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!
One of my favorites. A must read NOW. Amazing writing, outstanding performance by Simon Vance, overall one of the most charming book I've listened to this year.
It is a really interesting, quirky and, at times, laugh-out loud funny memoir of one couple's experiences living on tiny island in the South Pacific. I made my husband listen even before I finished.
I don't know why I didn't listen sooner. Don't pass this up!
Retired Marine combat officer now enjoying life in Southwestern Wisconsin. With my wife, Crystal, we own and operate a portrait studio, True Lives Studio, in Bloomington, WI
I really like Peter Hessler's writing and find it a true reflection of my experiences in China an a accurate account of Chinese attitudes. River Town was a great book and I enjoyed it..however, Country Driving, although a well written book is narrated by Peter Berkrot. He does zero justice to the work..remember the Public Service films about crawling under your desk for a nuclear attack....this guy has the same voice, inflection and makes it just about as exciting...pick it up at the library or bookstore but skip this version..