Lisa's Reviews > The Worst Journey in the World

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
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Jul 13, 11

bookshelves: 2011, kindle-baby, own, faves, book-crushes, history, non-fic, what-a-man, been-around-the-world-and-i-i-i
Recommended for: Everyone
Read from July 08 to 13, 2011, read count: 1

He wasn't lying with that title, but what's missed out is that it's perhaps the most incredible journey too, as well as one of the most incredible books I've ever read (if I could give this 10 stars it wouldn't be enough).

Concerning Scott's last expedition to the Antarctic of which I previously knew woefully little (even though he's a hometown boy), I no longer have to lament that fact thanks to this most comprehensive and compelling account by Apsley Cherry-Garrard who, at 24, was a member of the expedition (though not of the last dash to the pole) and made it back to tell the tale. Painstakingly compiled from not only Garrard's diaries and remembrances but also through those of the other men, from letters home and the many, meticulous records of the journey (it chiefly having a scientific object), Garrard fully presses home the ideal that these men strove to uphold even in the face of certain death - to shine a little light on the darkest, most inhospitable corners of the world and bring forth a little more knowledge, laying a foundation for those who came after to build upon.

Garrard does a truly fantastic job of immersing you in his material, not only giving you all of the detail surrounding the expedition down to temperatures, wind directions, logistics, etc but also painting a vivid picture of their lives there. Alongside the hardships there are moments of wonder and joy; in the beauty of their surroundings, of their discoveries and studies and in the way Garrard writes of the personalities of the animals and men (I adored the indomitable Bowers as, clearly, did Garrard). Sitting alongside is unhistrionic documentation of the most unimaginably inhospitable environments and acts of incredible endurance, bravery and generosity that I don't think I'll be ever able to forget (Crean's solitary journey of 35 miles, on foot and with no equipment, to raise help for a dying man, completely awes me). Waking afloat on a patch of floating sea ice, teeth splitting due to the cold, frostbite, hourly drops into crevasses and the terrible blindness of blizzards are just some of the other horrors within. I can't even begin to imagine what a temperature of -75 feels like, but if I ever whinge at a festival that my clothes are damp again, you have my permission to slap me.

We all know now became of Scott's last Polar Journey and it's very easy to look at it with the benefit of hindsight and point out mistakes. I spent quite a lot of time cursing the horrific distances between depots and Garrard, in his stated aim of passing on knowledge to future explorers, is forthcoming about the many shortcomings and miscalculations as well as the plain rotten luck experienced by the party. Having read this now, and feeling like I've come through the journey with them, I find it hard to condemn any of the actions within and am instead struck with a feeling of awe at what was accomplished and endured, and what a debt we owe to all of the people who have gone out and discovered all of the wonderful things we know about the world.
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Reading Progress

07/09/2011
18.0% "Crikey. I'd have thrown the towel in long before they even got there."
07/10/2011
33.0% "I will never moan about a tent ata festival being too cold or too wet ever again."
07/10/2011
47.0% "These poor sods. And they're not even on the truly horrific part of the journey yet."
07/12/2011
80.0% "This is easily one of the most incredible books I've ever read."
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