The Explorers: Great Adventurers Tell Their Own Stories of Discovery

The Explorers: Great Adventurers Tell Their Own Stories of Discovery

The Explorers: Great Adventurers Tell Their Own Stories of Discovery

The Explorers: Great Adventurers Tell Their Own Stories of Discovery

Excerpt

Exploration and explorers always seem romantic. We picture a lone man--or, at most, a small band--heroically winning past obstacles to a noble goal.

Yet this emphasis on romantic adventure only incites the fury of the professional explorer and his colleagues. The explorer himself is chagrined that a trivial incident is played up while the significant part of his work is overlooked. Meanwhile, his friends and professional equals denounce him as a faker, a publicity hound, or, what may be worse, a bungler.

To the experts, adventures demonstrate incompetence. Someone goofed. A properly run expedition will have very few adventures. But if ignorance or bravado leads an explorer to annoy a native or an animal, or violate a safety rule, or neglect maintenance of his equipment, or misjudge his supplies . . . then an adventure may result. And all the expedition's skill may be called upon to extricate the goofer from disaster while productive duties are laid aside.

Yet exploration, by definition, requires men to live and work in strange, usually hostile, territory. The most careful plans cannot foresee every difficulty. The most conscientious attention to detail cannot always forestall the unexpected. And, to ordinary citizens at home, the mere fact of travel into unfamiliar corners of the world is itself an adventure.

In this book, the author has selected excerpts from the actual accounts written by various explorers. Here we can relive adventures, ranging from attacks by natives to lonely treks across harsh desert. But more important is the revealing glimpse into the explorers' thoughts and hopes which we get by reading their own words.

The merits of any exploration must be judged in the light of the problems of the day in which it was carried out, and in the light of . . .

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