The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard is the inspiring, hair raising and wonderfully written account of Scott's second expedition to the Antarctic. Apsley Cherry-Garrard was one of the youngest members of the team which set out in 1910.
The working title for the book was "Never Again, Scott, Some Penguins and the Pole" the author also toyed with the title "To Hell With Scott". "Worst Journey," "Never Again" and "To Hell" are all words which sum up this unbelievable Antarctic adventure.
In addition to being a scientific venture, Scott and four companions also hoped to become the first men to reach the South Pole. As we know they were beaten to their goal by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, only perished in a blizzard on their return journey only 11 miles from a food depot.
The author was initially not chosen to go on the Terra Nova Expedition to the South Pole because he was not a scientist. Despite being rejected, he re-applied, promising to pay £1,000 ( more than £50,000 today or $75,000 ). Scott rejected him a second time, but Cherry-Garrard contributed the money anyway.
This gesture, as well as an endorsement by Dr. Bill Wilson, Scott's friend and the expedition's surgeon, zoologist and artist resulted in Cherry-Garrard being accepted as assistant zoologist.
A Gripping, Hair Raising, Page-Turner
We can be thankful that Cherry was chosen for the expedition. Through him we have a first hand account of this unbelievably tough, difficult and unforgiving adventure. The author's wonderful prose give us a fascinating and detailed look at the explorers' every day life and the harrowing experiences they encountered. This books is a gripping and hair raising page-turner.
There are descriptions of circling Orcas waiting for their chance to get at men and ponies frantically trying to get off floating ice floes onto shore.
Through Cherry we get a clear picture of the other expedition members and their personalities. They remained gentlemen and were always courteous to each despite the incredible strain they were under.. We are introduced to Antarctic weather in a manner which will have you reaching for a blanket, even on a warm day.
While Scott's expedition to the South Pole is one worst journey, Cherry also describes his own"worst journey" which he and two companions ( Wilson and Bowers) narrowly survived.
They Nearly Died To Get An Egg
They set out for Cape Crozier to find a colony of Emperor Penguins in order to bring back an egg for science. This trip entailed pulling sleds for miles over jagged ice, in impossible conditions at temperatures which sometimes dipped to more than -70 F.
The men were caught in a blizzard, their tent, the one thing that meant the difference between life and death, was blown away. Miraculously, a day later they found it and somehow managed to survive their incredible ordeal.
Throughout the book Cherry comes through as a thoroughly nice person who had tremendous respect and affection for fellow sufferers. One of the explorers, Birdie Bowers who was to perish with Scott was probably the most enthusiastic and toughest of them all. His ability to tolerate unbelievably cold temperatures with a modicum of clothing was legendary. He was always on the go and fascinated by everything around him.
Cherry was part of the party that eventually set out to find Scott and his companions. They were discovered frozen in their tent on November 12, 1912.
When Cherry and the surviving team members finally returned to England he immediately joined Royal Air Service and served for a short time in Belgium. The Worst Journey in The World was published in 1922 after many revisions. Cherry received invaluable help from his friend and neighbour George Bernard Shaw.
The Worst Journey In The World has been heralded the best true adventure book ever written. This book is a fascinating classic which belongs in any serious reader's library.
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