Wheeler, Sara. Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard. New York: Random House, 2002.
Reason read: Apsley George Benet Cherry-Garrard was part of Robert Falcon Scott’s final trip to the Antarctic. Scott was born in March. Read in his honor.
This was the age when everyone wanted to get to a Pole. North Pole or South Pole, it didn’t matter. For Apsley Cherry-Garrard, his expedition was to the South Pole with Robert Falcon Scott (Scott’s second journey).
Antarctica fueled the competitive spirits of Robert Falcon Scott and his expedition as they constantly compared their experiences in the Antarctic to Shackleton’s and kept a close eye on reports of Amundsen’s progress a short distance away. I am not going to review the events of what happened during this particular expedition as everyone is well familiar with Scott’s demise. Let’s focus on Cherry.
After the expedition Cherry’s life was consumed by his experiences. His opinion of Scott changed several different times as the reality of what he lived through sharpened. The expedition gave him purpose in life (writing a book and lecturing about it) while haunting his sleep and stunting his ability to move on from it. He predicted that large government-funded science stations would pop up in the Antarctic. He specifically mentioned Ross Island as a location for such a station. Wheeler does a fantastic job painting a sympathetic portrait of a complicated man.
As an aside, I am trying to imagine the amount of gear one would take to the South Pole. It boggled my mind that Scott would ask Cherry to learn how to type and to bring two typewriters even though no one else knew how to use them.
As another aside, wouldn’t it be terrible to name your pony and then have to eat him later?
Quotes to quote, “If you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore” (Cherry’s own words, p 218) and “They decided to marry before gas masks were permanently strapped to their faces” (p 259).
Author fact: Wheeler is an Arctic explorer in her own right. I have of her books on my Challenge list: Evia, Terra Incognita, Too Close to the Sun, and Travels in a Thin Country.
Book trivia: Wheeler includes a modest set of photographs not only of the expedition but of Cherry’s childhood and later years. My favorite was of Cherry at one of his typewriters.
Nancy said: Pearl called Cherry a “great” biography.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “To the Ends of the Earth: North and South (Antarctica)” (p 235).