Antarctica Unveiled: Scott’s First Expedition and the Quest for the Unknown Continent.

A fairly thorough study of the Discovery expedition (1901-04), very sympathetic to Scott, managing to skewer Huntford’s speculations against Scott in a gentle way in footnote after footnote. His maps of the period are more confusing than helpful, but it is a sound study and a fairly good read. It does seem to me that his attempt to create the sense of a race between the German expedition of Drygalski and the Gauss with Scott’s ventures is purely hypothetical. And he does have a penchant for determinist chapter headings; Preordained Strategies; To the Threshold of Destiny; The Best-Laid Schemes…; Hostages in a Frozen Trap; Slings and Arrows of Misfortune; and The Expeditions Fateful Legacy.

p.41-42: On October 20 [1900] Scott took the train to Berlin, reading Dr. Frederick Cook’s account of De Gerlache’s Belgian expedition on the way: “Oct. 20th: Left Copenhagen 10.20—arrived Berlin 8.30 p.m., nothing very eventful—read Cook’s account—they must be a poor lot except Lecointe who alone appears to have had some grit—the food seems to have been very bad.” As harsh as his judgment was of men in advanced stages of malnutrition, Scott would not forget the lesson behind his comment on the food. Lecointe’s book eventually made clear that what lay behind Scott’s comment on the food was De Gerlache’s refusal to allow seal meat to be served—“what would the press say when it got out that they had eaten seals!!” he had said to Lecointe in justification of his refusal.

But the evidence about scurvy Scott read on his long train journey was far from straightforward. The word scurvy does not appear in Cook’s book, in which he uses the term polar anaemia, the main symptoms of which were not those habitually characteristic of the dreaded disease. For Scott, the one clue in the book was the description of swollen ankles in the July epidemic and the effectiveness of Fried penguin and seal steaks in combating the condition after De Gerlache had been overruled. The other customary symptoms—swollen gums and stiff joints—are never mentioned in the book. Contrary to Roald Amundsen’s assertion more than a quarter of a century later, Cook’s account creates the impression of no concerted attempt to amass a stock of seal meat….

p. 60: Physicist William Shackleton to whom Scott “had delegated the collection of books for the expedition (see Clement Markham’s Diary April 25 1901). In July William Shackleton was disqualified from the expedition because of teeth problems.

p. 149: Midsummer Day celebrations (June 23, 102) included “the play, Ticket of Leave, in which Wild played the leading man with Buckridge and Gilbert Scott as the ladies, was presented to loud applause on the stage Duncan had built in the main hut.”

p. 159: “Fortunately, Wilson had taken notes on sledge loads from Nansen’s Farthest North, one of the books Scott found missing from the expedition library [see Voyage of Discovery, Vol. I. p. 306]. It is inconceivable that Markham, an admirer of Nansen, had not suggested the book to William Shackleton when he had called on him for advice, and yet somehow the book had not been obtained. Fortunately, the purchases and gifts had included Drygalski’s and Nansen’s books on their exploits in Greenland.”

p. 167: After a sledging journey “Wilson reexamined the six men again the next afternoon, having read everything he could on the subject of scurvy.”

p. 262: On Scott’s late 1903 western sledge journey occurred what Skelton called “one of the worst losses we could have had.” On the depot trip they had failed to fasten properly the lid of the instrument box, and winds blasting down the upper glacier had ripped it open. The Hints to Travellers volume was gone. Published by the RGS for explorers, it contained the data needed to work out latitude, and above all longitude from sun sights. As Mulock would for Barnes party, Scott was relying on the tables to calculate how far they had traveled.