Hate shopping? Don’t know what to get the Wetasses in your life? Then I urge you to peruse this list of the 100 greatest adventure books, compiled by National Geographic adventure. Number 1? The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, about Scott’s failed mission to the South Pole. Here’s the write-up:
As War and Peace is to novels, so is The Worst Journey in the World to the literature of polar travel: the one to beat. The author volunteered as a young man to go to the Antarctic with Robert Falcon Scott in 1910; that, and writing this book, are the only things of substance he ever did in life. They were enough. The expedition set up camp on the edge of the continent while Scott waited to go for the Pole in the spring. But first, Cherry-Garrard and two other men set out on a midwinter trek to collect emperor penguin eggs. It was a heartbreaker: three men hauling 700 pounds (318 kilograms) of gear through unrelieved darkness, with temperatures reaching 50, 60, and 70 degrees below zero (-46, -51, and -57 degrees Celsius); clothes frozen so hard it took two men to bend them. But Cherry-Garrard’s greater achievement was to imbue everything he endured with humanity and even humor. And—as when he describes his later search for Scott and the doomed South Pole team—with tragedy as well. His book earns its preeminent place on this list by captivating us on every level: It is vivid; it is moving; it is unforgettable.
It doesn’t get much more laudatory than that. But, you know what? The reviewer is right. And if you’ve read it already, don’t worry. There’s tons of good stuff on this list…
Chilled Cherry-Garrard: “Sure everyone is dying. But it’s going to make an amazing book…”