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Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure Paperback – Aug 8 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (Aug. 8 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559634634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559634632
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #283,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This reissue of Byrd's account of a grueling five-month stay at the South Pole in 1934 includes original illustrations by Richard Harrison.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this 1938 volume, the great explorer recounts four months he spent alone gathering scientific data in a shack in Antarctica. The result is a remarkable story of survival and adventure. This facsimile edition is published in a blue typeface.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure is the story of famed explorer Richard Byrd's famous (or infamous) solitary sojourn at the bottom of the world - ably, if somewhat reluctantly, told by Byrd himself. It is not a tell of adventure so much as survival, as the peaceful and scientific adventure Byrd had anticipated all too quickly became a months-long fight for survival in the most inhospitable of places. Only a small shack with dangerously faulty ventilation stood between Byrd and the elements during the continually dark days of the winter of 1934. The temperature routinely hit 60 degrees below zero and rarely wandered upwards of twenty below, as Byrd - laid low by carbon monoxide poisoning - fought a daily battle to survive a situation that would have killed almost any other man.

Over the years, much has been made of Admiral Byrd's decision to singly man a small meteorological station far south of the main Antarctic base of Little America on the Ross Ice Shelf. Byrd first envisioned a three-man crew (he thought two men stuck together that long would end up killing each other during the long winter months without a third person present to break the monotony), but it seems pretty clear from this account that he yearned to do the job alone. Certainly, there is something to be said for the perfect peace and introspection he expected to find there, but it seems equally clear that Byrd, having already achieved great fame with past adventures at the North and South Poles, sought the attention and acclaim that would come with this mission. Whatever his reasons, however, it was unarguably a most daring and brave decision - as if the living conditions were not difficult enough, he knew that no help would be forthcoming if something went wrong.
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Format: Paperback
How low can it go.
That's the key question about the thermometer - an average of about -60 degrees - and Admiral Richard Byrd's mental state as he struggled to survive when he was, by choice, stranded "Alone" near the South Pole in 1934.
It is a rather amazing true tale of physical and psychic endurance. Admiral Byrd planned to set up an "Advance Base" (a weather station in the inland area of Antarctica) that was separated from the rest of his exploration team at Little America by 123 miles. For six months of the Antarctic winter, there would be no way for a rescue team to reach Advance Base.
Almost unbelievably, he decides to man the weather station by himself. The plan had been for three men to operate Advance Base, but he opts to go it alone because some supplies were lost and - the real reason - he wants the spiritual experience of being by himself.
Not a smart idea. Unless you're a bear with a whole lot of white fur, sitting on your duff during a bitter winter at the South Pole is not Club Med, South. As the fantastically frigid, dark and brutal winter sets in, Byrd discovers that it really is cold outside, and inside as well thanks to a faulty furnace that leaks carbon monoxide.
He blames the latter for the deterioration of his mental facilities and becomes all but immobilized by what appears to be, in today's psychobabble, severe clinical depression.
The resulting tale of mind over a continent of murderously icy, windy matter is eloquent and well-told. Admiral Byrd's courage and perseverance is inspiring. But his judgment, which got him into this polar predicament in the first place, is less than zero.
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Format: Paperback
This book has the capacity to fundamentally alter the way one perceives nature and life. However, the most striking aspect of the book was Byrd's view of religion. While religious discussion does not consume a large portion of the text, Byrd's insights into the matter are unique and very interesting, especially to to the freethinking agnostic. Without catering to a particular denomination, his take on religion is a self-reliant, logical, hearty one that somehow manages to be spiritual and graceful at the same time. This is due, in large part, to the fact that so much of this view is based on his admiration and astonishment at the complexities of nature. A truly inspiring piece of work, it can crack chinks into the souls of even hardened skeptics and remind us all that life is a panorama of personal emotional relationships with others that make our own continued survival worthwhile.
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By Tom Lowe on Sept. 21 2000
Format: Paperback
Richard E. Byrd's "ALONE" gets off to a slow start, but as soon as Byrd is left alone, 123 miles from the nearest humans at Little America, during the Antarctic winter, the real drama begins. In 1934, long before science ascertained the real effects of constant darkness on the human psyche, Byrd, in this autobiographical expose, makes it very clear how the lack of sunlight, isolation, and carbon monoxide poisoning can push a man to his utmost mental and physical limits. To top it off, Byrd has a writing style so descriptive and soulful that it makes the reader feel as if he were right there with him as an invisible observer. Anyone who likes to explore the dormant, but always present, dark recesses of the human mind has to read this book. As a result, Byrd unintentionally takes us also on an exploration of the mind, not just the brutal conditions of the Antarctic. Great book.
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