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Into the Abyss

Benedict Allen

A glimpse at the motivation and experiences of some of history’s most intrepid explorers.

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Why do explorers put themselves in dangerous situations? And, once the worst possible situation occurs, how do they find the resources to survive?

In answering these questions, Benedict Allen weaves a series of tales from his own experience as well as that of other explorers including Columbus, Cortez, Scott, Shakelton, Stanley, Livingstone and their modern counterparts: Joe Simpson and Ranulf Fiennes.

Critic Reviews

What keeps the reader hooked is Allen's closely observed depiction of the tundra: small communities riven with alcoholism; abandoned Soviet outposts; corridors of tall whale bones planted centuries ago in the thick ice; and the Chukchi, a people vulnerable to modernity but at ease in the world's hardest climate.

New Statesman
Critic Reviews

it's a fascinating collection of ideas about how we manage when life gets extreme. It is riddled with information - from the history of the Chukchi people in Siberia to excerpts from other explorers diaries ... he writes ... beautifully, so even though, in th end, you're not much clearer on how humans survive extremes, you are at least clear, that, like Allen, we seem to have an enormous capacity to do so.

Critic Reviews

This invigorating account of Allen's attempt to cross the Bering Strait over the ice needs no sexing up. Not only does it chronicle an amazing feat of endurence but it gives a rare glimpse into Chukotka, Russia's most norht-easterly reagion.

Critic Reviews

He's no fusty explorer, and writes with a wit that's as dry as the snow that envelopes his world ... Speaks volumes about the human spirit's insatiable appetite.

Critic Reviews

Travelogue interspersed with snippets on the history of the region, native peoples, pioneering Arctic expeditions and the rearing of sled dogs, Into the Abyss lures the reader in with its author's relaxed prose, sharp eye for atmospheric detail and amusing self-awareness ... what was intended to be a journey of introspection and self-analysis becomes a far more expansive insight into both human relationships and what makes man struggle through adversity.


Benedict Allen is one of the UK’s most prominent explorers. For the past twenty-five years he has conducted solo expeditions through the Amazon jungle, along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and across Mongolia’s Gobi Desert without the use of GPS, satellite phone or other means of outside support, as we as having written ten books of his adventures and editing The Faber…

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