The legendary explorers, heroic figures such as Columbus, Marco Polo, Magellan, and Cook, all were lucky and determined enough to discover something which changed our view of the world, revealing previously unknown continents and cultures. Prepared to go beyond what others saw as reasonable limits, they shared a fortitude which carried them through the severest hardships, whether cold, heat, illness, hunger, or starvation. Their failures are often as illuminating as their successes, revealing what it was that drove them to go beyond the possible in search of the unknown.
In The Oxford Book of Explorers, Robin Hanbury-Tenison, hailed by the Sunday Times of London as "the greatest explorer of the last twenty years," offers the first comprehensive collection of these stalwart adventurers, spanning the ages to capture the emotions and motives of those who took part in the daunting effort to find new worlds. We go to Africa with Doctor Livingston and Mr. Stanley, with Mungo Park and Sir Richard Burton; to Asia with Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, and Vitus Bering; to the Pacific with Magellan, Cook, and Bougainville; and to North and South America with Columbus, Cortes, Pizarro, Henry Hudson, Sir Francis Drake, Charles Darwin, Theodore Roosevelt, and many others. We read passages from Livington's last journals, where he recounts "the mere animal pleasure of travelling in a wild unexplored country." Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt, trekking through South America, describes an attempt to capture electric eels by stampeding wild horses into a pool. We sled with Robert Peary close to the North Pole, through air "as keen and bitter as frozen steel." We join Meriwether Clark as he discovers the Great Falls of the Missouri, comes upon a herd of over a thousand buffalo, and is suddenly in a footrace for his life, chased by a large brown bear. And we climb with Sir Edmund Hillary as he and Sherpa Norgay Tenzing reach the summit of the highest place on earth.
The ultimate travel book, The Oxford Book of Exploration captures the words of those who changed the world through their search for new lands, new peoples, and new adventures. Brimming with the drama of world exploration, it is the perfect book for the armchair traveler.