The Worst Journey in the World

The Worst Journey in the World

4.16 (4,451 ratings by Goodreads)
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In his introduction to the harrowing story of the Scott expedition to the South Pole, Apsley Cherry-Garrard states that 'Polar Exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised.' The Worst Journey in the World is his gripping account of an expedition gone disastrously wrong. One of the youngest members of Scott's team, the author was later part of the rescue party that eventually found the frozen bodies of Scott and three men who had accompanied him on the final push to the Pole. Prior to this sad denouement, Cherry-Garrard's account is filled with details of scientific discovery and anecdotes of human resilience in a harsh environment, supported by diary excerpts and accounts from other explorers. Summing up the reasons for writing the book, Cherry-Garrard says 'To me, and perhaps to you, the interest in this story is the men, and it is the spirit of the men, "the response of the spirit", which is interesting rather than what they did or failed to do: except in a superficial sense they never failed-It is a story about human minds with all kinds of ideas and questions involved, which stretch beyond the furthest horizons.'show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 704 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 40mm | 458.14g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 1844131033
  • 9781844131037
  • 315,862

Review quote

"The Worst Journey in the World goes in and out of print; but it is indestructible, because it is a masterpiece." -- Paul Therouxshow more

Review Text

No episode in the history of human endeavour reads more harrowingly than Scott's last expedition to Antarctica. Scott reached the South Pole in January 1911 to find Roald Amundsen had beaten him to it; then perished with his companions on the way home. 'Yet, "tragedy"', Apsley Cherry-Garrard was to write a decade later, 'was not our business.' Cherry-Garrard was just 24, the youngest but one of the team when he joined Scott. Left behind for the final leg, in accordance with Scott's original plan for a four-man advance, it fell to Cherry-Garrard eight months later to be a member of the search party which discovered their frozen bodies. The experience permanently damaged his mental health. For the rest of his life he was haunted by the fear that, but for what he perceived as an error of judgement on his part, they might have survived. Yet this book, his story of that and earlier expeditions, is in no way self-indulgent or sensationalist. Despite his name, aristocratic birth and classics degree from Oxford, Cherry-Garrard was no arrogant nobleman. Rather, this not especially robust but intelligent man well understood that polar exploration requires a singular fortitude pushing beyond brute strength to what Ranulph Fiennes was later to term mind over matter. Cherry-Garrard's descriptions of the conditions suffered are rendered all the more diabolical by prose as stark as the landscape traversed. As for hyperbole, the 'Worst Journey' of the title in fact refers to an earlier expedition investigating nesting sites of the Emperor penguin. A work of supreme dimension, this masterpiece remains as compelling today as when it was first published 80 years ago. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886-1959) was one of the youngest members of Captain Scott's final expedition to the Antarctic which he joined to collect the eggs of the Emperor penguin. After the expedition, Cherry-Garrard served in the First World War and was invalided home. With the zealous encouragement of his neighbour, George Bernard Shaw, Cherry-Garrard wrote The Worst Journey in the World (1922) in an attempt to overcome the horror of the journey. As the years unravelled he faced a terrible struggle against depression, breakdown and despair, haunted by the possibility that he could have saved Scott and his more

Rating details

4,451 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 46% (2,030)
4 33% (1,463)
3 16% (693)
2 4% (179)
1 2% (86)
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