South with the Sun: Roald Amundsen, His Polar Explorations, and the Quest for Discovery

Lynne Cox. Knopf, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-3075-9340-5
As a teenager, Cox (Swimming to Antarctica) was enamored with Norwegian explorer Amundsen (1872–1928), the first to lay claim on the South Pole. Aside from chronicling Amundsen's frosty adventures, Cox details her efforts to swim in the waters off Antarctic and Greenland—in the very icy waters where Amundsen sailed. An ambitious mélange of biography, memoir, and journalism, Cox's work covers too wide a terrain, feeling choppy and abrupt, conditions not aided by her flavorless writing and poor organization. As a memoirist, Cox fails to establish a personal connection to her aquatic quest and doesn't define her historical inspiration. As a reporter, she seems more concerned with celebrating her friendships and networking abilities than in uncovering information, an annoying tactic that will leave readers wondering who the book is really about. Overlooked and underreported, Amundsen—he was also the first to sail through the Northwest Passage—is relegated to being the nebulous center in a book that is hopelessly adrift from the opening pages. 62 photos; 3 maps. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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