Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Pole to Pole” as Want to Read:
Pole to Pole
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Pole to Pole

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,887 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Having circumnavigated the globe from west to east in Around the World in 80 Days, Michael Palin proceeded to stretch even his endurance with his next journey, travelling due south from the North Pole, arriving five months later at the southernmost point of the globe, the South Pole. The result is Pole to Pole, Palin's account of his extraordinary journey between July and ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published 2004 by BBC (first published 1992)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Pole to Pole, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Pole to Pole

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Pramod Nair
Jan 31, 2015 Pramod Nair rated it really liked it
"Himalaya" was the first T.V. series and book which introduced me to the travel writings of Michael Palin. Since then i have hunted down all the T.V. Shows and books by Palin and i have enjoyed them with great pleasure.

In "Pole to Pole" Michael Palin braves both extremes of temperature as he and his team follows the 30 degree east line of longitude to cross 17 diverse countries in a spectrum of traveling options; from trains, trucks, ships, buses to even a balloon ride. I highly recommend this
Sep 24, 2007 Chris rated it really liked it
I love journey stories. In the post-9/11 world, I find myself retreating to travel stories more and more. I rediscovered Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days a few months back, and decided to rent this series (on VHS) as well. It was so good that I went to [] and read the companion book of the series. It's free, but it's a grind as there's only a few hundred words on each page. Still, the story is worth telling -- going from the North Pole through Europe, the ...more
Oct 28, 2013 E rated it really liked it
Michael Palin writes a mean book but tapes a better show. So good I wanted to watch it but sadly not on streaming and will have to wait for disk. :(
Tito Quiling, Jr.
Right after finishing the book, I have to admit that I watched the documentary series on "Pole to Pole" just so I could compare how the two were able to deliver in terms of the narrative. Starting off the North Pole and jumping into the Scandinavian countries, to Eastern Europe, traversing North, East, and West Africa and Eastern South America to get to the South Pole in nearly 150 days (5 months). In between, all the conversations with the locals, the band-aid solutions they needed to put on to ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Elsa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Palin’s travel universe I prefer the books where he mixed travels and literature (two of my favorite subjects), so, so far, my favorite books are “Around the world in eighty days” and “Hemingway adventure”, but I like all his books, and Pole to Pole was no exception.

It was a little strange to read this book 23 years after it was written, before the collapse of the URSS, before Mandela assume the presidency of South Africa, before the Euro, before cell phones become as common as sand in the de
João Duarte
Aug 16, 2015 João Duarte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iniciei a leitura de "De Pólo a Pólo" sem expectativas de maior. De facto, guardava na memória o mais recente "A Nova Europa", um livro muito interessante mas que tinha sabido a pouco.

Partindo do mesmo princípio (ser um livro baseado na série televisiva homónima), "De Pólo a Pólo" retrata a viagem que Michael Palin e a sua equipa da BBC fizeram no início da década de 1990, partindo do Pólo Norte, seguindo rumo por terra ou mar até ao Pólo Sul, com uma ligação Chile-Antártica por via aérea, à fa
Kiera Healy
Aug 18, 2013 Kiera Healy rated it it was amazing
I remember the show from TV when I was a kid, and so when I saw the book available I thought I'd pick it up. I'm glad I did! I love travelogues, and Michael Palin is a warm and personable writer (quite the opposite of Bill Bryson, whose MO tends to be "show up, don't talk to anyone, then complain about everything"). As the name suggests, this is the story of his journey from the North Pole to the South, largely overland - through Eastern Europe, central Africa, then a brief sojourn in Chile, bef ...more
Sam Still Reading
Jan 27, 2011 Sam Still Reading rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: armchair travellers
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: read other books by the same author
Pole to Pole is the last of Michael Palin’s travel books that I have to read. (I still need to track down a copy of Hemingway Adventures in the future, but I may watch the series first as I’m not really into Hemingway). Set in the early 1990s (just before the fall of the USSR), Palin and the regular crew (including Basil and Clem) start at the North Pole with the aim of reaching the South Pole following the same longitude as closely as possible.

This takes them through Greenland, Finland, Estonia
Jul 29, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, for several reasons. The first is that Palin an genuinely funny, engaging writer who draws you into the narrative so you almost feel like you are there. Secondly, I watched the TV show along side this, and very little of the TV show is in the book. You might get a sentence that says "we spent the morning filming" and then it goes into no more detail than that, and he concentrates on other stuff that happens, so it's not just a book of the TV show.

