Race to the End: Amundsen, Scott, and the Attainment of the South Pole.

A straightforward and well-written recounting of the Terra Nova expedition, intended as a companion volume to the AMNH’s 2010 centenary exhibition on Scott and Amundsen’s 1910 expeditions. MacPhee is a moderate critic of Scott’s deficiencies and Amundsen’s megalomania.

p. 84, photograph of Cecil Meares at pianla, and the following caption: Among the entertainments at Cape Evans during the winter of 1911 were Ponting’s banjo-playing (average) roughhousing and sports (whenever possible), lectures (varaiable in quality and interest), books, gramophone, and this Broadway “pianola” or player piano, located in the wardroom section of the hut and played with a foot pedal. Here it is being put through its paces by Cecil Meares. The large object to the left is the Gurney’s Patent Stove used for heating; above Meares’ head on the piano top are a precariously situated microscope and a theodolite, used for surveying. The title visible at the end of the row of books is Ponting’s In Lotus Land: Japan, which he positioned unashamedly in this scene.

p. 179, towards the end of the fatal retreat from the Pole, Wilson had written in his diary, addressed to his wife Oriana that “Your little testament and prayer book will be in my hand or in my breast pocket when the end comes. All is well.”

Wilson had taken a dogeared copy of The Book of Common Prayer with him on all his sledging trips, including this one: The flyleafs and pastedowns—indeed, most spare surfaces, are covered with religious meditations in his tiny, spindery hand. Many inscriptions are no longer legible, but those that are tell of a man for whom death and the hereafter held nothing but wonder and promise. None is dated, but there is one passage on the front flyleaf that may serve, as much as anything can, to give an insight into his stte of mind during his last days on the Barrier. The meditation is on Christ’s last utterance (underlined words) on the cross, when he receives a drinkf of vinegar, and then gives up his spirit:

It is finished. This teaches us that everything is ready, that we can come to the marriage feast of the Lamb, that we haven’t to save ourselves, that we haven’t to make our atonement—that it is done. All is ready for us.