The tale of how Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen triumphed in the race to the South Pole, beating British contender Robert Scott by only two weeks, still grips our imagination 100 years later.

It is a heroic saga of human endurance stretched to the limit in a continent so harsh that no indigenous inhabitants lived there, made tragic by Scott's death on the ice. Hooper (The Ferocious Summer: Palmer's Penguin's and the Warming of Antarctica, 2007, etc.) focuses on six members of Scott's team who were given the task of exploring the glacial area to the east while Scott's team made a direct approach to the Pole. Their adventures and the hardships they endured is, writes the author, “one of the great tales of survival.” Although they landed with adequate supplies near a pre-existing hut, which served as their home base, the expectation was that they would be picked up by the expedition's ship the following summer. When the ship failed to return for them as planned, their supplies ran out and their situation begin to deteriorate. To survive, they had to find a way, on foot, through the ice, and reconnect with Scott's backup team. While writing the book, Hooper had access to the scientific notebooks, diaries and letters of members of the expedition, archived at Cambridge University, and she is familiar with her subject, having spent three summers living in Antarctica as a writer chosen to record the work of the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions and the U.S. National Science Polar Program. She vividly describes the glacial terrain they traveled, the ravages of the weather and the flora and fauna of the region. A grand story of six brave men who literally and figuratively pulled together in their race for survival.  


Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58243-762-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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