And finally, the thi
Apr 13, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I picked up this Michael Palin travelogue from a bookstore in Gatwick airport. I needed something to pass the 8 hour flight from London to Charlotte, NC since I was unwilling to foot the bill for a set of headphones. Although I spent about 16 US dollars on this book, it was well-worth it. I entertained my neighbors on the plane by chuckling periodically at Palin's characteristically British humor, and by guffawing at some of the situations in which he found himself as he trekked from the North P ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it
After his 80 days around the World travelogue, Michael Palin travelled from the North Pole to the South Pole. The book has become historically interesting as his stop in 'Leningrad' was just before the city reverted to 'Saint Petersburg' in 1991. The trip also took him through the USSR just weeks before it dissolved and South Africa just after the fall of apartheid.

I enjoyed the photos in the book, especially of the research station at the South Pole and found some clips which are viewable on Y
Aug 20, 2007 Susanne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travelling
Palin follows the crazy idea of going from the North Pole to the South Pole, as much as possibly going along the 30th Meridian East. Travelling in 1991/92 he goes through 17 countries with am incredibly diverse history, but surprisingly much in common. From the flailing USSR which ceases to exist as he reaches the South Pole over countries in East Africa that are deeply affected by this transistion (such as Zimbabwe) or the just opening South Africa.
At the same time it is an oddly personal book
Oct 23, 2008 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
No, this book is not about a strip-club dancer forced to work alone a whole evening without a break. It is, literally, an account by the well-known Monty Python alum Michael Palin (not to be confused with his long-lost cousin in Alaska) of his travels from North Pole to South Pole, down through Europe and Africa. He is a travelling man. A companion book to the PBS series. I really enjoy his shows and have enjoyed the books as well. His humor is understated here, and it is pleasant. This is not t ...more
Oct 18, 2016 Aaronb rated it it was amazing
Refreshing book starting in the North Pole, travelling through Russia, Africa, and reaching the South Pole. Former Monty Python'er has a hilarious style, fussing at only getting recognized at the South Pole "by a chef with cake mix on his hands"!
He focuses on the non-safari areas and minimizing use of airplane except when necessary. The logistics of such a voyage are daunting, especially in 1991 when there was no internet to check or confirm travel arrangements!
The crew he brings with him is als
Eva Whiteley
Dec 26, 2014 Eva Whiteley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
Reading this book over twenty years after the epic journey took place made it no less enjoyable than if I had read the day it had been published. What has made the book more special now and proof that a well written and interesting travel book not only captures a snap shot in time can also turn into an informative trip through modern history. Unlike previous Palin books where I had been left wanting to know more about some of the locations I found the tempo and content well-paced with enough des ...more
Nov 21, 2012 Brigitte rated it really liked it
I've started reading travelogues, because apparently it's not bad enough to suffer from a desperate need to be anywhere else but boring old suburbia, I need to torture myself by reading about the amazing experiences other people have had. Michael Palin's Pole to Pole is a really enjoyable book, part diary, but travelogue, told in Michael Palin's affable style, not holding back on any of the unpleasant aspects of his journey (and there were many!), but also written with a sense of joy and appreci ...more
Palin's travelogues are delightfully, well... delightful. I think that this book lacks the urgency of Around the World, since Palin was racing the clock in the first one. This book is more interesting though, and places itself well in its own time; days after Palin left the Soviet Union, it collapsed. The theme of change follows through the book; change from colonialism to post-colonialism, communism to capitalism, but strangely enough not environmental changes in the regions the book is named f ...more
Catherine  Mustread
Feb 24, 2009 Catherine Mustread rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Travel book readers
Recommended to Catherine by: Suible
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
Enjoyed this even more than Palin's Around the World in 80 days. Interesting that he attempts to follow the 30 degrees east line through Europe/Africa. In looking at a world map, no other line would have contained as much the Pacific rim. land or as many countries. Next up would be Palin's Great Circle about Thought of this author while looking for an interesting book/cd combo to take on a car trip. Palin, travel writer and former comic, recently became head of National Geographic Society.
Apryl Anderson
Jul 19, 2013 Apryl Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book makes me want to travel...back in time and well as place, because 1991 seems so far away. Except if you're in Africa, then its as timely as ever. (Names and faces change, but the politic remains much the same.) having said that, human nature is always worth observation, and Palin's love for the comic brings out the best in ever situation--including the worst.

