The race to the South Pole rages on in the history books

Historians in the News

On Dec. 14, 1911, a five-man Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen became the first explorers to reach the South Pole. Another five-man expedition reached the pole just 34 days later, this time a led by British Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

But a century later, both teams still seem to be competing against one another....

Initially, Scott was seen as a tragic hero, particularly in Britain and other English-speaking countries. Many observers outside Scandinavia regarded Amundsen — who had secretly changed his destination from the North to the South Pole — as a usurper who had unsportingly jumped in on Scott's long-planned mission.

Shifting reputations
Then in 1979, a book by Roland Huntford, a British journalist with long experience in Scandinavia, painted an entirely different picture. In "Scott and Amundsen," Huntford portrayed Scott as an incompetent martinet and Amundsen as a perfect team leader who serenely achieved results....

Recently, views have begun to change again.

Some historians point to the two ventures' contrasting goals. While Amundsen sought only the pole, they say, Scott's expedition included several prominent scientists who carried out significant research in other parts of Antarctica as the five-man team undertook its polar journey....

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