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The Worst Journey in the World (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 28, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039389
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The Worst Journey in the World is to travel writing what War and Peace is to the novel... a masterpiece." —The New York Review of Books

About the Author

 Caroline Alexander has written for The New Yorker, Granta, Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, Outside, and National Geographic and is the author of four previous books.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 29 customer reviews
Once I started this book I could read nothing else.
Jordan M. Poss
For adventure readers and lovers of stories about human beings stretching themselves to the extreme THE WORST JOURNEY IN THE WORLD is a must-read!
Mark McGinty
This book has details of the journeys undertaken in 1910-1912 by the men of this polar expedition.
Fabric Crazy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Jordan M. Poss VINE VOICE on January 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Apsley Cherry-Garrard was only 24 when he set out on Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition. He was the youngest member of the group and, for my money, the best qualified for the later task of writing the complete story. Why? The Worst Journey in the World is an awe-inspiring adventure, told in such a way that you feel the young man's wide-eyed wonder as your own.

Very few novels have gripped and excited me as this book has, and far fewer nonfiction works. Cherry--as his friends called him--writes with a vigor and attention to detail and drama usually reserved for thrillers. The blizzards, storms at sea, killer whale attacks, sub-zero temperatures, and exhausting struggles with sled dogs, ponies, and yawning crevasses are vividly depicted. By the end of the book, you almost feel as though you've been on the journey with him. The "you are there" phenomenon is something I encounter very seldom in a book. This book actually managed to make me cold.

The Worst Journey in the World is not solely devoted to the adventure and the final tragedy of finding Scott and his men frozen to death. Cherry takes time out to comment on the scientific significance of their work in Antarctica, of the need for exploration regardless of immediate results, and, in conclusion, of why Scott's return from the Pole ended so bitterly. These sections of the work put the adventure into perspective, so that not only do you experience the good and bad times with the expedition, you learn what ideals drove them and what was at stake with every piece of bad luck.

The book isn't perfect, of course. Some of the scientific information Cherry relates is, of course, now outdated.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ned K. Wynn on May 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's been more than ten years since I read Cherry-Garrard's account of Scott's journey to Antarctica, but I can still feel the lung-searing cold and hear the hellish, monstrous wind coming out of the center of the continent into which the journey was headed. I have never read of anything more terrible than this expedition including Shackleton's truncated Antarctic nightmare and Lewis and Clark's astonishing and dangerous overland haul from St. Louis to the Pacific.

This particular expedition was one terrible misadventure after another almost from the very start when there is a storm at sea right out of the gate as the ship carrying everyone and everything from Tierra del Fuego is swamped and so much food, materiel, and livestock are lost overboard. From there the bad luck never seems to stop. The very fact that these men continued on under circumstances that would have discouraged and then defeated most human beings is almost past credibility. In particular I remember the constant breaking down of the diesel-engined snow cats, the terrible fate of the Asian ponies, the leopard seals, and the long dark impossible trip that Garrard and one other member of the expedition take in the dead of the Antarctic winter to the Emperor Penguin breeding grounds to retrieve a few precious eggs for science. In winter. In the dark. Wearing 1911 woolen clothes, eating preseved 1911 food, and using 1911 (non-)technology. It took 1911 men to do it. I cannot imagine anyone from our time doing this with that equipment. At times I simply had to stop reading and wonder just how much more hardship human beings could stand. I've never felt so physically uncomfortable, so drained and so worried (as a mere reader!) as I was ploughing through this book which was a feat (the writing of it) in itself.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Muller on April 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
In 1911-1912 the author as a young man was part of the ill fated

Robert Falcon Scott British Expedition to be the "first" at the South Pole. The larger history of that effort's limited success and the stories of the lives lost is a well told as historical fact. Within the book lies the Chapter about the author's effort with two other companions to travel in a winter journey for the purpose of observing Emperor penguins in their nesting rookeries. This is the coldest journey "on record" with howling winds at -70 degrees f under total darkness climbing between open crevasses that were endlessly deep to retrieve a few unhatched eggs for scientific research. Once you've read this author's rendition of that "worst journey" no other adventure travelog can compare. Good reading and most unforgettable.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By K. Zabawa on December 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is the author's account of his own journey to find the Emperor penguins nesting grounds in the Antarctic winter, set into the context of Scott's final journey to the South Pole.

As should any really good book, it opened doors to new learning, as it informed about a subject about which I previously knew little, with interest level to match.

What struck me most is reading about unusual Antarctic ice melt conditons nearly 100 years ago, when human-induced 'global warming' could not have been an issue, at least so far as vehicle (and aircraft) pollution is concerned. I could be wrong, of course, but I began to see a bigger picture. That global warming is real and that polluting is bad are givens; that we can do much about the former is likely a conceit.

Also fascinating were the accounts of the nature of killer whales: Prior to this, I had assumed all killer whales were the loveable scamps shown in marine theme parks. Now? I give them a wide berth.

Apsley-Garrard's high regard for his fellow explorers and his gift for description make this book a joy to read. I only wish the editor/publisher had included (preferably inside the front or back cover) a proper map or graphic listing the place names mentioned in the text. The reader has to keep guessing, flipping or seeking out another map source to follow the journeys.

National Geographic ranks this book first on its list of the 100 greatest adventure books of all time. Also, see the DVD March of the Penguins, for the excellent 53-minute film on the making of the movie. This will give some idea of current challenges on a Winter Journey.
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