Given the choice, the BBC video series is preferable to the book, which is ironically too heavy to pack for travel.
Mar 26, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it
The heart of this book centres around the crew's journey across Africa. While never losing his sense of humour Palin makes some sobering comments about the state of that continent in the early nineties, when the book was first published.
Always entertaining and informative, a useful companion piece to the original TV series.
Vikas Datta
Dec 25, 2014 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful as always as we can expect from Mr Palin but the real worth of this book is not only the splendidly incongruous journey but as a record of a world on the cusp of far-reaching changes - their transit through the USSR came only a few days before the abortive August coup against Gorbachov....
Feb 09, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: michael-palin
Palin's second journey going as the title suggests from the North Pole to the South Pole.

Great second journey filled with the usual Michael Palin documentary.... Audio version superb as always when read by the author.

Rereading on audio 11/09/14
Oct 13, 2013 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I chose this after Bill Bryson got too pretentious/whiny and found it a much better alternative. Palin includes interesting tidbits about the places he travelled through and some humorous perspectives, but he does so without Bryson's habitual lofty tone/condescension.
Marty Greenwell
Dec 31, 2014 Marty Greenwell rated it it was amazing
Good adventure book. Not sanitized, especially in Africa. I know it was a film crew that went along but Palin's funny prose and statements about a society ring true today. Reminded me about our family 2008-2009. Will read more and watch the videos that are twenty years old today.
Brian F
May 09, 2012 Brian F rated it really liked it
Brilliant book, from the beginnings at the arctic circle and the north pole through to
our intrepid explorer reaching the point where Scott and Amundsen raced to, I found this
book a page turner from beginning to end.
Chris Steeden
May 17, 2014 Chris Steeden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this one. A lot more detail than Around the World in 80 Days. You know what you're getting with the Palin books. It is hardly extreme adventure stuff but great for observational and historical content.
Aug 10, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scanned
*3.5/5 stars. A solid effort from Palin, but perhaps greater focus needed on the stops rather than just the travelling. A good throwback to another point in time. I particularly enjoyed the chapters in Sudan & Ethiopia.
Oct 24, 2016 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Around the World... I wanted to pick this up as well. Sadly, whilst the adventure is just as amazing, the book is not written well at all. I know it is all notes from Palin's diary, but it just doesn't read anywhere near as easily as 80 Days did.
May 03, 2014 Andrew rated it really liked it
Palin does a good job of turning his travel diary into a narrative. Far more than just a transcript of the TV series script. In fact not that at all - this stands alone. The TV series just pops up now and then.
A good read and I will seek out more of his works.
Candace Arambula
Jul 30, 2014 Candace Arambula rated it it was amazing
I have read this book several times. I love how Palin gives you a taste of his adventures. Fabulous photography throughout adds to the descriptions of the amazing places he visits. Absolutely adore Palin books!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Size of the World
  • A Piano In The Pyrenees: The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains
  • Travelers' Tales India: True Stories
  • I Should Have Stayed Home: The Worst Trips of Great Writers
  • The First 200 Years of Monty Python
  • The People's Guide to Mexico
  • North of South: An African Journey
  • Stephen Fry in America
  • Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure
  • Long Way Down
  • The Pillars of Hercules
  • The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America
  • Conquistadors
  • You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons: The World on One Cartoon a Day
  • Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die
  • Extreme Frontiers: Racing Across Canada from Newfoundland to the Rockies
  • Slowly Down the Ganges
  • American Nomads: Travels with Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, and Bullriders
Michael Edward Palin, CBE, is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries.

Palin wrote most of his material with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had worked on other shows such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared in some of the
More about Michael Palin...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“If all goes well we should be in Lusaka by tonight, then Victoria Falls, and from what I hear our troubles are over after that. Zimbabwe and South Africa are comfortable, efficient, Westernized. Akuna Matata. No Problem. Wild, uncomfortable, incomprehensible Africa will give way to tamed and tidied Africa – hot baths and iced beers, air-conditioning and daily newspapers, French wines and credit cards. Lying here, listening to the aching wind in a hut by a lake in a forest, I feel a pain of sadness at the prospect of leaving behind all I have been through these past months and returning to a world where experience is sanitized – rationed out second-hand by television and newspapers and magazines and marketing companies.” 0 likes
More quotes…