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The Coldest March - Scotts Fatal Antarctic Expedition (Anglais) Broché – 3 janvier 2003

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The Coldest March In 1912 Captain Robert Falcon Scott confronted defeat and death in the crippling subzero temperatures of Antarctica. This volume finishes the tale of Scott and his British expedition, depicting the staggering 900-mile trek to the South Pole and resolving the debate over the journey's failure. Full description

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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 416 pages
  • Editeur : Yale University Press; Édition : New edition (3 janvier 2003)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0300099215
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300099218
  • Dimensions du produit: 3,2 x 15,2 x 22,2 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Format: Relié
Il existait déjà bien d'autres livres sur les explorations de Scott en Antarctique. Dans celui-ci l'auteur nous apporte une vision nouvelle en mettant l'accent sur les aspects météorologiques des explorations de Scott à la lumière d'observations récentes. En tant que scientifique ayant voyagé a McMurdo, Susan Solomon nous fait partager aussi sa propre expérience du continent antarctique. Très bien écrit (l'anglais est presque littéraire), très bien documenté. Les illustrations sont en noir et blanc uniquement, ce qui est dommage mais sans doute nécessaire pour maintenir un prix attractif.
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Amazon.com: 33 commentaires
30 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent Meteorological Detective Work 4 janvier 2002
Par Peter Savage - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I've always been more interested in Arctic exploration than the Antarctic -- it seems less two-dimensional, and far more colorful in terms of history. But this book really got my attention. Solomon isn't some armchair theorist, she is an Antarctic professional, and an expert on weather conditions there. Taking a close look at what happened to Scott's 1911-12 expedition, and contrasting it with his earlier journey (with Shackleton) plus Shackleton's 1908 attempt, and the rival Amundsen polar bid, she shakes out a lot of rumors, innuendos and plain nonsense about what Scott 'knew' versus what he 'ought to have known.'
Scott has always seemed a stiff-upper-lip bumbler to me, and to some extent he was, but what happened is not as simple as it appears. He made some educated guesses, and he also made some mistakes. Using motor sleds was a waste of time, considering the poor engine technology of the time. He allowed someone else to select some unsuitable Manchurian ponies. He didn't trust dogs, based on prior experiences. He didn't pay enough attention to suitable clothing and sleeping bags. But he did set up a workable logistical system for his polar attempt, that should have worked.
So what went wrong? The factors above, plus too great a level of fatigue for his team. Poor Bowers ended up walking 400 miles in snow, instead of skiing. They didn't know, as we do, what a menace dehydration at high altitudes would be. Scurvy was poorly understood, and they probably suffered marginally from this, too. And finally, they set out for the Pole a month too late, and got caught in an extremely cold spell that made sledding by manhauling almost impossible. Solomon proves every contention with solid data from the expedition's copious records and from modern survey work. In the end, Scott died -- with Wilson and Bowers keeping him company, in all probability -- because he contracted severe frostbite in -40 degree weather. The idea that he was trapped by a '10 day blizzard' just eleven miles short of a supply depot is disproved by Solomon: the katabatic winds don't blow from the south for more than two or three days, it now seems.
This is a well-written, highly documented piece of work, and is not in any sense an attempt to 'whitewash' Scott. Starting late, and hitting some extremely bad weather was all it took to kill him and his four brave companions.
29 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Still not exonerated 27 octobre 2001
Par Susan Paxton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Susan Solomon has tried very hard in this well-written and documented new book to exonerate Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the leader of the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole in 1911-1912. In recent years Scott has been accused of everything from simple incompetence to real stupidity by critics of his leadership and organization, which Solomon, an NOAA scientist with a distinguished career and Antarctic experience, clearly finds unjustified. By extensively researching not only the original documentation - diaries of Scott and his men, the expedition's meteorological records, information from other Antarctic expeditions of the day such as Shackleton's 1908-1909 try for the pole and Amundsen's successful polar bid of 1911-1912 - but also modern meteorological data, now available for some years along the entirety of Scott's route to the pole (now the course for aircraft bound for the Amundsen-Scott Station), she has tried her level best to suggest that abnormally cold weather was the deciding factor in the loss of the five-man polar party. And indeed cold weather must have been a factor. The poor weather conditions not only would have debilitated the men and caused severe frostbite, the friction of cold snow would have made it almost impossible for the men to pull their sledges more than a few miles a day. Indeed Solomon has charted the progress of the polar party, comparing it with the two supporting parties that turned back short of the pole, and her information does demonstrate how badly slowed up Scott and his four companions were.
The trouble remains, however, that while poor weather clearly contributed to the loss of Captain Scott and his men, Scott's own mistakes and poor planning were also a factor, and to her great credit Solomon does not conceal them, just as Scott, an undeniably courageous and honest man, did not conceal them in his own writings. Scott's assiduous copying of Shackleton's mistakes in 1908-09 (the use of ponies, reliance on unproven motor transport), his own short cuts (spending time testing his motor sledges but not clothing, tents, or other gear), and his failures in leadership (taking five men instead of the planned four to the pole) were instrumental, I believe, in his failure to survive the trek. One also must question why, after the blizzard that trapped the men in their tent 11 miles from a depot of food and fuel, the two well men, Dr. Wilson and the redoubtable Lt. Bowers, did not leave Scott, who was crippled by frostbite, and go to the depot for supplies or even, in the finale extremity, leave Scott to die and save themselves, something Solomon herself seems to find as mysterious as others who have pondered the question, although she advances a possible explanation.
