Thursday, March 15, 2012

by Meredith Hooper

When Captain Robert Falcon Scott set off for his infamous British Antarctic Expedition in November 1910 from New Zealand, fifty-nine people were with him on his ship. Thirty-one of the men were part of the shore party which was then separated into two divisions: Eastern and Western.
There were six members of the Eastern party and their objective was to explore and do science: geology, meteorology, etc. Scott's aim was to reach the South Pole. When the six men (three officers and three seamen) said their good-byes to Scott, they had no idea that they would never see him again. They survived but he didn't.
There's been tons of books written about Scott with both accolades and severe criticism. Having read most of them, I never knew about the other expedition until now. What these six men went through existing together first in a hut, then tents, and then a man-made ice-cave (which they dug) is truly remarkable. Although one man, Campbell, was the leader, they all learned to support one another and the lines of authority dissolved. Their suffering united them.
They are the true heroes.
Meredith Hooper has written an outstanding story based on diaries, journals, and letters of the men on the expedition. She actually visited the locations where the men were. Hooper is quite an authority on the Antarctic having lived and worked there for fifteen years.
A tremendous read.
Highly recommended.