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Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard (Modern Library Paperbacks) Kindle Edition

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Length: 384 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sara Wheeler, author of the acclaimed Terra Incognita, became fascinated with Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard after reading The Worst Journey in the World, his classic account of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole, of which he was a survivor. "His book was not the disembodied account of an expedition: it was an intimate reflection of the man behind the authorial mask. I wanted a glimpse of that man," she writes. What she offers is much more than a glimpse; Cherry is a fascinating and detailed look at this complicated and often troubled hero.

A man of substantial means and a strong sense of duty, Cherry "recoiled from the sedate life of the country squire," throwing himself into strenuous adventures whenever he was not crippled by episodes of severe depression which haunted him his entire life. After returning from the pole, he traveled to eastern China as part of a zoological expedition and then served Britain in World War I before writing The Worst Journey in the World, which National Geographic has called the greatest adventure book of all time. Wheeler covers not only his many adventures, but the inner workings of the man, such as his bouts with mental illness, including delusional phases, hypochondria, and severe anxiety, all of which affected his physical health as well. She also covers his often complex relationships, including his close friendship with George Bernard Shaw, who certainly influenced Cherry's writing. Written with the cooperation of Cherry's widow and full access to his papers and notes, this is the first authorized biography of this extraordinary man. --Shawn Carkonen

From Publishers Weekly

In a richly detailed and lyrical biography, Wheeler (Terra Incognito) traces the life of British adventurer Apsley Cherry-Garrard from his time as "a small boy with a lively imagination and a taste for snails and solitude" to his participation in Robert Scott's fateful 1911 expedition to reach the South Pole. While many have questioned and even vilified the members of Scott's voyage for everything from naivete to outright blundering, Wheeler takes a sympathetic, even reverent attitude toward her subject. Cherry-Garrard unfolds as a complicated figure whose youthful quest for adventure enmeshed him in an undertaking that towered over the rest of his life. While it would be hard for any historical account to rival Cherry-Garrard's own descriptions in his memoir The Worst Journey in the World, Wheeler tells the story of the entire voyage, whereas Cherry-Garrard focused on only one part of it. Though she quotes often from his book, the passages are complemented and occasionally contradicted by the journals of other members of the trip. In this way, Wheeler supplies the little facts that truly make her story vivid, like one explorer almost being killed by a 500-pound crate of hams propelled by a blizzard wind or another suggesting a can opener to cut through Cherry-Garrard's frozen clothes. Eloquent and gripping, Wheeler goes on to chronicle Cherry-Garrard's troubled homecoming and how, through writing his book and finding love late in life, the explorer made his ultimate discovery redemption.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2476 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (December 18, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 18, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUDGCQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #652,728 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on June 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Apsley Cherry-Garrard appears to have been an almost stereotypic member of the British landed gentry of the Edwardian era-affable, proud, wealthy and somewhat aimless-until he talked his way onto Robert Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition. After two years suffering in Antarctica, Cherry returned to his estate in broken health facing an essentially undistinguished future managing his wealth.
But he did not disappear, as you might expect-instead he turned out the memoir "The Worst Journey in the World," often acclaimed as the greatest adventure memoir of all time.
Ironically, Cherry's life might at first have seemed an almost featureless existence, punctuated two remarkable events-a life-threatening adventure and a best-selling book. But author Sara Wheeler does a remarkable job bringing her subject to life both as a sympathetic individual and as a kind of symbol of his era. The quality of her scholarship is really excellent - she has left no paper relating to Cherry unturned, and documents her sources in an unobtrusive but comprehensive set of notes after the text, leaving the powerful narrative flow of the main text uninterrupted.
It's a very exciting book; I would have offered 5 stars but the narrative does frankly slow down a lot after "Worst Journey" gets published; and in any case I think time might be equally well spent on Cherry's own book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By FrancesM on April 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had heard some time ago that Wheeler was working on a biography of 'Cherry'. I was particularly interested because her 'Terra Incognita' is one of my favorite books about Antarctica. She is an excellent writer and did a good job there of inter-weaving her own experiences with some history of exploration in the area.
Once again, I'm impressed with her writing ability. And, she does an excellent job giving us some insight into this conflicted, interesting man. I found the section on the publicity following their return to New Zealand fascinating. I knew that Cherry-Garrard castigated himself, for the rest of his life, about not having gone against orders by proceeding farther than One Ton Depot to look for the returning party. But, I had no idea how negative some of the comments/publicity were at that time. Those accounts gave me a better insight into how difficult it would have been not to be self-critical--even for someone who did not have those tendencies--as Cherry-Garrard certainly did.
Wheeler also includes comments from others' diaries that I had not heard before. It is impossible to sort out everything now, so long after actual events, but there is a lot of 'grist' for the mill here. The accounts about Teddy Evans are interesting--more negative than I expected.
I respect Wheeler's abilities as a researcher but I do keep in mind that no account can be entirely accurate now, looking back through the lens of time. And, on a wonderful trip to the Peninsula a few years ago, I heard an 'expert' sniff that Wheeler was not entirely up to snuff in terms of accuracy. This comment doesn't make me extremely doubtful about her findings, however, since she certainly convinces me when I take the 'whole' of her books.
If you're interested in Antarctic exploration, Scott's last trip, or a piercing account of a gentleman of his time, get the book--you won't be disappointed.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on May 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Sara Wheeler in Cherry (A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard) has provided a wonderful service to those avid, hungry readers of Antarctic adventures. The author has filled in the life of one of the important personalities from the herioc age of arctic exploration in such a way as to deepen the understanding of the men how took this challenge, particularly both before and after the adventure of their lives. Cherry, of course, wrote the classic and indispensible, The Worst Journey in the World, the finest book written by an actual explorer himselfself. He is the perfect subject and his life makes for an exciting and interesting read. Sara Wheeler has written a wonderful book that touches on many important events in the life of the early twentienth century and the passing (sadly for Cherry) of the Victorian Age. It is an enjoyable book that equals or surpasses many of the books in the past couple of decades looking solely at the Antartic adventure. Read it. Enjoy it.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By RogerV on April 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Apsley Cherry-Garrard's "Worst Journey in the World" remains a polar classic, still in print 80 years after it first appeared. If you're like me, you can't help but wonder what happened to "Cherry" after it was published. Wheeler's biography not only tells you, it also tells you of his life before he went south with Captain Scott.
Cherry was a complex man who struggled with his personal demons for most of his life. Wheeler presents his story with compassion and objectivity, and my only objection is that she is not nearly hard enough on Captain Scott. Scott and his companions did not die because of Cherry's failure to rescue them; they died because of Scott's bungling.
If you're interested in the history of Antarctic exploration, "Cherry" is a must-read. However, be prepared for the fact that some of it is a bit less than cheerful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Apsley Cherry-Garrard wrote "The Worst Journey in the World." This is the classic book of Antarctic exploration and a must read for anyone interested in that subject. Sara Wheeler brought to life the story of Apsley Cherry-Garrard from his boyhood as a spoiled well to do son of a retired British General who went to the best schools, studied the classics, and through a huge donation to the effort got himself assigned to Robert F. Scott's Antarctic expedition to be the first to reach the South Pole. From a young 24 year old with no real skills Garrard managed to become one of the most valuable members of Scott's expedition. A fascinating story.
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