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We have to remember that this book is almost 100 years old, so the text sometimes reads like something from Jules Verne... only it's true. His experience in loco aside, Garrard uses many passages from the crew's personal diaries (everybody had a diary going on) to better illustrate what happened on the expedition.
The book starts very slow, with more than a hundred pages of logistics, arrangements and such. What makes this part interesting is Garrard's personal views of other members of the expedition. But thes first 100 pages will prove difficult for the reader who only wants to know what happened to Scott and his four partners in the South Pole Expedition.
"Worst journey" really comes to life in Chapter 5, when the author starts to describe and explain all the expeditions and processes that would make possible Scott's going all the way south. I, for one, didn't think the whole thing was so complex. The final chapters, when Garrard narrates what really happened to Scott's party, and how the rescue team discovered their tent only 11 miles from salvation, are touching, and kept me reading way after bedtime.
Of course, as most of others reviewers stated, Cherry-Garrard's style is dry and his narration is partial, after all he personaly knew the people he was writing about, and he writes about things that really happened (that's why he says only a few words about Amundsen's expedition). "The worst journey in the world" is mandatory reading for everybody interested about South Pole exploration, no doubt about that. It's interesting to notice that, while Amundsen was the first to reach the pole, Scott, because of his tragedy, is more known to the general public. I would also recommend Roland Huntford's "Last place on Earth", a very good analysis of the differences between Scott's expedition and Amundsen's - Amundsen reached the pole 34 days before Scott and return alive and well
Cherry-Garrard could not more fairly credit his companions. From the beginning, he is modest and places huge credit on his fellow explorers. In particular, he talks about Bowers, Wilson, and Scott with a sense of awe and immense respect.
The countless horrors of Scott's journey are described graphically, and it was easy to imagine anything from leaping from ice-flow to ice-flow for ours on the depot journey to stumbling upon the dead bodies of his friends. I enjoyed every minute of it.
The Worst Journey was incredibly inspiring. After reading the book, I felt like I could do anything, take on any challenge. The troubles they endured, the lifestyle they adapted to, is mind-numbing. It is difficult to imagine surviving such things.
In the "Winter Journey," one of the most difficult Journey's ever experienced by man, Cherry-Garrard and two other men struggle through the Antarctic Winter to Cape Crozier to obtain Penguin Eggs. They travel in pitch black, around giant crevasses, in frozen clothing, in -70 degree temperatures, and with sleeping bags that take hours to get into. This was the most intense, gripping reading I have ever done.
No matter who you are, you will like The Worst Journey In The World. Fantastic writing, gripping plot, and visual descriptions will keep you glued to the book. And when it's done, you will not want to stop reading.
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