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The Worst Journey in the World (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 28, 2006
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In his introduction to the harrowing story of the Scott expedition to the South Pole, Apsley Cherry-Garrard states that "Polar Exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." This is his gripping account of an expedition gone disastrously wrong.
One of the youngest members of Scott's team, the author was later part of the rescue party that eventually found the frozen bodies of Scott and three men who had accompanied him on the final push to the Pole. Prior to this sad denouement, Cherry-Garrard's account is filled with details of scientific discovery and anecdotes of human resilience in a harsh environment, supported by diary excerpts and accounts from other explorers.
Summing up the reasons for writing the book, Cherry-Garrard says:
"To me, and perhaps to you, the interest in this story is the men, and it is the spirit of the men, "the response of the spirit," which is interesting rather than what they did or failed to do: except in a superficial sense, they never failed... It is a story about human minds with all kinds of ideas and questions involved, which stretch beyond the furthest horizons."
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Cherry Gerrard is a highly likeable, very human teller of the tale. He was the youngest member of the expedition, very much the gentleman and an Englishman to his fingertips. He shows us his human side (he didn't have the usual Englishman's fondness for animals and thought the dogs and ponies were miserable, exasperating beasts). He has a knack of bringing his fellow explorers to life, yet never criticizes at all. He has the highest regard for everyone in the party. He recaps from some of the other members' diaries to great effect. The enthusiastic Bowers writes his mother, "There is so much to see and do here; I just wish I could be three places at once!" Bowers was the best of them, to my way of thinking, and I was appalled when he "volunteered" for the Polar Party (already knowing the fate of same). Cherry Gerrard had enormous artistic appreciation for the austere beauties of Antarctica, but no matter how brilliantly he described them, my enthusiasm was nil for such a bleak landscape. He shows his depressive side in remarking on the "beauty of sleep" in the Antarctic---"sleep where you never need awaken.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best book written on Antarctic exploration.The author was part of Capt. Scott's expedition to the South PolePublished 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
Amazing account of journey in Antartica by a participant in the Scott trip to the South Pole. The writing gives a pretty vivid description of the hardships experienced by the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by William S Wakelin
The trials these exporers went through are astounding, and it is a wonder that more of them didn't die. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alan Adelman
This book was surely written by a beautiful person. At the time of the second Scott expedition to Antarctica, this person was young, loyal, hard working, sensitive to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by LAWRENCE DICOSTANZO
I don't feel like writing a long drawn-out review, as others have offered plenty of sufficient detail in theirs - I'll just say this book kept me going from cover to cover. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mark Skoglund
I wasn't able to finish the book due to shear boredom. This is pretty rare for me since I read a lot of these types of books. Read morePublished 5 months ago by goodgollyjosh
I've been an aficionado of survival stories for many years but heard only recently about this truly remarkable and extremely well-written, and brutally honest book about the Scott... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Michael Evans-layng