Having read Bryson's The Short History of Nearly Everything and At Home: A History of Private Life, this book was a surprise for me. This book was written well before those two, and was a huge departure from what I expected.
This has a little history and a little science, but it is mostly the story if Bryson and a friend walking Appalachian. While that may not sound very exciting, it is! This story is never boring and will constantly make you laugh. It demonstrates a much different side of Bill Brysonthan I knew.
Also, whole many reviewers say they prefer when Bill Bryson reads his own work. I do not agree. At Home was read by Bryson, and it was ok. The narrator for this book is more than ok! He is exceptional and does an amazing job with the character voices. I don't think fans of the author will be disappointed with the narration!!
A wonderful book; meticulously researched, yet compulsively readable.
Brings you from Victorian England to the jungles of the Africa in search of Europe's first glimpse at the gorilla. An absolutely true story of an adventure that demonstrates the biting world of science in the Victorian era. Sound boring? Not even a little: included in this adventure are Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, the wild uncharted land of the Africa, wildlife never seen before, many native African tribes and even a large group of "cannibals".
I loved this story, and it inspired me to read Darwin's work again and other writings of the time. It seems that being a great scientist in Victorian times could make you as famous as being a Hollywood actor during the golden age of film. Unfortunately it was just as cut throat and competitive and FULL OF CONTROVERSY.
The story of the young French Explorer, Paul Du Chaillou and all he accomplished is truly extraordinary.
If you believe in creationism vs evolution, this might not be the book for you. Though it does deal with the struggle for many that age, including prominent scientists, to find god in the many archeological and biological findings of the time that completely contradicts the biblical belief of creation.
I've listened to multiple books about Scott's last expedition. Notably, Cherry-Garrard's book combines many journals to tell the full story of the entire expedition. I was disappointed with CG's account. It's very long and barely discusses the death of Scott's summit/pole team. So I found myself going straight to the source.
Here is the actual journal of Robert Scott. It is so nonchalant about the deaths of the members that you can easily miss the extreme danger these men were in. But Scott was more honest in his journal, than other journals I've read about the expedition. When a man was slowing them down or becoming weak, he is quick to notice. He doesn't fake a pleasant demeanor; he is the leader of the huge team and is responsible for life and death decisions. Scott was very ambitious and competitive, as the leader of such an adventure would be. His writing may not demonstrate the ruthlessness of his mission, but it definitely brings my understanding full circle. Scott cut a team of men at the start of the summit/pole run for underperforming. (Perhaps he should have kept them longer.) His statements at the end of the failing mission while the men were dying, show that he expected his team to be healthy and self-reliant.
In trying to figure out "what went wrong", obviously the weather was beyond their endurance or control! And I believe the race to the pole was physically far more taxing than anyone anticipated. I will never understand why he didn't have a rescue mission ready just in case. I just don't know what could have spared their lives.
Speaking earlier of Scott's ambition and extreme competitiveness, I must point out that Scott writes, "The worst has happened!" when he sees evidence of that the Norway team beat him by nearly two months. He adjusts his statement, "well, almost the worst thing". Obviously, in his eyes at that moment, the only thing worse was death, or was it?
I believe that his will to survive the terrible march back to the ship was greatly impacted by losing his race to the pole. From the moment he saw that Norway had beaten him, I believe his inner fight was greatly diminished. His life's ambition and dream was gone. For me this explains the ease with which he gave in to death. Losing the lives of his team for a forlorn mission of his own making was too much to bear on his shoulders. So it's sort of like he went down with his ship... Like a good captain.
It is very sad, but told with utmost bravery.
The narrator was great, but a pace too slow. I listened to this on 1.25x speed and it sounded perfect. Thus making it a quick but important ending to the mystery of Scott's last expedition!