A circumspect, scrupulously detailed biography, quite sympathetic to the man, which pores over his change-of-fortune childhood, up-the-ladder naval career, and two polar journeys. Scott's is an already much-examined life (at least four biographies in the last ten years) but Huxley adds a full acquaintance with his journals and letters and vivid portraits of the others in his life--expedition-organizer Mark-ham, associates like Shackleton (who turned competitive) and devoted friend Wilson, and bohemian wife Kathleen Bruce. Huxley finds him moody and hard-pressed for money as a young man, praiseworthy as a captain on the Discovery, disconcerted by celebrity and the happiness of his marriage, and enigmatic on the Amundsen-overshadowed polar journey. Unquestionably, his scientific inclinations aided his crew and enhanced his heroic reputation; so, too, did his death on the way back from the Pole. Despite sub-zero hardships, certain amenities were maintained; yet Scott was aware of the iffy nature of some of his choices--ponies in the Antarctic, the ailing Oates as last-minute fifth man--and his farewell letters (twelve!) attest to a need to vindicate himself. More probing than Brent's Captain Scott, this rivals Reginald Pound's Scott of the Antarctic (1968) for perspicacity and style.