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Extreme Classics: The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time
A list we had hoped our readers would enjoy turned out to be one of the most popular features in Adventure's five-year history. You asked for it—repeatedly—now you got it: the 100 Greatest in all their glory.

80. Journal of a Trapper, by Osborne Russell (1914) Angry wounded grizzly bears, boats made out of buffalo hide, fights with the Blackfeet, semistarvation—it's all here, the life of a trapper in the Rockies in the 1830s and '40s, as told by one of the survivors, who kept this raw journal.
Narrative Press, 2001.

81. Full Tilt, by Dervla Murphy (1965) In the winter of 1963, Murphy got on her bicycle and crossed Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Himalaya to reach India—by herself. She was not afraid, she says. Nevertheless, she carried a pistol, and needed it.
Overlook Press, 1987.

82. Terra Incognita, by Sara Wheeler (1996) Now that Antarctica has been explored, is there anything more to say about it? Ask Wheeler, who went down to find out and came back to write this excellent book, in which she recounts some of the old Antarctic stories and tells many new ones, too.
Modern Library, 1999.

83. We Die Alone, by David Howarth (1955) In 1943, Norwegian commandos sailed into a Nazi trap on the northern coast of Norway, and only Jan Baalsrud survived. This book tells the story of Baalsrud's escape across the snowbound Norwegian mountains and of the brave villagers who helped him. It's a great survival tale, and the good guys win.
Lyons Press, 1999.

Book Cover: Kabloona 84. Kabloona, by Gontran de Poncins (1941) "If you see a man in a blizzard bending over a rock you may be sure it is me and that I am lost." So says de Poncins in this intense and very beautiful book about his sojourn among the Inuit in the Canadian north, where he goes to assuage a restlessness in his soul. This is his story of finding himself.
Graywolf Press, 1996.

Book Cover: Conquistadors of the Useless 85. Conquistadors of the Useless, by Lionel Terray (1961) Terray's father once told him he'd have to be crazy to climb a mountain, "when there isn't even a hundred franc note to be picked up at the summit." Terray nonetheless spent his life making spectacular climbs, which he describes with French panache in this wonderful autobiography.
Mountaineers, 2001.

86. Carrying the Fire, by Michael Collins (1974) An astronaut's life is adventurous by definition. Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins's account of his own is clean, often funny at his own expense, modestly heroic. The best firsthand account of spaceflight so far, it tells us what it was like up there, encapsulated in the infinity of space, how it felt to fall off the edge of the known world.
Cooper Square, 2001.

Book Cover: Adventures in the Wilderness 87. Adventures in the Wilderness, by William H. H. Murray (1869) The wilderness is the Adirondacks, and Murray's book about camping, fishing, running rapids, and generally having a blast there helped begin a national craze to get out in the open.
Syracuse University Press, 1989.

88. The Mountains of My Life, by Walter Bonatti (1998) The great Italian climber was always a loner and controversial among his countrymen, but no one denies his greatness. This edition includes his persuasive defense of his much criticized role in the first ascent of K2—it's a high-altitude detective story. And he writes like a dream.
Modern Library, 2001.

89. Great Heart, by James West Davidson and John Rugge (1988) An impenetrable wilderness, death by starvation, the intrepid men and women of Labrador. This book recounts the tale of a failed 1903 expedition into the region's heart and then of two more attempts by rival groups, in 1905, to finish what the first one started. The authors retraced the original routes for this powerful account.
Kodansha, 1997.

90. Journal of the Voyage to the Pacific, by Alexander Mackenzie (1801) Ten years before Lewis and Clark, the Canadian Mackenzie, traveling with a group of voyageurs, became the first white man to cross North America. The story of their struggle to take their birch-bark canoe against the current up the Peace River is worth a book in itself.
Dover Publications, 1996.

91. The Valleys of the Assassins, by Freya Stark (1934) Amateur archaeologist Stark takes the usual British attitude to adventure—What, me worry?—as she crosses vast empty places in Persia, dodging bandits, dodging the police, and "passing through fear to the absence of fear." A fine memoir.
Modern Library, 2001.

92. The Silent World, by Jacques Cousteau (1953) Here is Jacques Cousteau before he became, well, Jacques Cousteau. This is his first book, about the invention of scuba gear and those first, daring dives with the new equipment.
National Geographic Books, 2004.

93. Alaska Wilderness, by Robert Marshall (1956) The great conservationist Bob Marshall spent much of the 1930s exploring Alaska's Brooks Range. His book is double-barreled, full of his transcendent delight in wild places and full of adventure. By page 28, he is already recording this comment in his journal: "This may be the last thing I ever write." Happily, it wasn't.
University of California Press, 1956.

94. Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians, by George Catlin (1841) Catlin spent six years among the Plains Indians, and his paintings of them are world renowned. His book should be, too. He was a brave man—ready to take on a grizzly unaided—and a sensitive one. His book glows with respect for these people. Much of what we know about their lives we know because of him. Read, and give thanks.
Dover Publications, in two volumes, 1973.

95. I Married Adventure, by Osa Johnson (1940) And so she did, when she wed wildlife photographer Martin Johnson, who took her to Africa and the Pacific and into a very exciting life indeed. She tells their story in straight-on American gee-whiz style; it would have the feel of Oklahoma!, say, if those weren't real, and very angry, elephants chasing them up trees.
Kodansha, 1997.

96. The Descent of Pierre Saint-Martin, by Norbert Casteret (1954) Pierre Saint-Martin, in the Pyrenees, is one of the world's deepest caves. Casteret was one of the great pioneering speleologists. It took three years to explore this cave system to its end; one man died, and the story is a thriller.
Out of print, but secondhand copies are available.

97. The Crystal Horizon, by Reinhold Messner (1982) In 1980, Messner climbed Everest alone—without oxygen. Though he is perhaps a better climber than writer, his story of the ascent still resonates: From then on, mountaineers would be asked not whether they reached a summit but how.
Mountaineers, 1998.

98. Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River, by John Kirk Townsend (1839) Townsend, a naturalist, tagged along on a fur-trading expedition to Oregon and writes with great exuberance about his adventures among Indians, grizzlies, buffalo, and mountain men.
Oregon State University Press, 1999.

99. Grizzly Years, by Doug Peacock (1990) Peacock is an ex-Green Beret medic, a sometime wilderness guide, and the model for the ecoterrorist Hayduke in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. He's also one of the world's leading experts on the grizzly and has had more encounters with these lords of the wilderness than probably any other living American. There's nothing quite like walking through a landscape loaded with bear.
Henry Holt, 1996.

100. One Man's Mountains, by Tom Patey (1971) In climbing, or any true adventure, if you're not having fun, what's the point? Patey knew better than anyone how to have fun in the hills. This is a wonderful collection of his short pieces, full of climbing feats and honest humor. He died young, doing what he loved.
Mountaineers, 1998.

Introduction  |  1-19  |  20-39  |  40-59  |  60-79  |  80-100


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May 2004



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