The Coldest March


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Scott’s Fatal Antarctic Expedition

Susan Solomon

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“These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.” So penned Captain Robert Falcon Scott in 1912 as he confronted defeat and death in the crippling subzero temperatures of Antarctica. In this riveting book, Susan Solomon finishes the interrupted tale of Scott and his British expedition, depicting the staggering 900-mile trek to the South Pole and resolving the debate over the journey’s failure.

“An absorbing, fascinating read . . . a book that will appeal to the explorer in everyone.”—Sally Ride

“Solomon argues her case well, in exact and graceful prose.”—Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post Book World

“Persuasive. . . . [Solomon] reaches important new conclusions about Scott’s expedition.”—Sara Wheeler, New York Times Book Review

“Brilliant. . . . A marvelous 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, Guardian

“Solomon has crafted a smart, terrific book and an important addition to polar history.”—Roberta MacInnis, Houston Chronicle

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 honored with the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1999. Among her many other distinctions is an Antarctic glacier named in her honor.

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A selection of the Science Book Club

“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

“This is a very well balanced and meticulously researched book. It shows beyond doubt how false and shallow have been the many malicious and blinkered books and films in their bland condemnation of Captain Scott as a bumbler and inept leader. Quite the opposite was actually true and The Coldest March goes a long way to putting polar history right and thereby to killing off the vicious myth about one of Britain’s great explorers.”—Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Polar Explorer and considered by the Guiness Book of Records to be the world’s greatest explorer. In 1993, Fiennes and Dr. Mike Stroud completed a 97-day crossing of the Antarctic landmass, setting world records for both the longest unsupported polar journey and the first unsupported crossing of the continent.

“This is a highly readable story that should have a wide appeal.”—Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

“[A] convincing argument.”—Roberta MacInnis, Chicago Tribune

“[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, Guardian

“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 polar landscape—Solomon debunks the more outlandish accusations heaped on Scott. . . . A compelling case for rescuing Scott from the Land of Ridicule.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Ninety years later, the death of Scott and the loss of his expedition remain among the great enigmas of the 20th century. Hero or fool, he is today less a mortal man than a clear reflection of our ambivalence toward ambitions that proceed at any cost. The Coldest March captures that legacy in the full meridian of its glory.”—Robert Lee Hotz, Los Angeles Times

“[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 Lüdecke, Nature

“[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

"Laying to rest the myths and suppositions, Solomon shows Scott’s planning was principally defeated by this unusual period of exceptionally cold weather for which he could not have allowed. This book is a very important contribution to polar exploration literature."—David Walton, Polar Record

“[W]hatever 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.”—Publishers Weekly

“The book offers a compelling new explanation for what doomed Scott and four of his men.”—Sarah Simpson, Scientific American

“Disputes the notion that the deaths of the Antarctic explorer and his men were the result of incompetence; links the outcome of the ill-fated 1912 expedition to unusually frigid weather that would have been impossible to predict.”—The Chronicle of Higher Education

“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

“The principal delight of The Coldest March lies in Solomon’s deployment of the latest research on diet, equipment and, most significantly, the Antarctic climate, to explain the challenges Scott faced.”—Max Jones, Times Higher Education Supplement

“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

“I recommend this book to anyone with any interest in polar history or polar meteorology.”—Mike Brettle, Weather

“Here is a tale of high adventure—an enthralling, riveting, sometimes gruesome tale—told by an expert about experts! . . . This is a must-read book for anyone who wants a more complete knowledge of our extraordinary planet and our extraordinary species. . . . Solomon, a master of expression, paints a picture that makes you feel you were there. The Coldest March takes you on a journey you will not soon forget.”—Weatherwise

A New York Times Book Review ‘Notable Book of 2001’

Praise for Susan Solomon
Susan Solomon was named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover Magazine, 2002

Susan Solomon is the winner of the 2004 Blue Planet Prize for her contribution to the resolution of global environmental problems

“A great adventure story, made even more compelling by a modern scientific detective.”—Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior

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
ISBN: 9780300099218
Publication Date: December 11, 2002
416 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
77 b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: World excluding Australia and New Zealand