Cautionary Stories – Race to the South Pole: David and Goliath on Ice

1910: Two men compete against each other to be the first to reach the South Pole. Captain Robert Falcon Scott leads a well-funded, technologically advanced expedition, aiming to reach the pole in the “correct” and heroic way on foot. Roald Amundsen’s efforts are more modest, relying on cheap sled dogs to lead him to victory.

Scott—for all his money, for all his fancy equipment, for all his institutional backing—is doomed to failure in the icy wastes of Antarctica. Why?

Cautionary Tales is written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It is produced by Ryan Dilly with support from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.

Sound design and original music by Pascal Weiss. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Thanks to the Pushkin Industries team, including Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fein, John Schnaars, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Danielle Lahan and Maya Koenig.

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Further reading and listening

Stephen Bone The last viking

David Crane Scott from Antarctica

Apsley Cherry-Garrard Worst trip in the world

Malcolm Gladwell David and Goliath

Ranulph Fiennes Captain Scott

Roland Huntford The Last Place on Earth

Edward Larson Ice Empire

Diana Preston first class tragedy

Robert Scott Journey of Discovery

Jonathan Karpoff “Public and private initiative in the development of the Arctic” Journal of Political Economy 2001, volume 109.