Barone, Rebecca E. F.

Race to the Bottom of the Earth: Surviving Antarctica

(2) 4-6 "At the bottom of the world, death comes more naturally than life." Barone presents four expeditions--two races--to face down death in the coldest region on Earth. In 1911, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen competed to be the first to reach the South Pole. In 2018, Lou Rudd and Colin O'Brady raced to make the "first solo, unaided, unsupported crossing of Antarctica" (as Rudd said: "More people have walked on the moon [twenty] than have traversed Antarctica"). Different people, different times, common deadly obstacles: cold, blizzards, whiteouts, crevasses, mountains, starvation. Barone's complex narrative is well structured, with action verbs and frequent short, rhythmic sentences ("He was strong. He was capable. He kept moving") leading the way. Though Barone repeats information occasionally (e.g., the renaming of the Ross Ice Shelf), meticulous details of trip-planning never slow the pace, and, as in any great adventure tale, foreshadowing, cliffhangers, and dabs of gory details ("Two of the men were so frostbitten that their entire heels fell off--dead and rotting--in their boots") are used to good advantage. Maps, black-and-white photographs, personal accounts, and Instagram posts support the lively text. An epilogue explores the controversies over both expeditions, including whether or not the 2018 race could really be called "unaided and unsupported." Back matter includes a substantial bibliography, endnotes, and an index (unseen).


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