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!!
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!
My god! What a tragic story! This is the story of most well-known tragediy on Everest in my living memory: the 1996 Everest attempts.
Jon Krakauer was is a magazine journalist and an author of many excellent books. His story on Pat Tillman is fascinating, and his book Under the Banner of Heaven is a favorite of mine. Into The Wild received so much fan and critical success that they made a movie.
This book is if different, though. He was on one of the two ill-fated expeditions that shared a common fate. An amazing story told by the author. I never really like to listen to the author read, but it definitely works here!
Because Jon Krakauer wrote this only 6 months after the disaster, it has an intensity that is rare. Krakauer was dealing with a tremendous amount of survival guilt. I only hope he is me a man at peace.
A must read!!
Memoirs read by the author are special. Amanda L. does a good job telling her story. Amanda, and others who travel the world with reckless disregard of others, engender mixed feelings in me.
One gets an intimate view of what it is like to be a hostage. Things that occur are not surprising to anyone who reads the news but an unflinching first hand account. Amanda L. has taken an amazing tour of some of the most dangerous places in the world. One cannot help admire her bravery and inquisitiveness.
That said, I could not help but be troubled by her trip to Somalia. She admits it was a mistake, but most would have known that at the outset. She put her family through a terrible ordeal. She endangered others.
I didn't and don't dislike her. I admire her and I admire the work she has done since her release to help the women of Somalia. Still, my admiration is tinged with a bit of sadness that these events occurred.
The book is well worth a listen.