A compelling case for rescuing Scott from the Land of Ridicule. (photos from the expedition archives)




A painstaking, no-frills recreation of Robert Falcon Scott’s South Pole bid, with a new perspective on the expedition’s cruel fate, from NOAA senior scientist Solomon.

It didn’t take long for the memory of Scott to turn from one of honor to derision, from hero to bumbler—a leader so inept that it’s a wonder that he made it to the Pole at all. No matter that the source of this image was generated in the backstabbing and beard-pulling world of envious scientists and explorers anxious to put down the work of a rival, it nonetheless stuck to Scott like grease from a seal-oil lamp. Out to set the record as straight as she can, and provide a complete picture of the expedition—balanced by short lead-ups to each chapter in the form of a contemporary Antarctic visitor narrating his experiences on a visit to the wondrous polar landscape—Solomon debunks the more outlandish accusations heaped on Scott: to the contrary, Scott’s team’s logistics were smart (if closely cut), and his leadership qualities were apparent most everywhere. More importantly, she suggests that Scott and his associates ran into a particularly nasty patch of weather (even by Antarctic standards) on their return from the Pole. That, plus some rotten luck when his boat got stuck in the ice, resulting in the team’s late start. Solomon also demonstrates that it is more likely that dehydration, rather than scurvy, plagued the explorers, that Scott was not crippled by Victorian inhibitions preventing him from eating seal meat, and that the thin, high-altitude air of Antarctica also contributed to their weakening. There are also important portraits of the expedition members, lending a sense of how the team interwove their strengths and weaknesses.

A compelling case for rescuing Scott from the Land of Ridicule. (photos from the expedition archives)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-300-08967-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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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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