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Historical Atlas of Expeditions

Historical Atlas of Expeditions

by Karen Farrington

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When Sir Edmund Hillary made his famous comment about climbing Mount Everest ‘because it was there’, he summed up the raison d’être behind every explorer’s drive to leave safe boundaries and tackle the unknown. The thrill and honor of being the first to explore any geographical region outweighed the enormous risks for those with a


When Sir Edmund Hillary made his famous comment about climbing Mount Everest ‘because it was there’, he summed up the raison d’être behind every explorer’s drive to leave safe boundaries and tackle the unknown. The thrill and honor of being the first to explore any geographical region outweighed the enormous risks for those with a special brand of courage and imagination. Adventurers from Strabo, the Roman explorer in the Mediterranean, to Marco Polo in China, David Livingstone in Central Africa and Robert Falcon Scott in the Antarctic all shared the common traits of bravery, valor and perseverance in their endeavors to make known the unknown. They became the envy of others and won a place in history, their tales of adventure and hardship at once fascinating, fulfilling, and strangely perplexing. Historical Atlas of Expeditions brings this pioneer breed of men, and women, to life in thrilling detail.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Attractively illustrated, this atlas is bound to delight students who are weary of old, dry textbook stories of the world's leading explorers. The chapters, which are divided by geographical region, contain maps, biographical information on the explorers, timelines, information on the various cultures and illustrations, making it a good resource for classrooms and teachers. Some of the names are familiar--Pizarro, Sir Walter Raleigh, Daniel Boone, Ernest Shackleton--but others profiled are not usually included in standard history books. For example, Mary Kingsley left England and traveled to Africa, where she helped care for Boer prisoners of war, writing three books about that continent before dying of typhoid. Sir Randulph Fiennes explored Antarctica at the advanced age of 60, despite frostbitten toes. In the 1870s, Nikolai Przwalski wanted to be one of the few Europeans to reach the palace of the Dalai Lama and ended up traveling to the most remote regions of Tibet, refusing to return to Russia despite illness and the harsh terrain. Farrington's writing is lively, and she makes these explorations interesting, but the sheer number of explorers discussed results in descriptions that are necessarily superficial. A good tool for junior high and high school students who would otherwise learn little about these explorers, this book may not sell as vigorously to adults, although clearly it will benefit from the ongoing adventure-book craze. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
This review was written and published to address two historical atlases, one about Expeditions and the other about Exploration, from Checkmark Books/Facts on File. These beautifully illustrated atlases contain a wealth of information about people who ventured into uncharted territory for reasons that range from anthropological curiosity and scientific inquiry to greed, conquest, and religious conversion of the natives. The large format and liberal illustrations and maps make the books fun to browse. Each chapter is preceded by a short introduction and a two-page map relating to that chapter's subject matter, such as Africa from 1600 or Sea Routes to the Indies, with a list of explorers and their color-coded routes. The atlases are complementary in that their entries do not overlap, with the exception of Francisco Pizarro, whose entries in both volumes have different focuses. The Expeditions book covers a wider period, beginning with Egyptian sailors in 3200 B.C. and ending with contemporary Antarctic explorer Ranulph Fiennes. After two chapters on pre-1600 travels that includes Marco Polo and the Vikings, the post-1600 chapters are organized geographically. Asia covers the travels of Vitus Bering; Africa discusses Livingstone and Burton; the Americas covers Lewis and Clark and Darwin; the Arctic and Antarctic includes Peary, Byrd, and Shackleton; and Australasia talks about Tasman and Cook. Most entries are two pages and feature the expeditioners themselves, but a few topical entries such as the Silk Road, Jesuit Missionaries, and the Crusades are also included. In covering the "Age of Discovery," the explorers book has a narrower focus in time and geography in that all forty-oneexplorers described were Italian, Portuguese, English, French, or Spanish—although their travels took them around the globe. The explorations described here are almost all nautical. In addition to the biographical entries for Columbus, Magellan, da Gama, Vespucci, Drake, Cabot, Cartier, Balboa, and Cabeza de Vaca, this book contains many topical entries, such as pre-Columbian Caribbean cultures, India in 1498, the Conquistadors, and Japan in the sixteenth century as well as entries on navigational instruments, types of ships, and the cultures of the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas. Both books are written engagingly and objectively. When explorers became brutal slayers of native populations, this is stated. When they exhibited bravery, skill, or tolerance for native peoples, these facts too are stated. This reference set provides fascinating reading for browsers and report-writers alike. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Chronology. Appendix. 2000, Checkmark Books/Facts on File, 192p, Ages 12 to Adult. Reviewer: Florence H. Munat SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Children's Literature
From earliest time to present day come scores of biographical sketches and nail-biting tales of explorations of frontier lands. Why do humans explore? In the earliest times their aims were to seek the essentials of food and water. Later, the glow of riches, power, adventure, excitement or curiosity became driving forces. The first recorded voyage by sea was made by the Egyptians in 3200 B.C. Vikings from Scandinavia sailed to four continents, including North America, from 790 to 1100 A.D. Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo and Francisco Pizarro were a few of the men who traveled vast distances despite great perils of hostile terrain, food shortages and disease. These early explorers would sometimes be gone for years at a time with absolutely no means of communication. Nikolai Przewalski, a Russian soldier, failed in his attempt to be the first outsider to glimpse the palace of the Dalai Lama, but he is memorialized, as his name was given to a rare breed of Mongolian horse. Alexandria David-Neel took a spiritual journey and became an accomplished writer of her escapades in Tibet. David Livingstone's explorations of Africa became legendary and Charles Darwin sparked much controversy after his studies in South America. Many adventurers flocked to America and Australia. Others such as Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen did not reach their goals at the poles, but are remembered for their heroic attempts. In exemplary text come compelling accounts which are sure to inspire wanderlust in readers. Excellent photographs, drawings and maps accompany each section. A thorough index is included. Farrington's work is richly detailed and would be an excellent source for cross curriculum studies. 2000,Checkmark/Facts on File, $35.00. Ages 9 up. Reviewer: Laura Hummel
Library Journal
Farrington, a former journalist and author of books on assassinations, religion, and a variety of other topics, has assembled a beautifully illustrated but highly selective atlas devoted to world exploration. She has successfully avoided a Eurocentric viewpoint, yet her introduction does not reveal why some explorers are included while others are not. None of the great Portuguese navigators is found here; nor are Magellan, Cort s, De Soto, Cartier, or Cabot. Those who did get included are grouped into the following chapters: "Early Expeditions," "Travels Before 1600," "Asia from 1600," "Africa from 1600," "The Americas from 1600," "Arctic and Antarctic," and "Australasia." The value of this atlas as a reference tool is greatly enhanced by a special section, "Biographical Details," which features 210 explorers, geographers, and cartographers with references to where they appear in the text. A geographically arranged "Time Chart of Exploration" is also provided. While this atlas may prove useful for school history projects, Oxford Atlas of Exploration (LJ 1/98) is a far better choice for more comprehensive coverage.--Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., FL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
The stories told here of explorers and expeditions from the earliest times<-->ancient Egypt and the Phoenicians<-->to the present, with the experience of fascination and danger that they represent, contain all the elements necessary to capture the reader's imagination. Farrington (an author and journalist) is adept at telling these stories, which are directed at the lay reader, relating the personal and larger context that caused people to travel beyond their known world. Oversize: 9x12<">. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Karen Farrington's Historical Atlas of EXpeditions follows the journey of adventurers around the world, using the atlas format to provide a set of maps on famous eXxplorers, their eXxpeditions, and their encounters. From the machines they used to the concepts they based their travels on, this provides timelines, maps and plenty of easy ataglance details.