Overall this is a very good book, the first to take into account modern knowledge of Antarctic weather and apply it to Scott's tragic expedition. Although I don't feel that the author has entirely proved her thesis, it is a valuable and useful contribution to the controversy over Captain Scott's expedition.
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The wrong questions 28 décembre 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book is worth having and reading as a contribution to the pool of information available to the general reader to frame an informed imagining of what it might have been like, what could have happened, how people might have felt in Antarctica with Captain Scott.
However, many of the points the author raises in defense of Captain Scott seem to be in answer to the wrong questions. Why were Scott's people wearing fabric clothing? Because fur clothing would have been too hot for manhauling. This is an entirely reasonable answer to the wrong question. The expedition had ponies, dogs, and motor-sledges, and yet the expedition was dressed for man-hauling; and why was that? That underlying decision process may have been a good one, but it is not touched on, leaving us with a good answer to the wrong question.
The author's election of a frame-story puts me in mind of that used by Josephine Tey for her wonderful "The Daughter of Time." I enjoyed reading the real-time comparisions but quickly got tired of being preached at, and I find remarks such as "The visitor shakes his head at his own ignorant failure to truly grasp . . . the enormity of the task that Scott and his men faced" (p. 264) to be unnecessarily confrontational.
Susan Solomon writes well; I have no doubt that she is very intelligent, highly educated, passionate about her subject, and persuaded that an historical injustice has been committed. This book earns three stars well and truly for the shocking implications of the final chapter, "The Winds of Chance and Choice."
Her book sheds interesting light on what was going on during the Scott expedition, and I fully empathize with her desire to right what clearly seems to her to be a grotesque wrong done in the court of public opinion to Captain Scott's memory. She vigorously defends Scott on several issues raised about his decisions and conduct, frequently by shifting the blame to his subordinates -- a tactic distasteful to people with a military background. But her answers are to the wrong questions, and the book provides no grounds for defense of Captain Scott against many of the pertinent questions raised about avoidable errors of judgment contributory to the failure of the Scott polar expedition beyond that of "He made a mistake."
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Despite bungling, Scott might have made it back alive. 9 novembre 2001
Par Victoria - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
The Coldest March is a well-written and compelling enough book, that I feel bad to suggest it would have made a far better magazine article. Susan Solomon's exhaustive research does indeed convince one that the weather that year was extraordinarily harsh. But the essence of her argument as I saw it, is that despite undeniabley bad decisions and willfull ignorance, Scott probably would still have made it back alive 14 years out of 15.
Instead of leaving it at that however, which really is a facinating and original perspective, she tries quite hard to explain or rationalize Scott's decisions, which is usually a stretch, often requiring strategic ommission. She does not try to entirely exonerate the man, and I completely support her desire to avoid the shallow condemnation of Robert F. Scott as an incompetent bumbler, but I found myself again and again cringing at the examples she employed in his favor. The suggestion that the winter expedition of three men to Cape Crozier was a proper scientific experiment to determine nutritional requirements for the polar party is simply absurd.
Scott, Amudson and Shackleton were all facinating and complicated figures, sharing as do all great leaders, a mix of strengths and weaknesses that is almost impossible for the rest of us to really understand. They were also products of a unique historical era, social class, and national ideologies. Roland Huntford's book - The Last Place on Earth has done the best job of trying to consider all these factors, but there is definitely an anti-Scott sentiment to it.
Actually, after reading a good 8 or 9 books on the subject now, I have been amazed at the "polarization" of opinion and the slant each author places on their telling. Huntford describes Scott as foolishly loosing two dogs down a crevasse. Diane Preston (A First Rate Tragedy) describes the same event as Scott gallantly going down a crevasse to rescue the two dogs! Cherry-Garrard (A member of the expedition and author of The Worst Journey In the World - if you read just one book, read this!) has it most accurate, that Scott did go down to rescue the dogs, and then two died of their injuries.
Still, I recommend this book as a vital contribution to the facinating world of polar literature.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"The worst weather in the world" 16 juillet 2005
Par mwreview - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
The Coldest March (referring to the month as well as the verb) is about British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his team of explorers and scientists who raced a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen to the South Pole in 1911-12. Amundsen was the first ever to reach the Pole. Scott and four of his crew (hand-chosen by Scott) reached the Pole a month later. Amundsen's team made it back but Scott's did not. Many books and reports have been written since trying to explain why Scott failed to return. Many critics site several bad decisions on the part of Scott leading to the legend that he was a bumbler. Scott kept a journal right to the end and sometimes his self-effacing entries fueled the criticism.

