Captain Scott

Published 2003 by Hodder and Stoughton.


I so much wanted this to be a definitive biography which would meet the Scott critics head on and set the record straight. Scott was either a great leader (slightly unlucky) or incompetent man-manager well out of his depth, depending on the preconceptions of the particular author. This book is part of this series. It needed to put up a direct counter-argument for say, Roland Huntsford's full-fronting kicking of Scott. It fails to do so. This failure is not the author's fault, he can only work from the material available although someone else would have drawn a different conclusion from the same material. Fiennes, does however, make a good story even better and the book is not to be dismissed by the serious reader of this subject. He may also be in a unique position in understanding the physical and mental attributes required of an Antarctic explorer and makes a good job of getting these important considerations on paper. He does make a case for Scott being misunderstood and his intentions misinterpreted and I would like to say it sets the record straight but I have this nagging doubt it is just a bit too biased. It is a reply to the Scott critics but I am afraid it's not a convincing one.
This book precisely shows why the study of the heroic age explorers is so interesting. As much as I would like to believe Scott was a much-maligned hero I will need more than this book provides to be totally convinced.
S.E.