This book was named one of the finest books of 2001 by the "Economist"; named a 2001 Book of the Year by the "Independent"; and a "New York Times Book Review" Notable Book of 2001.
Susan Solomon is senior scientist at the Aeronomy Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado. An acknowledged world leader in ozone depletion research, she led the National Ozone Expedition and was honoured with the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1999. Among her many other distinctions is an Antarctic glacier named in her honour.
British explorer Robert Scott's legacy has been debated since his ill-fated 1911 expedition. Initially pegged a hero, he's subsequently been maligned as a bumbler who lost the race to the South Pole and died, with four companions, because of his mistakes. Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, attempts to restore Scott's reputation, arguing that unnaturally cold weather (weeks of -35 F.), not poor judgment, caused the captain's demise. She traces the polar expedition (Scott's second) using modern scientific evidence and the explorers' diaries. In clear, well-paced prose, Solomon paints characters and landscape deftly and delivers well-conceived arguments. But the book is not without flaws. Each chapter has a forced, heavy-handed though sometimes amusing introduction featuring a fictional visitor to contemporary Antarctica. And while Solomon's arguments are plausible, they are not ironclad. To her contention that Scott's plans didn't work because of extreme weather, one might answer that he should have planned for any possible situation; his Norwegian rivals, for instance, took more than enough provisions. Still, whatever opinion readers have of Scott when they start the book, by the end he will have risen in their esteem. Solomon's exhaustive research provides readers with enough information to form their own opinion. B&w photos and illus. (Sept. 10) Forecast: This book should be popular among exploration buffs because of its new scientific information. The book could get lost among the many polar adventure tales, though Solomon's fluid, accessible writing, her five-city tour and events at the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian may distinguish it from the crowd. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"[A] brilliant revisionist account of Scott's tardy and fatal march
for the South Pole in 1911. . . . Highly original, beautifully
presented and remarkably modest, the book is the fruit of Solomon's
long-standing professional involvement with Antarctica and its
history. . . . [Solomon] has written a marvellous and complex book:
at once a detective story, a brilliant vindication of a maligned
man, and an elegy both for Scott and his men, and for the
'crystalline continent' on which they died."-Robert MacFarlane,
"[P]ersuasive. . . . [Solomon] reaches important new conclusions about Scott's expedition. . . . This thorough account . . . will be useful to anyone interested in polar matters."-Sara Wheeler, New York Times Book Review
"This brilliant revisionist account of Scott's fatal bid for the South Pole by an atmospheric scientist specialising in Antarctica proves that Scott and his men died not from incompetence, but because of exceptional cold on their return march."-The Economist
A New York Times Book Review 'Notable Book of 2001'
"[Solomon is] one of the world's leading atmospheric scientists. . . . [The book is] the very neatly, indeed thrillingly, told tale of Scott's journey, along with Solomon's expert analysis of the weather he faced and its effect on the expedition. . . . Solomon's is a fine and interesting book, and it sets the record straight at last."-Anthony Brandt, National Geographic Adventure
"Well researched and well written, and should appeal to a broad readership, as well as to meteorologists and polar historians."-Cornelia Ludecke, Nature
"Solomon argues her case well, in exact and graceful prose. She suggests an intriguing solution to certain puzzles about the expedition's finale, and The Coldest March will appeal to anyone with an interest in polar exploration."-Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World
"As a vivid depiction of the ordeals and beauty of the Antarctic, Solomon's book is outstanding."-Frank Wintle, Daily Express (starred review)
"[A] fascinating account that gets under the skin of the tragedy's players."-Stuart Wavell, London Times
"The book makes for a ripping yarn, not least because Solomon the scientist can also write."-Charles Laurence, Telegraph Magazine
"We will never know all the answers to some of the questions that Solomon addresses. One may not agree with all her conclusions, but the book provides new insight into old problems, and may have come closer to the truth than any other book on Scott, his comrades, and their fateful expedition."-Bryan C. Storey, The International History Review
"Highly original, beautifully presented and remarkably modest, the book is the fruit of Solomon's long-standing professional involvement with Antarctica and its history. . . . A marvellous and complex book: at once a detective story, a brilliant vindication of a maligned man, and an elegy both for Scott and his men, and for the 'crystalline continent' on which they died."-Robert MacFarlane, The Observer
Winner of the 2001 Colorado Book Award in the Nonfiction Category
Winner of the 2001 Louis Battan Prize in the adult category, given by the American Meteorological Society
"An inspiring chronicle of Antarctic scientific exploration at its most heroic. From the vantage point of history and her personal experience in Antarctica and with all the human and scientific insights of the outstanding scientist that she is, Susan Solomon has written a masterpiece. It is a tale of vision, courage, endurance, patriotism, loyalty, and all the strengths and frailties of the human spirit. Above all, it is good science, good history, and gripping reading."-J. W. Zillman, president of the World Meteorological Organization
"Scott's South Pole expedition ended in tragedy. This book is a valuable and sympathetic contribution to the great story, written by the leader of an expedition that ended in triumph."-Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch and Time, Love, Memory
"A fresh and captivating look at one of the most tragic sagas in the annals of exploration. Solomon takes the reader on a breathtaking ride through Antarctica's beauty, history, and uniquely forbidding weather. Carefully researched, innovative, and elegantly written, The Coldest March will fascinate and inform anyone intrigued by polar adventure or the interplay of science and society."-Paul Ehrlich, author of Human Natures and Wild Solutions
"An absorbing, fascinating read . . . a book that will appeal to the explorer in everyone."-Sally Ride
"A great adventure story, made even more compelling by a modern scientific detective."-Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior
In November 1911, Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and his British team set out to be the first to reach the South Pole. Battling the brutal weather of Antarctica, they reached the pole in January 1912 only to discover that a Norwegian team had beat them there by nearly a month. On their return from the Pole, Scott and four of his companions died in harsh conditions. Ever since, history has not known whether to label them heroes or bunglers. Solomon, senior scientist at the Aeronomy Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Boulder, CO) and recipient of the U.S. National Medal of Science in 2001 for her insights into explaining the cause of the Antarctic ozone layer, analyzes all the factors present during Scott's expedition in an attempt to explain that his failure was due not to incompetence but to a combination of unpredictable weather, erroneous choices, and bad luck. She retells the story of the expedition bit by bit, inserting scientific facts concerning the climatology of Antarctica today and in 1912. Meticulously covering the minutest details, she paints a different but accurate picture of Captain Scott and his ill-fated expedition. An interesting read for anyone interested in true explorers; recommended for all libraries. Sandy Knowles, Henderson Cty. P.L., NC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.