The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctica 1910-13 by Garrard, Apsley Cherry (2001) Paperback Info

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Reviews for The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctica 1910-13 by Garrard, Apsley Cherry (2001) Paperback:


December 14, 2000

Worst Journey - best book
Apsley Cherry-Garrard's amazing tale of life in the Antarctic as the youngest member of Scott's fatal expedition. I was gripped from the very first line of this book; "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised." He describes wearing clothes for 6 months with no dirt building up on them, or it being 'more lonely than London' and later he talks of his later experiences in the Great War (1914-18) where the polar explorers felt, considering what they had been through, the trenches were a relatively comfortable alternative. In short Cherry-Garrard has a simple way with words that I loved.
This Antartctic trip lasted some three years and ended with Scott's heroically-futile death - painfully close to supplies and help. Cherry-Garrard was one of those left at the base camp so he survived the trip - but don't think that his lot was much easier than those that struggled to the Pole. The book is as much about the Antarctic and the terrible hardships as about the people of the expedition. Cherry-Garrard's writing and his character seem to personify the stoic, good-humour of the men around him.
The book is very long and I have to admit that I needed extra maps to make sense of where they were - even though there are maps throughout the book. This is not a book, I think, for someone who is not interested in reading further about exploration in the Antarctic, but it makes an excellent start point to read others.
On a purely aesthetic note, the hard-cover version from Picador has the most wonderful cover and comes with a little ribbon to mark your place. It feels really lovely to read it.

August 28, 2014

Don't buy this edition, buy the Benediction Classics
This review refers to the Hardback Picador Travel Classics 1994 edition.

Apsley Cherry-Garrard's book is a tours de force, a classic of exploration and endurance. Having read it on Kindle I was desperate to obtain a hard back edition with the illustrations of the original (these are missing in my Kindle edition and it does make some aspects of the story hard to follow). Original period editions are a shocking price, so I was looking for the next best thing. Having read reviews on Amazon, one of which referred to the maps in this edition I went ahead and bought it. Well, the good news is that this edition is a very handy size to take away and read on a trip, and it's cheap. The bad news is that it contains not one single illustration. No maps, no photographs, no sketches, nothing. I find this very surprising for a hardback, and, well, I already had the equivalent on Kindle.

Since then I've gone and bought the Benediction Classics 2007 Hardback edition. It contains all the illustrations of the original two volumes, and though some are rather small, I'm happy when I compare the price to an original. Unfortunately, unlike this edition it has been reviewed only once, and then by someone who describes themselves as "not a great reader". It has been, in my opinion, terribly under-rated.

In short, if you want a reasonably priced hard back copy of a classic, don't get this, get the Benediction Classics.

October 30, 2014

Possibly the best book on Polar Exploration ever produced, Apsely Cherry-Garrard's classic was written primarily with the work of future explorers in mind. As such it is a very detailed and honest account of the operations side of the Terra Nova Expedition. This edition contains all the illustrations of the two volume original, and whilst the quality could be better, this together with the Benediction Classics appear to be the best modern renderings available. Of the two, this is a larger format, with much larger font and slightly larger illustrations. In the case of the illustrations the benefit is not so great as one may expect since many are resolution limited. For better illustrations I highly recommend "Edward Wilson's Antarctic Notebooks" (I have the 2011 Reardon edition).

Cherry-Gararrd's account only skims over the expedition's initial finance, selection and organisation which obviously had a direct bearing upon the outcome. It would also be nice if a future edition could provide a short follow-up on the subsequent fates of the major characters apart from the Polar Party.

As for style, and pace; if you want a Wikipedia summary or a Hollywood movie then don't look here. If you have the patience to hear the real story from a genuine hero then your effort will be well rewarded. The details are there for a reason, by the end I felt that I had been there in some tiny insignificant way as well and lost some good friends. Sensationalist revisions by lesser men can follow afterwards, if you so wish.

September 20, 2007

An Odyssey
Apsley's journey through the darkness of the stormy Antarctic winter to where the Emperor penguins stood with their eggs was one of the most moving journeys I have read about. Apsley tells the story with great humility and this endears him to the reader. This book would be worth buying simply for this story, but it also tells of Robert Falcon Scott's journey and the death of all of the party who made the final push to the pole. Apsley and the others who were not chosen to make the final push to the pole doggedly searched for their companions and friends and finally found them frozen. Apsley quotes Scott's journal detailing Scott's last moments and the fate of the others. This is harrowing, but inspiring reading. Apsley Cherry-Garrard is one of the more forgotten heros of Antarctic exploration. I use the word hero with trepidation, but it is apt in his case. He truly would lay down his life for his friends and he cared deeply for those he called friends.

January 10, 2013

The Best Book in the World
Can't really write a review adequate enough to do this story justice right at the top with Scott, Shackleton and other polar explorers, suprised that Cherry Garrard's story is largely forgotten.

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