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The Worst Journey in the World (original 1922; edition 2011)

by Apsley Cherry-Garrard

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1,001None8,520 (4.31)104
Member:podocyte
Title:The Worst Journey in the World
Authors:Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Info:Empire Books (2011), Paperback, 350 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Adventure, Books read in 2012

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The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)

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Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
An interesting, if overly long, account of Scott's final Antarctic polar expedition. ( )
  cazfrancis | Mar 26, 2014 |
Extremely long, but not repetitive. Very factual and objective. Not very philosophical. Not funny, except for a few tragicomical instances. Decent language. Fascinating. ( )
  TAU67SEu | Feb 6, 2014 |
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) ( )
  john257hopper | Sep 21, 2013 |
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. ( )
  overthemoon | Sep 5, 2013 |
This is an account of Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the South Pole. But the title refers to a expedition made in the winter of 1911 by Bowers, Wilson and Cherry-Garrard to Cape Crozier to get Emperor penguin eggs. They believed there was a rookery there and that Emperor penguins laid and incubated their eggs in the wintertime. This was a very hazardous time for travel, intense cold and no sunlight means they were traveling in the dark over land that has crevasses and ice. It was either the height of bravery or foolishness depending on your point of view.

The book covers more then just that, Cherry attempts to give the reader an idea of what it was like to actually live in the Antarctic for as long as they did. Detailing their daily activities, the work they did, the food they ate, their “Saturday night toast”: “Sweethearts and wives; may our sweethearts become our wives, and our wives remain our sweethearts.” Also a Sunday night toast to “Fallen Friends”. He also gives some of the conditions that factored in Scott’s death, how the weather and the men’s health, frostbite and injuries affected the outcome. He also tells of the other samples they collected, some specimens that only exist in the South Pole. He talks about searching for Scott’s body, and how they had to decide between searching for the Polar party or going to find another group since they couldn’t do both.

Cherry relies on his own memories, and the diaries of other explorers, including Scott and Wilson, Bowers letters home to his mother. He really gives you a feel for what happened, you can understand a little more of how, when a blizzard hit, they were basically helpless, couldn’t move from their spot. Although it was peaceful, you could sleep for hours in your bag, if you were running low on food it could be quite dangerous. They were also cut off from the world. Depending on a ship that might come, might shipwreck, or might get caught in a gale or an ice pack.

This could be a difficult read for some, Cherry doesn’t gloss over anything, he talks about the diseases, about the killer whales trying to eat them, having to kill their horses and dogs to survive. But if you can handle that, this is definitely a book I would recommend. ( )
1 vote BellaFoxx | Apr 4, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Apsley Cherry-Garrardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, CarolineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seaver, GeorgeForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spufford, FrancisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Everything else is vague. Hour after hour he staggered about: he got his hand badly frost-bitten: he found pressure: he fell over it: he was crawling in it, on his hands and knees. Stumbling, tumbling, tripping, buffeted by the endless lash of the wind, sprawling through miles of punishing snow, he still seems to have kept his brain working. He found an island, thought it was Inaccessible, spent ages in coasting along it, lost it, found more pressure, and crawled along it. He found another island, and the same horrible, almost senseless, search went on. Under the lee of some rocks he waited for a time. His clothing was thin though he had his wind-clothes, and, a horrible thought if this was to go on, he had boots on his feet instead of warm finnesko. Here also he kicked out a hole in a drift where he might have more chance if he were forced to lie down. For sleep is the end of men who get lost in blizzards. Though he did not know it he must now have been out more than four hours.
Exploration is the physical expression of the intellectual passion. And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore.
Just enough to eat and keep us 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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039385, Paperback)

The Worst Journey in the World recounts Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard—the youngest member of Scott’s team and one of three men to make and survive the notorious Winter Journey—draws on his firsthand experiences as well as the diaries of his compatriots to create a stirring and detailed account of Scott’s legendary expedition. Cherry himself would be among the search party that discovered the corpses of Scott and his men, who had long since perished from starvation and brutal cold. It is through Cherry’s insightful narrative and keen descriptions that Scott and the other members of the expedition are fully memorialized.

First time in Penguin Classics

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:26 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"Cherry-Garrard, who accompanied Robert Falcon Scott to the Antarctic on the explorer's doomed quest for the South Pole, recounts the unforgettable journey across forbidding, inhospitable terrain. He was also a member of the search party that ultimately discovered Scott's frozen body along with his last notebook entries." "With an introduction by the author, this tale of adventure stands out as a literary accomplishment as well as a classic of exploration."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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