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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




Endurance
by F.A. Worsley

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Worsley was the captain of the Endurance, escaped with Shackleton when their ship was crushed, and bore what they all bore. He navigated that heroic open-boat journey to South Georgia island, through weather that was so bad he could take sights on the sun only four times in 800 miles (1300 km). Still, they hit the island square on. Nice. His account is brisker than the thorough Shackleton's, but keeps the excitement intact.
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Publication Date:
1931

Rank:
35




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




Farthest North
by Fridtjof Nansen

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1893, Nansen purposely froze his ship into the Arctic ice and traveled with the drift of the pack. When the ship approached striking distance of the Pole, he set out for it by dogsled, reaching the highest latitude yet attained by man before turning back to Norway. He was gone three years. The book is both an epic and a lyric masterpiece.
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Publication Date:
1897

Rank:
11




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




Darkest Jungle
by Todd Balf

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U.S. Navy Lt. Isaac Strain's 1854 expedition into the Darién Gap was one of the first to explore the remote, seductive jungle and, without question, one of the unluckiest. They were unable to obtain native guides. They didn't carry enough provisions. Existing maps were a joke. Vampire bats drank their blood when they were sleeping. Worms hatched under their skin and starting eating their flesh. And so on. To read about their ordeal is horrendous and thrilling and all the other things you want a book like this to be.
Unavailable at GCC:
Availability at Other Libraries
Publication Date:
2003

Rank:
101




In the Land of White Death
by Valerian Albanov

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In 1912, two dozen men on a Russian ship found themselves frozen into the Arctic ice. Eleven tried to walk out. In the end, two made it back to civilization; Albanov was one of them. It's a great survival story, well told, and (at least until its recent reissue, which was excerpted in Adventure, November/December 2000) virtually unknown in the English-speaking world.
Unavailable at GCC:
Availability at Other Libraries
Publication Date:
1917

Rank:
34






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

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