BOOKS: Fatal Fiasco

History is fine fiction in the hands of Beryl Bainbridge

The facts are these: in 1910 British navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott set out on his second expedition to Antarctica. Studying penguins was important, but there was also the urgency of beating the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen to the South Pole. The British brought motorized sleds and shaggy ponies but not enough dog teams. The sleds and horses soon broke down. On Jan. 18, 1912, Scott and four companions finally dragged themselves to the bottom of the world, where they found a month-old note from Amundsen. On the way back the runners-up had to fight fatigue, blizzards and temperatures low enough...

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