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Most Helpful Review
3 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Paul Theroux calls thi...
Paul Theroux calls this first person account of the ill-fated 1910-1913 Robert F. Scott expedition to the South Pole his "favorite travel book." I know what he means. My copy, a musty 2nd edition that I found in the bowels of the University library, is well over 500 pages long, and I think I read the darn book in three days. I simply could not put it down. It starts out "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." Theroux writes that the book is "about courage, misery, starvation, heroism, exploration, discovery, and fiendship." And it is about all that and so much more. What commitment these men had to science and to each other. As I get older I get more cynical about the world I am leaving to my children. This book restored my faith. And to think it happened less than 100 years ago is astounding. A personal connection to this book also added to its interest. Tom Crean, one of the members of this expedition, as well as Shackleton's legendary Endurance expedition a few years later, was a brother of my wife's great grandfather. This is the best book I have read in a long, long time!
9781375000338
23 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Like most people, I ha...

Like most people, I have always "known" a bit about Scott's journey to the South Pole - how it was a race with Amundsen, how the Norwegians "won", how Scott did get there but didn't make it back, and above all how Captain Oates tried to sacrifice himself to save the others, famously quoted as saying "Well, I am just going outside, and I may be some time", then leaving the tent to walk to certain death in a heavy blizzard. What I hadn't fully appreciated was the wider context of the expedition - the meticulous advance planning, the fundraising, the gathering of the team and supplies, the advance journey to lay down rations for the final push, the considerations of how to spend the many months of "dead" time (in addition to work and scientific experiments, they had books, games and a pianola to divert themselves with), and the important jobs done by the teams who didn't go to the Pole with Scott, but stayed at the base camp, or formed the supporting parties for the first legs of the journey. Above all, I had never fully understood (or even thought about) just how cold it was, all the time. Cherry-Garrard makes all this real, and makes it fascinating. He was a member of the party that went in search of Scott and his team the year after they failed to return from the Pole (it had been obvious for a long time that they must be dead, as it was impossible to survive once their food and fuel ran out, even by killing penguins), but they had to wait for the next "summer" to be able to trace the route successfully. He writes movingly about finding Scott and two companions dead in their sleeping bags inside their tent (Oates had walked out, and the fifth team member had died and been buried earlier), reading Scott's final diary entries, and burying the bodies under a cairn. But the even more incredible part of this book is the description of a journey undertaken during the team's first winter in the Antarctic (that is, before the trip to the Pole) - Cherry-Garrard and two others set out to reach the Emperor Penguin breeding grounds (which a previous expedition had discovered) and to bring back some eggs, which hadn't been done before. This mid-winter journey was decidedly NOT a good idea, and it is this, not Scott's fated trip, that gives the book its name. It was so cold on this journey that breath and sweat instantly froze solid, coating the men with sheets of ice outside and inside their clothes. They had to chip their way through the ice blocking the tops of their sleeping bags each night, wherein they lay shivering for 6 or 7 hours, and when they got ready to start walking each day they had to be careful to emerge from the tent and immediately assume appropriate poses for dragging sleds (yes, they dragged them themselves), in case their clothes froze their bodies into the wrong positions before they got their harnesses on. Then they would drag heavy loads for hours, occasionally stopping to pull each other out of crevasses, stopping for tea and biscuits halfway, setting up the tent every night, cooking dinner, chipping into the sleeping bags, all without being able to take any clothes off or warm up at all. This went on for six weeks in, of course, complete darkness. But they found the penguins, got some eggs, and got back safely (hope that's not a spoiler). And every night, Cherry-Garrard wrote in his diary, as he lay shivering in his frozen sleeping bag. You couldn't make this stuff up. I cannot recommend this book too highly, even if "true life adventure" is not usually your cup of tea. Cherry-Garrard was a really good writer and observer, and the story is a truly exciting and inspiring, if tragic, one. Just be prepared to fee very cold while you are reading it.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Paul Theroux calls thi...

Paul Theroux calls this first person account of the ill-fated 1910-1913 Robert F. Scott expedition to the South Pole his "favorite travel book." I know what he means. My copy, a musty 2nd edition that I found in the bowels of the University library, is well over 500 pages long, and I think I read the darn book in three days. I simply could not put it down. It starts out "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." Theroux writes that the book is "about courage, misery, starvation, heroism, exploration, discovery, and fiendship." And it is about all that and so much more. What commitment these men had to science and to each other. As I get older I get more cynical about the world I am leaving to my children. This book restored my faith. And to think it happened less than 100 years ago is astounding. A personal connection to this book also added to its interest. Tom Crean, one of the members of this expedition, as well as Shackleton's legendary Endurance expedition a few years later, was a brother of my wife's great grandfather. This is the best book I have read in a long, long time!

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

While this is one of t...

