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Extreme Classics: 100 Greatest Adventure Books

( National Geographic Adventure )



Worst Journey in the World
by Apsley Cherry-Garrard

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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.
Call Number:
Electronic Resources
Publication Date:
1922

Rank:
1




Voyage of the Beagle
by Charles Darwin

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The grand old man of modern biology was a gentleman of leisure, a crack shot, and no scientist when, at 22, he boarded the Beagle for its long survey voyage to South America and the Pacific. His record of the trip is rich in anthropology and science. (His shipmates called him 'the Fly-catcher.') The adventure comes in watching over Darwin's shoulder as he works out the first glimmerings of his theory of evolution.
Call Number:
QH11 .D2 Electronic Resource
Publication Date:
1839

Rank:
23




South
by Ernest Shackleton

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Shackleton's story bears endless retelling (and it has been retold, in fine accounts by Alfred Lansing and, more recently, Caroline Alexander). Here we have it in the great British explorer's own words, quiet, understated, enormously compelling. We all know the story: the expedition to Antarctica in the Endurance, the ship breaking up in the ice, the incredible journey in an open boat across the world's stormiest seas. Though Shackleton's literary gifts may not equal those of Cherry-Garrard or Nansen, his book is a testament, plain and true, to what human beings can endure.
Call Number:
G850 1914.S53 S53 2009 EB
Publication Date:
1919

Rank:
15




Oregon Trail
by Francis Parkman

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In 1846, the future historian of the American West went west himself, following the trail of the emigrant trains into the Rockies. 'A month ago,' he writes along the way, 'I should have thought it rather a startling affair to have an acquaintance ride out in the morning and lose his scalp before night, but here it seems the most natural thing in the world.' Generations of readers have loved this book; you will, too.
Call Number:
F592 .P284 2010 EB
Publication Date:
1849

Rank:
31




Roughing It
by Mark Twain

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Twain lit out for the territory when the Civil War started and knocked around the West for six years. Roughing It is the record of that time, a great comic bonanza, hilarious when it isn't simply funny, full of the most outrageous characters and events. It is not an adventure book, it is an anti-adventure book, but no less indispensable.
Call Number:
PS1318 .A1 2010 EB
Publication Date:
1972

Rank:
13






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Award Description
Stories of real life adventure selected and ranked by the folks at National Geographic Adventure magazine.

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