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South with the Sun: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discoveryby Lynne Cox
Synopses & Reviews
Roald Amundsen, “the last of the Vikings,” left his mark on the Heroic Era as one of the most successful polar explorers ever.
A powerfully built man more than six feet tall, Amundsens career of adventure began at the age of fifteen (he was born in Norway in 1872 to a family of merchant sea captains and rich ship owners); twenty-five years later he was the first man to reach both the North and South Poles.
Lynne Cox, adventurer and swimmer, author of Swimming to Antarctica (“gripping” —Sports Illustrated) and Grayson (“wondrous, and unforgettable” —Carl Hiaasen), gives us in South with the Sun a full-scale account of the explorers life and expeditions.
We see Amundsen, in 1903-06, the first to travel the Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in his small ship Gjøa, a seventy-foot refitted former herring boat powered by sails and a thirteen-horsepower engine, making his way through the entire length of the treacherous ice bound route, between the northern Canadian mainland and Canadas Arctic islands, from Greenland across Baffin Bay, between the Canadian islands, across the top of Alaska into the Bering Strait. The dangerous journey took three years to complete, as Amundsen, his crew, and six sled dogs waited while the frozen sea around them thawed sufficiently to allow for navigation.
We see him journey toward the North Pole in Fridtjof Nansens famous Fram, until word reached his expedition party of Robert Pearys successful arrival at the North Pole. Amundsen then set out on a secret expedition to the Antarctic, and we follow him through his heroic capture of the South Pole.
Cox makes clear why Amundsen succeeded in his quests where other adventurer-explorers failed, and how his methodical preparation and willingness to take calculated risks revealed both the spirit of the man and the way to complete one triumphant journey after another.
Crucial to Amundsens success in reaching the South Pole was his use of carefully selected sled dogs. Amundsens canine crew members—he called them “our children”—had been superbly equipped by centuries of natural selection for survival in the Arctic. “The dogs,” he wrote, “are the most important thing for us. The whole outcome of the expedition depends on them.” On December 14, 1911, Roald Amundsen and four others, 102 days and more than 1,880 miles later, stood at the South Pole, a full month before Robert Scott.
Lynne Cox describes reading about Amundsen as a young girl and how because of his exploits was inspired to follow her dreams. We see how she unwittingly set out in Amundsens path, swimming in open waters off Antarctica, then Greenland (always without a wetsuit), first as a challenge to her own abilities and then later as a way to understand Amundsens life and the lessons learned from his vision, imagination, and daring.
South with the Sun—inspiring, wondrous, and true—is a bold adventure story of bold ambitious dreams.
"As a teenager, Cox (Swimming to Antarctica) was enamored with Norwegian explorer Amundsen (1872 — 1928), the first to lay claim on the South Pole. Aside from chronicling Amundsen's frosty adventures, Cox details her efforts to swim in the waters off Antarctic and Greenland — in the very icy waters where Amundsen sailed. An ambitious mÃ©lange of biography, memoir, and journalism, Cox's work covers too wide a terrain, feeling choppy and abrupt, conditions not aided by her flavorless writing and poor organization. As a memoirist, Cox fails to establish a personal connection to her aquatic quest and doesn't define her historical inspiration. As a reporter, she seems more concerned with celebrating her friendships and networking abilities than in uncovering information, an annoying tactic that will leave readers wondering who the book is really about. Overlooked and underreported, Amundsen — he was also the first to sail through the Northwest Passage — is relegated to being the nebulous center in a book that is hopelessly adrift from the opening pages. 62 photos; 3 maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the admired adventure writer Lynne Cox, author of the best-selling Swimming to Antarctica (“thrilling”—Oliver Sacks) and Grayson (“moving and memorable”—John Grogan), a biography of one of the greatest of all polar explorers, Roald Amundsen.
Cox writes about his explorations—he was the first to sail through Canada’s Northwest Passage; then to the Antarctic and the capture of the South Pole, arriving there a month before Scott. She writes about what allowed Amundsen to succeed where others failed: his methodical preparation, his willingness to take calculated risks, his first-rate crew and sled dogs.
Cox writes that she had read of Amundsen as a girl and was inspired to follow her dreams of open-water swimming. She realized she was swimming in his wake, and eventually began to swim in waters off Antarctica and then Greenland (without a wet suit!), first as a challenge to her own abilities and then as a way to understand the explorer’s life.
An inspiring adventure story of bold, wondrous dreams.
About the Author
Lynne Cox has set records all over the world for open-water swimming. She was named a Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year, inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and honored with a lifetime achievement award from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Swimming to Antarctica and Grayson and lives in Los Alamitos, California.
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