The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen (Hardcover)
The Last Viking unravels the life of the man who stands head and shoulders above all those who raced to map the last corners of the world. In 1900, the four great geographical mysteries the Northwest Passage, the Northeast Passage, the South Pole, and the North Pole remained blank spots on the globe. Within twenty years Roald Amundsen would claim all four prizes. Renowned for his determination and technical skills, both feared and beloved by his men, Amundsen is a legend of the heroic age of exploration, which shortly thereafter would be tamed by technology, commerce, and publicity. Feted in his lifetime as an international celebrity, pursued by women and creditors, he died in the Arctic on a rescue mission for an inept rival explorer.
Stephen R. Bown has unearthed archival material to give Amundsen's life the grim immediacy of Apsley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World, the exciting detail of The Endurance, and the suspense of a Jon Krakauer tale. The Last Viking is both a thrilling literary biography and a cracking good story.
About the Author
Stephen R. Bown is the author ofScurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner and A Gentleman Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail, selected as one of the Globe and Mail's Top 100 books of 2004, and A Most Damnable Invention: Dynamite, Nitrates and the Making of the Modern World, selected for the Scientific American Book Club, the History Book Club and the Quality Paperback Book Club. He lives with his wife and two young children near Banff in the Canadian Rockies.www.stephenrbown.net
Kirkus Reviews (starred), 8/15/12“An intensely researched, thoroughly enjoyable life of one history’s best explorers…A superb biography of a fiercely driven explorer who traveled across the last inaccessible areas on earth before technical advances made the journey much easier.”
Booklist, September 2012“[An] enjoyable, informative biography.”
Publishers Weekly, 8/27/12“[A] captivating account of the Norwegian’s extraordinary life…Bown makes a compelling case that Amundsen deserves renewed recognition for his outstanding achievements.”
London Sunday Times 9/16/12“[A] fascinating biography…As a depiction of an explorer’s life it is intelligent and often thrilling.”
Boston Globe, 9/30/12“Author Stephen Bown hopes to repair Amundsen’s reputation and re-introduce his achievements to readers at a time when exploration on a grand geographic scale seems like ancient history. He succeeds; his Amundsen is complicated and compelling, capable of leading men through deadly danger and telling self-deprecating stories to rapturous lecture audiences later…The New York Times published hundreds of articles chronicling his voyages, and Bown gracefully weaves together these and other journalistic records, along with journals kept by Amundsen and his men, to paint a surprisingly intimate portrait of a complex, at times difficult, yet eminently admirable man.”
Denver Post, 9/30/12“A deep, spine-chilling look at the life of Roald Amundsen, Norwegian polar explorer.”
Tucson Citizen, 10/4/12“An outstanding biography of a focused, determined man…Bown has served up a crisply written book that is exciting, meticulously researched, and an appropriate literary tribute to one of history’s greatest explorers.”
Bookviews blog, October 2012“The story of a man who accomplished in two decades when other explorers of his day couldn’t do in a lifetime…The world needs heroes like Amundsen, warts and all.”
WomanAroundTown.com,9/27/12“Details both the good and the bad about his extraordinary man.”