________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 8 . . . . December 9, 2005


Explorers: The Most Exciting Voyages of Discovery-From the African Expeditions to the Lunar Landing.

Andrea De Porti.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2005.
184 pp., cloth, $49.95.
ISBN 1-55407-101-1.

Subject Headings:
Explorers-History-19th century.
Explorers-History-20th century.
Discoveries in geography.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


The scientific results of the first expedition Sella accompanied (in which several peaks were scaled and photographed for the first time) were extraordinary and earned Sella recognition from both the Royal Geographical Society and the Russian government. A second expedition, organized for the following year, was similarly successful, and a third followed in 1896. Sella and his companions scaled heights and penetrated to remote villages, where the memory of their visit remains vivid. Above all, they took thousands of photographs, amazing for their clarity of detail and startlingly evocative. For many years they constituted a precious guide for both climbers and cartographers of the region, and today still bears witness to the primordial beauty of Earth’s rocky surface and the light upon it.


Featuring 53 incredible stories, this book takes readers on a marvelous voyage of discovery that spans all seven continents. The stories cover major expeditions - of land, sea and air- of the last 150 years, starting with Burton’s and Speke’s search for the source of the Nile in 1857 and ending with the Apollo missions which saw a total of 12 astronauts set foot on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972. De Porti has selected the stories, not only on the basis of their historical or scientific merit, but also because of their captivating and intriguing nature. The explorers featured represent both genders, many different nationalities and professions, and both successes and failures, but what they share is a fierce determination, insatiable curiosity, a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to venture into worlds unknown, sometimes even risking death. Some endured disease, blindness and encounters with dangerous animals, while others battled government adversaries, forces of nature, such as icebergs, powerful waves and frigid temperatures, to name a few, and near starvation. Though readers will undoubtedly recognize some famous names - Sir Edmund Hillary, for example, who climbed Mount Everest “because it was there,” and Neil Armstrong, who made history when he became the first man to walk on the moon - some of the lesser known names and the expeditions with which they are associated provide fascinating tales. Expeditions range from Katherine Routledge’s desire to solve the mystery of the stone faces on Easter Island to Maria Reiche’s attempt to solve the puzzle of the plains of Nazca, where ancient Peruvians drew patterns of lines and geometric shapes on the ground which can only be seen from the air, and to Sven Hedin who traced Marco Polo’s route on the Silk Road and discovered the sites of ancient cities.

     The table of contents is presented in gate-fold style with photographs of the various explorers above the chapter headings. In fact, there are several four-page gate-folds throughout the book, creating large posters. (A word of caution: the book must be closed carefully so as not to damage the gate-fold spreads.) The text is suitable for better readers, and, though it sustains their interest, the real “stars of the show” are the hundreds of fabulous and rare sepia-toned archival photographs, maps, prints and drawings. Brief bios of the explorers are provided, and often, some of their journal notes as well. A bibliography and a lengthy index of names and places are included.

     History buffs and armchair adventurers alike will find this book to be an absolutely fascinating read.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.