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Testing the Spirit at the South Pole

July 29, 2001

Robert Lee Hotz's article ("Journey to the Last Place on Earth," July 8) made absorbing reading. I'm surprised that with all of his experience, he wrote apropos of the race for the South Pole: "The disheartened British team died on the homeward trek, overcome by some unknowable combination of dehydration, malnutrition, bad weather and disappointment."

There was nothing "unknowable" about the British expedition's failure to reach the Pole before Roald Amundsen's much better organized and prepared Norwegian team. Robert Falcon Scott was a neurotic British navy martinet who knew nothing about polar exploration and chose not to learn anything. Spurred by the peculiar British penchant of that era for unnecessary self-sacrifice in quest of "glory" and his own arrogance and ignorance, Scott was an erratic leader whose mistakes cost the lives of brave men who trusted him.

S. Meric

Santa Monica

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