Cautionary Stories – Race at the South Pole: “Mom, is Amundsen a good person?”

Roald Amundsen defeated Captain Scott at the South Pole. The Norwegian, using dog sleds and skis, made it easy…even fun. He was heading home to safety, while the British group, pulling the sled by hand, got out onto the ice.

In this case, the winner got a damaged reputation. The British grumbled that Amundsen had somehow cheated, or at least acted on the sly. These scathing accusations will haunt the adventurer until the day he dies in the polar wastes.

Caveats was written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It was 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 Bowen 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

“Captain Roald Amundsen and Society” Geographic magazine December 1927