While this is one of the most famous exploration/adventure books ever written, it is equally important as a work of scientific literature. Scientific objectives were co-equal with exploration in the British antarctic expeditions, and this work details the wide range of scientific interests including meteorology, geology. marine biology, and human physiology in the extreme climate of the antarctic. The mid-winter expedition to the breeding grounds of the Emperor Penguin to recover a penguin egg, along with the tale of Scott's tragically unsuccessful attempt to be first to reach the pole, are the most famous portions of this vast work. But it is the many fascinating details of day-to-day life, and the systematic, step-by-step scientific approach taken over several years that kept me reading over the 500 pages.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Three men in the antar...

Three men in the antarctic, with no tent, in the dark, looking for the missing link. Adventure with a purpose. Thrilling.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Three men in the antar...

Three men in the antarctic, with no tent, in the dark, looking for the missing link. Adventure with a purpose. Thrilling.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

An incredible story to...

An incredible story told from a junior member of the team (Appsley Cherry-Garrad). The worst journey refers to a side trip taken to Cape Crozier by Wilson,Bowers,and Cherry-Garrard to observe and study the Emperor penguin. The expediton was organized as a scientific study, but was of course also a race to the South Pole against Amundsen. Scott's blunders and poor planning may be forgiven in light of the incredible amount of research undertaken by Wilson and others.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

I grew up listening to...

I grew up listening to heroic stories of Captain Scott and his brave men. This book covers the whole amazing expedition from start to finish and is a remarkable story of bravery and fortitude. Scott may not have been the first to reach the South Pole but his story in this book will live with me for ever.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Thank goodness that Ch...

Thank goodness that Cherry-Garrard was spared to relate this harrowing tale. Imagine it being so cold that it's hard to 'chip slivers off of butter'!? In places the language was so dated (or British) that I had to make out what was meant by the context. It must have been terribly disorienting to not be able to anchor yourself to seasons or 24 hour cycles of day and night. I found it very confusing to try and imagine where the heck they were - despite the supplied maps because South was essentially 'up'. I thought it very clever when they decided to ignore the construct of 24 hour days when it was continually dark twilight. Okay they were military, which I suppose helped but I found them admirably decisive on some unimaginably difficult issues. Some favorite passages; "Looking back I realized...that those Hut Point day would prove some of the happiest in my life. Just enough to eat and keep warm, no more -- no frills nor trimmings: there is many a worse and more elaborate life. The necessaries of civilization were luxuries to us: ...the luxuries of civilization satisfy only those wants which they themselves create." I can't help thinking that the men's buoyant mood is because they are thousands of miles away from the nearest woman. For sheer downright misery give me a hurricane, not too warm, the yard of a sailing ship, a wet sail and a bout of sea-sickness. Have you ever had a craving for sugar. Have you ever had a craving for sugar which never leaves you, even when asleep? Why can't men be like this at home; The best sledger is the man who sees what has to be done, and does it - and says nothing about it...There is nothing so irritating as the man who is always coming in and informing all and sundry that he has repaired his sledge, or built a wall, or filled the cooker, or mended his socks. Other things being equal, the men with the greatest store of nervous energy came best through this expedition. Having more imagination, they have a worse time than their more phlegmatic companions; but they get things done. And when the worst came to the worst, their strength of mind triumphed over their weakness of body. If you want a good polar traveler get a man without too much muscle, with good physical tone, and let his mind be on wires - of steel. And if you can't get both, sacrifice physique and bank on will. How much better has it been than lounging in too great comfort at home. Exploration is the physical expression of the Intellectual Passion. It's rather amazing how ignorant they were about scurvy and diet less than only 100 years ago. The passages on nutrition were fascinating to me.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

This book, written by ...

This book, written by one of the members of Scott's extended team on his final South Polar expedition, has been described as the greatest travel book ever. The Worst Journey in the World of the title is, though, not Scott's fatal one, but the author's own winter journey in darkness with two companions to retrieve Emperor penguin eggs. That dark and bleak journey is well told, as was the suffering of the Last Return Party and the sufferings by scurvy of one of its members that left him temporarily abandoned (he later made a full recovery). Scott's final, fatal journey is of course very gripping and tragic, with Scott's own diary entries recounting the diminishing number of miles covered each day and half day, the worsening weather conditions and the deteriorating physical weakness of his party (though one of the five, Edgar Evans, considered the strongest, actually weakened and died before those extreme weather conditions set in). This is a superb sequence of writing, though I suppose I was disappointed that Scott's final journey only took up a small portion of the book (2 of 19 chapters). Between these three dramatic accounts of specific journeys, there are long passages which, while well written, do get rather repetitive, with sometimes over long quotes from individuals' accounts that cover the same or very similar ground. So I do have to say in all honesty that this did drag in places. The final chapter contains a close analysis by the author of the reasons for failure of Scott's party, including the lack of oil caused by leakages, inadequate food rations for men pulling sledges, and unexpectedly extreme cold weather, including the blizzard that kept the final three survivors confined to their tent for 10 days before dying, only 11 miles from another food depot (Oates, unable to go on due to frostbitten feet, having already carried out his self sacrifice a couple of days earlier). The author himself, who was the one who discovered the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers 8 months after their deaths, encountered even worse things two years later during the first world war and apparently suffered lifelong depression as a result. (This Kindle edition unfortunately lacked the photos, drawings and maps which reduced its impact)

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

A very long book. I r...

