The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic 1910-1913 By Apsley Cherry-Garrard
Introduction by Paul Theroux
Foreword by Club member Kenneth Kamler, MD
The Lyons Press
Review by Club member Lindley Kirksey
The Worst Journey in the World, selected as Volume II in The Explorers Club Classics Series, is best enjoyed beside the fireplace with a glass of fine wine. It is considered by National Geographic Magazine to be one of the finest adventure books ever written. The Oxford educated author, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, was selected at the last minute as a member of Captain Robert Scott’s 1910 Antarctic Expedition. Scott hoped to be the first to reach the South Pole. This honor fell to Roald Amundsen on December 14, 1911, with Scott reaching the Pole a month later and perishing with four others on the return journey.
Others on the expedition were conducting scientific expeditions that Scott considered enormously important. This was the age of Darwinism, so off the author went on a harrowing expedition across the Great Ice Barrier with Birdie Bowers and Bill Wilson (both of whom would later perish with Scott) to Cape Crozier to collect Emperor penguin embryos. This dual purpose, in the mind of Cherry-Garrard, weakened Scott’s Pole attempt. Cherry-Garrard later wrote, “Antarctic exploration is seldom as hard as you imagine, seldom as bad as it sounds. But this journey beggared our languages: no words could express its horror.”
The author was to have met the Scott party returning from the Pole at One Ton Depot. He forever wondered if venturing forth from the depot, he might have found them. Cherry-Garrard speculates that extreme weather conditions, an extra man on the Pole team, and inadequate provisions for the return trip were likely reasons for the death of Scott and his team. England needed a hero in Scott, and any responsibility by Scott for his own death was not acknowledged.
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