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Ends of the Earth by Roy Chapman Andrews

Ends of the Earth

by Roy Chapman Andrews

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Ends of the Earth
by Roy Chapman Andrews
4.1 · Rating details · 20 Ratings · 5 Reviews
Illustrated with actual photographs from the author's collection in the American Museum of Natural History.
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Ivory Adventure Classics, 293 pages
Published 1988 by Wolfe (first published February 1st 1972)
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Dec 23, 2013 Bob rated it really liked it
Although not divided as such, I saw this as three books in one. The first part--focusing primarily on Andrews' world-wide adventures--is the five-star section in my mind.It was definitely well worth the read.

The second part dealt primarily with Andrews' experiences while living in China. Having just finished a book about Hudson Taylor--the famous missionary to China--I couldn't help but notice the difference in attitudes toward the Chinese people and the value of life. This section of the book was interesting but left a rather unpleasant taste in my mouth.

The third part shows the typical progression of a person who begins with adventurous dreams but is then drawn into the world of raising funds and justifying projects. Most of this section highlights the importance of the museum and the quality of its people. I couldn't help but get the sense that it was written to help form public opinion and generate additional funds.

All in all, Ends of the Earth is definitely worth the read--in spite of the let-down at the end. (less)
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Feb 14, 2010 Clare rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, adventure
Another fascinating read about those intrepid souls who venture to places most of us would not even consider.
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Jul 14, 2012 Philip rated it really liked it
Shelves: exploration, china, southeast-asia, heroes-andrews, japan, korea, autobiography-memoir, 1920s, natural-history, less-than-100-ratings, 4-stars
Along with Francis Younghusband, Teddy Roosevelt and Peter Fleming, Roy Chapman Andrews is one of my all-time writer/adventurer heroes, so this was a lot of fun. I've read a lot about Andrews (often sited as the role model for Indiana Jones), but this is my first book by him. It's a charming, highly eccentric work - very stream-of-consciousness and most definitely written in "a simpler time." It's not a true autobiography per se - it's more like listening to a fascinating uncle go on and on, jumping around from one great story to the next, but without any real point or unifying theme. He has fascinating chapters on whaling and exploring Southeast Asia and Korea (which I'd known little about), as well as an unnecessarily long final section on life in 20's China. However, while he goes on at length about planning and funding his epic trips into the Gobi and to the Red Cliifs, he actually only mentions those journeys and his world-famous discoveries in brief passing at the very end of the book.

Andrews has a highly informal, chatty style, full of "by Jove"s and "Great Scott!"s. His joy throughout is infectious, if sometimes misplaced: "dynamiting fish on the coral reefs was always exciting;" "perhaps I could see a bit of looting and street fighting which would be interesting;" "personally, I loathe seeing a man beheaded." War itself, however, was apparently a real hoot: "the city is surroundede with soldiers - machine guns and artillery at the railway stations. Isn't it fun?"

Also, for a trained naturalist his science can be a bit spotty (although perhaps reflective of the times): falling overboard at one point, he is not attacked by sharks "because we were living creatures and a shark feeds largely on dead things;" he also opines that the spermaceti in a sperm whale's head is a form of nourishment for the whale, (it isn't, although scientists still aren't sure whether it's used for bouyancy or echolocation).

And finally, his observations can at times be a tad, well, politically incorrect (if not necessarily wrong). There are frequent references to "the indolent Malays," Chinese soldiers who "are the worst rifle shots in the world," and even comments on kimchi - "I have yet to find any native concoction which approaches it in general undesirableness."

Overall, a fast and pleasant read from one of the great explorer/scientists of all times. It's a shame he isn't more remembered these days - although with Benedict Cumberbatch working on a Percy Fawcett movie, perhaps Andrews (and maybe even Frank Younghusband!) will finally get his due. (less)
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Tom Oyster
Jan 11, 2016 Tom Oyster rated it it was amazing
A most excellent book. Andrews paints pictures with words that allows the common man to fall right into his scientific work.
  Alhickey1 | Oct 20, 2017 |
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