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Adventure Magazine

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10 Books for the Beach:
Adventure Page-Turners

Last summer, we named the 100 best adventure books of all time—and you hipped us to what we missed. Here: a few of your favorites, all of which make perfect summer reads.

The July/August 2001 issue of Adventure (buy the back issue) featured our list of the all-time best 100 adventure books, and this June, National Geographic Books publishes a new edition of our number one title—The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard—to launch its Adventure Classics series.

In this bookish spirit, we asked participants in our greatest-book online forum to name any classics we may have missed. Below, ten reader-recommended page-turners.

Our Readers Recommend

Dersu the Trapper, V. K. Arseniev (buy this book)
“The early 20th-century explorations of a Russian expeditionary officer and his native guide, Dersu, through Siberia, Manchuria, and North Korea.” —Paul Doiron

Godforsaken Sea: The True Story of a Race Through the World’s Most Dangerous Waters, Derek Lundy (buy this book)
“Sixteen sailors tackle 60-foot [18-meter] waves and hurricane winds during the Vendée Globe race.” —Mark Pesapane

Gorilla Monsoon, John Long (buy this book)
“A legendary rock climber’s travel tales. It deserves a place on your list based on adrenaline factor alone.” —Andrew Brown

Heart of the Amazon, Yossi Ghinsberg (buy this book)
“A perilous journey down Bolivia’s thundering Rio Tuichi.” —John Chafee

Ice Bound: A Doctor’s Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole, Jerri Nielsen (buy this book)
“A gripping tale.” —Jean Donley

In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick (buy this book)
“The true story of the whale ship that inspired Moby Dick.” —Jim Nielson III

Mawson’s Will: The Greatest Polar Survival Story Ever Written, Lennard Bickel (buy this book)
“A magnificent account—right up there with Shackleton’s story.” —Gordon Verrill

On Foot Through Africa, Ffyona Campbell (buy this book)
“An amazing story of the author’s journey from Cape Town to the Mediterranean.” —Christine DeMeyer

Prisoner of Dunes, Isabelle Eberhardt (buy this book)
“This account of a Swiss woman’s escapades in the Algerian desert deserves to be 101 on your list.” —Jay Lasner

Tomboy Bride: A Woman’s Personal Account of Life in Mining Camps of the West, Harriet Fish Backus (buy this book)
“A pioneer woman’s adventures in Idaho, Colorado, and British Columbia.” —Gail Denkhaus

Don’t see your favorite on our list? Post it on our great books forum >>

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Greatest Adventure Book of All Time

As War and Peace is to novels, so is Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s 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.

—Anthony Brandt

Order the new edition of Worst Journey from National Geographic Books.

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July 2002:
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