Susan Solomon may seem to have an agenda. Throughout the book, Solomon attempts to defend many of Scott's decisions and actions. She has tremendous expertise in the subject. Solomon studied the Ozone layer in the Antarctic. She is a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado. When considering the legend of Scott, Solomon admits that she assumed the Brit explorer foolishly disregarded the power of Mother Nature until she studied the data and diaries left by Scott and his crew (xvii). While Solomon often defends Scott against highly critical historical accounts like Huntford's The Last Place on Earth, she is no apologist. She also points out Scott's errors and baffling decisions.

At the beginning of each chapter, Solomon includes part of the experiences of a modern-day Antarctic visitor. This visitor is not a specific person but a conglomeration of typical visitors. At first I was confused as, while reading about this modern experience, the story would shift gears to 1911-12. Soon, I figured out the pattern. The modern stories are at the beginning of each chapter (only about 2-3 pages each) and are in bold print. These stories are able to demonstrate clearly the issues or problems surrounding the Scott legend: i.e. comparing the huge stock of frozen vegetables at the warehouse there today and the comfortable living conditions against what Scott and his him men faced (pp. 71-2), the importance of drinking plenty of water in higher elevations versus the meager cups of tea Scott and company could drink each day with the scarce fuel they had, (p. 209), how much a visitor suffers in just a short period in extreme conditions (p. 286), etc. These stories, especially one explaining the need to risk snowblindness to better see crevasses (p. 183) helped me, as a reader who will never experience anything remotely close to the Antarctic, better understand the issues people face there.

Solomon clearly refutes points of criticism of Scott: i.e. that his men suffered from scurvy because they refused to eat seal meat or their ponies (pp. 3, 176), that the final five men who journeyed to the Pole did not have enough to eat because they only prepared food for four (p. 213), etc. She does point out Scott's weaknesses and mistakes. For example, he put too much faith in the opinions of some of his men (p. 86) and, even more importantly, he planned by the margins, putting too much stock in past experiences and not preparing for the possibility of worse case scenarios as did Amundsen. The inferior sleeping bags and faulty fuel cans were significant problems stemming from a lack of proper testing and preparation. Solomon is no sycophant and makes a fair assessment based on Scott's and his men's diaries and other primary sources.

What makes this work a fresh approach is the information on weather conditions taken from stations set up near Scott's path. They provided data for several decades demonstrating that the conditions Scott faced during the last month of their lives (March 1912) were extremely rare and perhaps unprecedented. What is puzzling is Solomon's conclusions which are contradictory. She discusses the rarity of the blizzard they faced in March 1912 and then shifts to explain that a 10-day blizzard noted in Scott's diary probably did not occur and that the men stayed in their tent for other reasons; one possibly being Scott's frost-bitten foot. Then, out-of-the-blue, Solomon mentions a suicide plan Scott wrote in his diary on March 11 involving opium tablets (p. 322). They decided not to take them but it seems odd to only mention such an entry briefly towards the end of the book. They probably lived another 18 or more days. Her confusing and inconclusive ending is the only criticism I have of this well-written and fascinating book. It is extremely well-researched and, on a historical level, offers fresh ideas and approaches. She also discusses the men on Scott's team (Edward Wilson, Lawrence Oates, Henry Bowers, Edgar Evans, Lt. Edward Evans, Apsely Cherry-Garrard, etc.) describing some of their backgrounds, characters, and personalities which added a lot to the human side of the story.
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