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Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910-13 Hardcover – September 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—A recounting of the fatal Antarctic exploration led by Englishman Robert Falcon Scott. The story is told from the point of view of journeyman Apsley Cherry-Garrard and is based on his experiences as recorded in The Worst Journey in the World. The author incorporates numerous primary sources, including diaries, letters, and black-and-white reproductions and archival photographs that aid in capturing Garrard's mindset and that of the other members of the expedition. The goal of the trip was to find the South Pole, with an offshoot expedition to collect samples of the fabled Emperor penguin's eggs. Though dialogue was obviously re-created, and some assumptions are made regarding the thoughts and feelings of crew members, Farr's writing is engrossing and his accounts of the hardships and near-death experiences the explorers faced are harrowing. The accompanying maps, photographs, and drawings complement the text, though some of them break it up at odd intervals. This title will appeal to readers looking for an adventure story and to history buffs.—Kelly McGorray, Glenbard South High School Library, Glen Ellyn, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This review refers to the Hardcover edition

From Booklist

“After the storm, we enjoyed several days in which the weather was merely horrible.” Farr writes in the voice of Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a participant in Robert Scott’s ill-fated second Antarctic expedition, which he casts as an inspiring tale of men battling overwhelmingly brutal elements with experimental gear, high spirits, and indomitable courage. The expedition was actually a scientific one, with the push to the South Pole as much a public relations gambit as a main purpose. Cherry, as he was known, self-effacingly describes his own role as part of a three-man side trip to collect penguin eggs—a trip that, like so many early ventures to the Antarctic, became a desperate struggle just to survive. Based on Cherry’s own memoirs and extensive research, this deceptively light-toned account makes compelling reading and is well supplied with contemporary photos, maps, an annotated source list, and other helpful extras. Despite its fictive voice, it makes an authoritative replacement for older titles on the expedition, meriting a place next to Bredeson’s After the Last Dog Died (2003), Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World (1998), and other Antarctic annals. Grades 6-9. --John Peters
This review refers to the Hardcover edition
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 12
  • Lexile Measure: 1050L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374319758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374319755
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,230,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in England's West Country, one of the world's leading producers of strange names for small villages. I now live in Seattle. When I'm not reading, writing, or staring out of the window, I enjoy running, hiking and sea kayaking.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fiona Jackson on October 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my 13 year old son. He hasn't had a chance to read it yet. My husband finished it first, followed by me. It is a fascinating true adventure that reads like a novel. Don't start reading late at night if you want to get any sleep. This is a super book for anyone interested in history, exploration, adventure, or for anybody who enjoys a well written book on any subject. (That would be me.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Children's Librarian on April 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
So you think this winter has been cold and snowy? Try sleeping out in a tent in -77º F temperatures, which is what Apsley Cherry-Garrard did on his trip to Antartica in 1910. At only 23 years old, Cherry was chosen to join Captain Robert F. Scott's expedition to Antartica to carry out scientific experiments, and hopefully plant the British flag at the South Pole. He was given the title of assistant zoologist, and one of his missions was to collect the eggs of the emperor penguin for study. During the entire three year expedition, Cherry and the rest of Scott's men experienced a fierce storm that almost capsized their ship, painful frostbite, killer whale attacks, plunges into crevasses the size of cathedrals and, tragically, the deaths of five of the men. This is a true story, but since the author writes in the first person using Cherry's voice, it is actually a work of fiction. The author researched for the book by reading Cherry's first person account of the expedition titled The Worst Journey in the World, and also many of the personal diaries that the other men kept. So even though this book is fiction, it reads like a non-fiction book, complete with amazing photographs and footnotes. If you like exciting adventure and survival stories, this is the book for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alex on October 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a great read! I bought it for myself, but after finishing it, started reading it to my 10 year old son. He can't get enough of it. It's so great when literature such as this is able to capture the mind and imaginiation of adults and kids alike. Quite a testament to the author. I strongly recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Griffith on January 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read many books on the exploration of the Arctic & Antartica. This one is very well written & the author made you "know" the people so well & so soon. I saw that this is his first book & he has something to be very proud of. Also Mr. Farr should write more books that appeal to young people & adults alike. What an excellent book!
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By Ma Mellen on October 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book more than I expects to, but I was excited to learn about the geography of the antarctic area as described by Cherry.
Although I believe Scott made many mistakes in planning and executing this trip, the two most egregious to me are: paying money for sledges versus dogs, when their wasn't that much information on pledges, especially used in extreme temperatures; and allowing his friend, Bill, take a scientific excursion into extremely dangerous territory to get samples of embryos.

On the excursion to seek eggs, men experienced unnecessary danger, exhaustion, mental strain and injuries. Had the team stayed intact, even when the pledges failed, the men could have taken turns with the manual labor, or banded together to make shorter work of it - exposing the entire team to less of the elements.

Regarding the purchase and use of sledges; I am sure the idea of "vehicles" capable of hauling large amounts of supplies, equipment, etc. sounded like too good to pass up; but pass them up he should have.

I believe the two mistakes I consider Scott made, cost him the lives of good men, himself not withstanding.

All in all, a very good read, with insight as to the decision making of a leader under very difficult circumstances, and the camaraderie that exists between teammates also under these circumstances.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this to be educational and entertaining reading which is something I love doing. This has made my old body appreciate the warmth that I have to live with. In the year 2000 I had stage 3 cancer and lived in Southern California, I did not get warm for two years after the chemotherapy. I slept in sweats and under a down comforter along with a pile of blankets on top, my teeth still chartered. Reading this book makes me feel as if maybe I was warm. You were able to take me with Scott's expedition. There is so much to see and live through in this world, so many never get there, except in books that we get to read. Thank you.
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Format: Hardcover
I usually read an hour or so before going to bed. That was a mistake with this book. It was so gripping, I kept reading on and on, not feeling like there was a good stopping point. The author does a great job in reeling you into the story and feeling the dangers and bravery of these explorer's who braved minus 20 degrees to minus 90 degree weather with 1910 equipment. It's a story about how believing in yourself, the loyalty and fellowship of the skilled men you surround yourself with, and the shear will to know you will see another day is a requirement for survival.
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By Gino Lee on January 24, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
terrific and riveting tale of a side trip to study the emperor penguins. i felt like i was actually there, getting frostbite, being unable to sleep at night because of the extreme cold, and suddenly realizing that disaster is iminent because a crucial camping gear has just been lost.

brilliant and a real page turner. also, i had vaguely heard of the explorer robert scott. but now, from this story, i can see what kind of person he must have been in real life -- direct, honest, brave, compassionate.
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