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The Greatest Explorers in History (Hardback)

Aviation > Aviation Biography & Memoirs Aviation > Pilots Hobbies & Lifestyle > Biography Military > Biographies P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 17th Century P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Explorers & Adventurers P&S History > Social History P&S History > Social Science & Culture Women of History World History > Europe World History > UK & Ireland

By Michelle Rosenberg
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9781526731005
Published: 14th March 2022



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This is a book about one of the first recorded pilgrims who climbed Mount Sinai; it’s about Amelia Earhart, the famous American aviator whose story and disappearance continues to capture the world’s imagination. It’s the story of a doomed expedition to discover the North West Passage, and the tale of Marco Polo, who remained at the court of the Kublai Khan for an incredible 17 years.

The Greatest Explorers in History brings to life the pioneers in aviation flying thousands of miles with the most basic of maps in open cock-pits, exposed to the elements and the unrelenting smell of petrol fumes. They travel by steamboat, on horse-back, by rickshaw, motorbike, train, swim with piranhas, embark into black nothingness in new space craft, explore by jeep, yachts, tea boats and elephants, disguise themselves as men, take canoes and use innovative, advanced technological scuba equipment.

Going where in many cases, no man or woman had ever gone before, some women featured in The Greatest Explorers in History were often denied respect, acknowledgement or recognition and they determined to break the ‘mens club’ mentality of global exploration from which they were excluded.

Marco Polo:

“This desert is reported to be so long that it would take a year to go from end to end; and at the narrowest point it takes a month to cross it. It consists entirely of mountains and sands and valleys. There is nothing at all to eat.”

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a book about some of the greatest explorers in history; from ancient times to the present. From long-distance aviators traveling across continents to mountaineers climbing the tallest peaks and from voyagers discovering new lands to the first explorers, this book covers every adventure by man. While the majority of the explorations were from modern times, there were many truly remarkable tales from ancient times that many don’t know about. This book is a tribute to the determination and hardships encountered by the explorers in their path to glory.

>From one of the first recorded pilgrims who climbed Mount Sinai; to Amelia Earhart, the famous American aviator. From the story of breaking the record of “Around the world in 60 days” to the doomed expedition to Antarctica, from Columbus to Marco Polo, this book covers the stories of all the legendary travelers and their fantastic voyages.

The 50 Greatest Explorers in History documents the challenges in early age exploration when it was tough and expensive and often life-threatening. The book is nicely divided into women and men explorers and many unknown women explorers are given their due.

This book covers about 50 different explorers – some ancient and some modern,– in a series of short biographies. Each biography includes a brief overview of their life, their adventure, and some rare pictures with extra detail on their adventures. Some of my favorites to read about were Nellie Bly, Marco Polo, Edmund Hillary, and James Cook. There are many quoted sources so anyone interested in any particular explorer can read about him in-depth.

Overall, If you love reading about real-life adventures, you will really enjoy this book.

NetGalley, Sumit RK

It's unfortunate that more publicity or writing goes doesn’t go to renowned explorers because when you read some of the stories and adventures these men and women attempt is truly staggering. In a number of cases, you could say that what some of these people try to attempt is like certain death, so there has to be a little admiration that these people attempt these feats. This book is divided into separate chapters for each explorer, and what is actually a nice thing is that the women and men are split up, I personally think this helps put both on a par with each other rather than the women being overshadowed. I also liked the fact that the ‘space’ explorers and ‘South Pole’ explorers were put into separate sections too.

It is surprising how many of these explorers are easily recognisable such as Amelia Earhart, Ernest Shackleton, Meriwether Lewis, David Livingstone, Nellie Bly, Marco Polo & Neil Armstrong to name just a few. It was also nice to see such an array of names going back a couple of thousand years right up to the 20th century. A subject that gets little converge, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a really good read, with some examples for further reading. A book I would recommend to others.

Read the full review here

The History Fella

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I found myself riveted to this book. It covered some of the greatest explorers in history. While the majority of them fell into more modern times, there were some examples from the faraway past as well as the more recent centuries. All of them were interesting people. They searched for something that nobody else had seen or done. They prevailed through immense difficulties, sometimes before they set off on whatever quest they had set. Often it was in the pursuit of the quest they encountered the most horrendous of dangers, sometimes leading to their own demise.

The thought that they might lose their lives seldom seemed to bother them. There was something that they wanted to achieve and they would do whatever it took to get it. Thanks to their courage and resolve many of the things we accept as the norm might not have been discovered. Many of them, certainly in the past several centuries have been members of one exploration society or another so there was often competition that pushed them further and higher.

I am glad they separated the men from the women. The women, simply by virtue of the societal norms that held them back for so long, had the harder road. It is a shame, however, that the chapters on the women were, by large, shorter than than ones on the men. I think that reflects more on the paucity of material from which to research more than any bias. It is telling that in a couple of stories where both sexes were represented, the female was either ignored or minimized regardless of contribution. I think, if anything, it makes those women greater heroines.

Like many of the books from this publisher, it is set up in bite sized chapters that you can read all at one or in snippets. Five purrs and two paws up.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“The great and almost only comfort about being a woman, is that one can always pretend to be more stupid than one is and no one is surprised.” – Dame Freya Stark.

Freya Stark is one of many explorers I want to know more about after reading this book. It covers about 50 different explorers – some ancient, some modern, including some involved in space exploration – in a series of potted biographies. I really liked the way it was laid out: each biography includes a picture of the explorer, some quotes from them, and a brief overview of their life, with extra detail on their adventures. Plenty of sources were given, and it’s easy enough to find more books about each individual person. Some of my favourites to read about were Emma Gatewood, Nellie Bly, Edmund Hillary and Sir John Franklin, and I especially appreciated the section on polar exploration as it’s one of my particular interests. This is a really nice book to dip into or read from beginning to end.

NetGalley, Amelia Edwards

As featured in: Bookshelf


About Michelle Rosenberg

Michelle Rosenberg is a writer and passionate women’s historian with a great fondness for her two daughters, bawdy humour and inappropriate language (in that order). She lives in Hertfordshire with her family, two overweight Spaniels and ever-growing book collection.

Marco Polo dies in Venice

8th January 1324

Marco Polo died on 8 January 1324 in Venice. He was a Venetian explorer, writer and merchant who travelled extensively along the Silk Road between 1271 and 1295. The popular hide-and-find game ‘Marco Polo’ is of course named after him and his travels.

American aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the 1st woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, landing at Burry Port, Wales

18th June 1928

First aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937, she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.

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