A very long book. I read impatiently to start with, but have really had my eyes opened regarding the demands and perils of polar exploration. As the author is writing from first hand experience, he can be forgiven for lapses in literary style/skill. A really inspiring read.

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Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

Parts of this book are...

Parts of this book are amazing, especially the "worst journey in the world," a mid-winter trip to collect eggs from an emperor penguin colony, all suffering in the name of science. (The followup story when Cherry-Garrard gave the rotten eggs to a London museum is hilarious.) There are also amazing encounters with orcas. Other parts are tedious; there are too many extended quotes from other people's journals, for example. It is not the best polar exploration book. At his worst, the author can be deluded and self-important. But in the best parts the tale is impressive and occasionally inspirational. "If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg."

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

The worst journey be...

The "worst journey" began in July, 1911, in Antarctica. It was a different world then. So few people seem to be named Apsley anymore. Pity. Apsley Cherry-Garrard's experiences in Antarctica, recounted in The Worst Journey in the World, provide us with a keen sense of the difficulties faced when attempting the undone. The difficulties had costs, as Cherry's confidence later in life came to lack enough of the kind of self-regard that protects one against the sabotages of self-doubt. He writes, "when I was a subaltern of 24, not incapable of judging my elders, but too young to have found out whether my judgment was worth anything..." That thought is admirably put but to think it is perhaps a handicap, for even a fool has some judgment worth something. The fallout for Cherry meant lifelong self-questioning on whether he could have made other choices, choices he'd speculate might have saved Robert Scott, Birdie Wilson, and Bill Bowers on their return from the South Pole. The book is rich with excerpts from expedition members' journals. These entries are valuable for how they document many details of the venture, give authentic voice to the men's experiences, and are the crucial source for telling the story of the South Pole trip. Even so, I grew to feel a little impatient with them because in general the narrative is set at a slow pace anyway. Another drawback, in the edition I read, is the absence of maps showing all (or at least most) places mentioned. Without them, the reader not acquainted with Antarctica could as beneficially be told, with little sacrifice in precision, that one man went hither, another yonder, and a third to a place over there. Nevertheless, there is much here I am glad to have read, especially the heartfelt account of Scott's last journey, and of course the harrowing titular journey that Wilson, Bowers, and Cherry made in winter to acquire penguin embryos (of all things). The Worst Journey treats us to wonderful observations of the beauty and severity of the physical environment and of the animals the men saw. Robert Scott, after watching how killer whales break an ice floe in their attempt to prey on men and dogs, was moved to say, "It is clear they are endowed with singular intelligence, and in the future we shall treat that intelligence with every respect." It may be impossible not to feel similarly about the men Cherry describes and about the author himself who captured their work and the tragedy.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

A fine example of the ...

A fine example of the way that British Imperial machismo had lost touch with reality at the start of the 20th century. Scott's antarctic expedition relies to an inordinate degree on Englishmen Pulling Through as a justification for bad preparation and bad decisions such as his famous man pulled sledges. Cherry-Garrard accepts that Scott's death was a national tragedy and example of heroism, while at the same time showing in detail the rotten organization of this expedition in which he took part. Just contrast this with Amundsen's simultaneous journey recorded in his book "The South Pole".

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

It would be trite to s...

It would be trite to say that this is a harrowing read; I would like to be able to convince myself that the expedition, at the cost of so many lives, was worth while. Cherry-Garrard does approach this question at the end of the narrative, but I'm not sure that he was convinced either, there is something truly bitter and devastating about the ending. This is a fine edition, with photographs, illustrations from the South Polar Times, and several maps.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

At the same time, to ...

"At the same time, to visualize the Antarctic as a white land is a mistake,for, not only is there much rock projecting wherever mountains or rocky capes and islands rise, but the snow seldom looks white, and if carefully looked at will be found to be shaded with many colours, but chiefly with cobalt blue or rose-madder, and all the graduations of lilac and mauve which the mixture of these colours will produce. A White Day is so rare that I have recollections of going out from the hut or the tent and being impressed by the fact that the snow really looked white." I'm still having bad dreams about the frozen sleeping bags, but pony meat sounds okay.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Extremely long, but no...

Extremely long, but not repetitive. Very factual and objective. Not very philosophical. Not funny, except for a few tragicomical instances. Decent language. Fascinating.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Moving account of one ...

Moving account of one man's experience of the ill fated Scott Antarctic expedition. Cherry-Garrard never recovered from the horrors of his experiences and his imagined guilt. A modest man and a dreadful experience.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

A wonderful story of h...

A wonderful story of human endurance. In many ways, although they all survived, this journey was far worse than Scott's journey to the South Pole.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Quite simply the best ...

Quite simply the best travel book ever written.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Cherry-Garrards title...

Cherry-Garrard's title says it all. Terrifying, moving, and unforgettable.

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