure: My Life in the Frozen North (which is a lessor known but great account of life in the Arctic). So I was interested in The Last Viking. The Last Viking is a well-crafted work on both the life and achievements of Roald Amundsen, one of history's greatest explorers. Among Amundsen's headline accomplishments were that he was the first European to sail the Northwest Passage, the first person to see the North Pole, and the first human to reach the South Pole. The Norwegian press called him "The Last Viking." While author Stephen R. Bown is clearly taken with Amundsen's life and heroics, he doesn't shy away from showing us his warts too. Bown gives us a 21st century look at Amundsen, a man characterized by intense determination and passion, but with a stubbornness and inability to express feelings that could be infuriating; a man who was capable of great charm, but also great arrogance. But when it came to exploration, Amundsen had the humility to learn from the Intuit who, unlike most Europeans of his day, he considered his cultural equal. Bown does a fine job chronicling the details and historical context of Amundsen's adventures. Through these details, we get entertaining accounts of the travels and travails of the Last Viking. Armchair explorers will be pleased as there is plenty of good adventure, such as plane crashes and maulings by polar bears.