The Last Viking

The Life of Roald Amundsen
Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (294 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Last Viking unravels the life of the man who stands head and shoulders above all those who raced to map the last corners of the world. In 1900, the four great geographical mysteries - the Northwest Passage, the Northeast Passage, the South Pole, and the North Pole - remained blank spots on the globe. Within twenty years Roald Amundsen would claim all four prizes. Renowned for his determination and technical skills, both feared and beloved by his men, Amundsen is a legend of the heroic age of exploration, which shortly thereafter would be tamed by technology, commerce, and publicity. Fted in his lifetime as an international celebrity, pursued by women and creditors, he died in the Arctic on a rescue mission for an inept rival explorer.Stephen R. Bown has unearthed archival material to give Amundsen’s life the grim immediacy of Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, the exciting detail of The Endurance, and the suspense of a Jon Krakauer tale. The Last Viking is both a thrilling literary biography and a cracking good story.

©2012 Stephen R. Bown (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding.

Any additional comments?

Roald Amundsen was the greatest explorer of his time and, his biographer convincingly argues, possibly of any time. Best remembered as the discoverer of the South Pole, he was also the first person to study the magnetic North Pole, the first to sail the Northwest Passage, the first person to reach the North Pole, the first to use airplanes and airships in arctic exploration, and more. At times the most famous person in the world, the book uses Amundsen's fame as a venue for studying celebrity culture and the way celebrity itself becomes a career: book tours, paid speeches, taking tactical mutual advantage of the press, fundraising. "The Last Viking" also delves into the relationship between exploration and nationalism, and in discussing Amundsen's famous "race to the pole" with Scott (which wasn't a race at all), points out that Amundsen succeeded partly because of his admiration for and willingness to learn from native arctic cultures like the Inuit, while Scott, as an English gentleman, thought he could learn nothing from native peoples. Scott died in Antarctica because of his poor planning, but also, the author argues, because he carried the weight of the British Empire on his shoulders. Named by many organizations as one of the best books of 2012, “The Last Viking” is deeply researched, thoughtful, informative, entertaining, and often exciting. It is an outstanding biography.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A little dull

Any additional comments?

Roald Amundsen was an interesting fellow. He successfully led the first exposition to the South Pole and was the first explorer to make it, by way of airplane, to the North Pole. I enjoyed the dramatic accounts of those expeditions, however lots of this book surrounds the rather boring details of Amundsen's life. Definitely an interesting listen, just not my favorite. Also, the audio wasn't quite as clear as most other titles.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fascinating man

Would you consider the audio edition of The Last Viking to be better than the print version?

Audio is the only version of this book I've experienced.

What other book might you compare The Last Viking to and why?

Searching my mind for a comparison, the only things I come up with are fiction.

What does Stephen Hoye bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His lovely, strong voice.

Any additional comments?

After the first evening I spent listening to this book, I went to YouTube and watched everything I could find about Roald Amundsen. That led to searches on Scott and Perrie, and of course, Shackelton - whose story I already knew. IMHO, Amundsen and Shackelton are a breed apart.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A good book, but only a middling performance.

I am surprised this book is getting such rave reviews. Yes, Amundsen did some amazing things, and that is probably what people are cheering about. But other books I have read about Arctic explorers such as Scott, Shackelton, and Franklin seemed more captivating, seeming to provide more details, and perhaps focused more on a single expedition. Part of the problem may be the quality of the source material. Though Amundsen wrote about his own adventures, he was also secretive, leaving out some details about his personal life. He was also not a scientist, so he did not describe his expeditions quite the way a scientist might.

Because of the vast scope of this book, covering Amundsen's entire life, and several expeditions, it necessarily glosses over many details. The writing is a serviceable prose, and easily accessible, but rarely enlivened by the turn of a phrase or the kind of near-poetry that might befit Amundsen's adventures.

The story begins with the end, briefly describing Amundsen's final doomed voyage in search of a lost fellow adventurer. The book returns to this episode at the end of the book, providing more details. But this convoluted begin-at-the-end approach seems unnecessary and potentially confusing to some listeners.

But my biggest gripe is with the narration, which is done with a kind of sing-song monotone. Yes, it is tolerable, and serviceable, but not great or memorable. There is no real attempt to distinguish the many characters that are quoted throughout the book with accents and vocal variations that you might find in some other books.

Overall, it is a good book, but only a middling performance.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good book

covers his life in a broad scope highlighting important events and details. if you want a more in depth on his discoveries the book references many other works you can read to get more information.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Enjoy and learn

If you are a fan of polar exploration . Listen !! This book is what you want.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

More emotion, but still a good listen

The narrator could use a little more emotion while reading, but still a very enjoyable and interesting listen. I would and have recommended this book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An Interesting Biography

Where does The Last Viking rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the better biographies I've listened to, but I think if I had maps or diagrams, I would have a better picture of what was going on.

What did you like best about this story?

The details the author was able to get into.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narrator did a decent job, but his style of narration made some of the elements feel flat

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Braving the Frozen Worlds.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable and worth the listen

Multiple adventure stories in one book! I enjoyed how it covers not just the race for the south pole but all his accomplishments as well as failures. I also find it interesting how he is viewed in much different light today (at least in the English speaking world) than he was at the time of his major achievements. He is not the villain or protagonist that many reporters of his time made him out to be especially when compared to Robert Falcon Scott.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting history, stilted performance

The book is well written and interesting but I particularly disliked the stiff vocal style of the reader. It sounded more like AI than a human reader.