Cautionary Tales – South Pole Race: David and Goliath on Ice

15th July, 2022

1910: Two men are racing one another to be the first to reach the South Pole. Captain Robert Falcon Scott heads a well-financed, technologically-advanced expedition – aiming to reach the pole in the “proper” and heroic way… on foot. Roald Amundsen’s effort is more modest, relying on cheap sled dogs to carry him to victory.

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

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

The sound design and original music is the work of Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Thanks to the team at Pushkin Industries, including Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fain, Jon Schnaars, Carly Migliori, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Daniella Lakhan and Maya Koenig.

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Further reading and listening

Stephen Bown The Last Viking

David Crane Scott of the Antarctic

Apsley Cherry-Garrard The Worst Journey in the World

Malcolm Gladwell David and Goliath

Ranulph Fiennes Captain Scott

Roland Huntford The Last Place on Earth

Edward Larson An Empire of Ice

Diana Preston A First Rate Tragedy

Robert Scott The Voyage of the Discovery

Jonathan Karpoff “Public versus Private Initiative in Arctic Exploration” Journal of Political Economy 2001 vol 109

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