Fergus Fleming

The World’s Most Famous Failure

Scott of the Antarctic

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HarperCollins 637pp £25 order from our bookshop

Journals: Captain Scott’s Last Expedition

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Oxford University Press 529pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Is there no end to Scott? People have been banging on about him for ages. Was he a great man? Was he a stupid man? Imperial martyr or unimaginative martinet? Victim of freak weather conditions or agent of his own downfall? Back and forth the arguments have gone, hagiographers and revisionists taking their turn at the literary howitzer, to a point where we are almost deafened by the crump of exploding theories. No Antarctic explorer, not even Shackleton (and that’s saying something), has attracted so much attention. One would expect, by now, that a certain amount of battle fatigue might have set in. But no. Back to your dugouts for here comes another bombardment.

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