Product Details

Facts on File, Incorporated
Publication date:
Historical Atlas Series
Product dimensions:
8.97(w) x 11.99(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt


There was a time, not too long ago, when words like "remote" and "unexplored" applied to most of the planet. Humankind's reasons for conquering the surrounding wilderness were numerous. In earliest times the aims of explorers were simple and straightforward—find new sources of water, food, and other essential commodities. Gradually, other motivating factors arose—the quest for fabulous riches, the necessity for trade, the desire for greater power and the subjugation of others, piousness of religious conversion, escape, excitement, or just plain curiosity.

    It is this last human trait, however, that has probably contributed most to our drive to explore; whether mounting expeditions to cross hostile terrain, navigate unfriendly oceans, or tame impassable mountain barriers, wanting to know what lies on the other side has been irresistible. Without the desire for knowledge and the need to prove a point mankind may well have stayed put in small clusters and remained tribal in nature.

    Throughout history, those who have gone awandering have been out of contact with their own kind, sometimes for years on end. Only recently have explorers benefitted from technological devices: radio, satellite links, geo-positional navigation, email. When Marco Polo journeyed to China no one at home in Venice knew whether he was dead or alive, until he returned. We take communications for granted today, so it is difficult to understand how early explorers ever managed. When Americans landed on the Moon, the whole planet watched and heard the astronauts speak on television. Theachievement of this expedition was certainly no lesser than that of the Polos, but how much more comforting it must have been for the NASA astronauts to be in contact with Houston.

    One of the problems with looking at any historic period is that it is impossible to see events as they would have appeared to those experiencing them. To most modern readers, the values and motives of these explorers from the past are almost meaningless, since they frequently bear little relation to those of modern society. We have become used to the idea that modern expeditions are largely scientific in their purpose and may feel inclined to see greed—as well as curiosity—as the prime motivation behind the treks that many detailed in this book undertook. Yet we should not forget that after the conquest of the Moon came the desire to mine its ores for financial gain—once the scientists are done, commerce moves in. In fact this is really very similar to the way expeditions prior to the 20th century worked out.

    In the course of discovery there have been tales of heroism and also of heroic failure. Along with every triumph came a catastrophe of epic proportions. Thousands of souls have been sacrificed on the pyre of such enterprise, the optimism and sense of adventure of each one cruelly dashed. As this book shows, some great discoveries have resulted from shrewd cunning, others have been happy accidents. Human endeavor has rarely been as animated and arousing as in the course of conquering the unknown world. To learn how mankind has brought about a world without physical frontier is to understand human nature itself and what makes it tick.

Meet the Author

KAREN FARRINGTON is an ex-Fleet Street journalist who worked for several years at London’s Old Bailey. She became a fulltime author in 1987 and has contributed to numerous publications on military history. Her published works include, ‘Witness to World War II’, ‘The History of Religion’ and ‘Natural Disasters’.

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