(Image shows the cover of the book which is a picture of Roald Amundsen. Photo credit: Aurum Press)
In the early twentieth century, many of the great geographical mysteries that had intrigued adventurers for centuries remained unsolved; leaving unexplored blank areas on otherwise increasingly detailed global maps.
Whereas Tibet, African and the Amazon had been repeatedly visited, the Northwest Passage, the South Pole and the North Pole, had not yet been conquered.
Yet one man would claim all these prizes within a twenty-year span.
One hundred years have passed since Robert Falcon Scott’s beleaguered expeditionary team arrived at the South Pole, only to find that they had been beaten by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.
The most feted explorer of his generation, Amundsen counted the discovery of the Northwest Passage, in 1905, as well as the North Pole amongst his greatest achievements.
In the golden age of polar exploration Amundsen, whose revolutionary approach to technology transcends polar and nautical significance, was a titan among men.
However, until now, his story has rarely featured as more than a footnote to Scott’s tragic failure.
Reviled for defeating Scott but worshipped by his men, Amundsen was pursued by women and creditors throughout his life before disappearing on a rescue mission for the Italian Fascist who had set off in an airship to claim the North Pole for Mussolini.
Amundsen was a skilful publicity seeker.
To fund his exploits, he made the rounds of the lecture circuit telling hair-raising tales of his death-defying adventures.
The press referred to him as “the last of the Vikings”.
The Last Viking: the life of Roald Amundsen written by Stephen Bown is the story of the life of a visionary and a showman, who brought the era of Shackleton to an end, put the newly independent Norway on the map and was the twentieth century’s brightest trailblazing explorer.
Against the backdrop of the race to conquer the most inhospitable corners of the earth, The Last Viking is packed with tales of heroism and hardship.
It is a mesmerising story of courage, misery, friendship and the ultimate price paid for immortality.
Further details of The Last Viking: the life of Roald Amundsen can be found on the main catalogue, available in ‘Catalogues’ on the Library’s website.