Cover image for Explorations : great moments of discovery from the Royal Geographical Society
Explorations : great moments of discovery from the Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society (Great Britain)
Uniform Title:
Royal Geographical Society illustrated
Publication Information:
New York : Artisan, 2002.

Physical Description:
339 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 32 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Royal Geographical Society illustrated. London : Scriptum Editions, 1997.

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G138.5 .R69 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

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Since earliest days, humans have found it impossible to resist the allure of the unknown. The reasons are as different as the people are. Here, in one volume, Explorations captures in photographs and interviews the expeditions and emotions of some of the most daring adventurers of the last century.

Organized according to geographical region, and accompanied by essays by such famous names as Wilfred Thesiger, Richard Leakey, and Edmund Hillary, the photographs offer a fascinating glimpse of the world's varied landscapes and habitats, its peoples, and ways of life. Some of the pictures recall historic moments in time--Scott finding Amundsen's empty tent at the South Pole, Tenzing Norgay photographed by Hillary on the peak of Everest, the ferryman who took David Livingstone across the river on the last day of his life. Other pictures are remarkable as records of vanished or vanishing peoples, or simply as beautiful pieces of art.

The history of the Royal Geographic Society and that of photography were born in the same decade. The invention of photography became an indispensable tool for explorers and travelers, enabling them to make a visual record of what they saw. Many of the photographs they took have found their way into the society's priceless photographic collection and form the basis of this stunning book.

Author Notes

Mountain climber and explorer Sir Edmund Hillary was born in Auckland, New Zealand on July 20, 1919. He became one of the first two men to successfully climb to the top of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. He and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norkay, reached the top of Everest on May 29, 1953. Hillary wrote of this conquest in a chapter titled "Final Assault," found in The Conquest of Everest by Sir John Hunt. Queen Elizabeth knighted both of them during the coronation festivities of 1953. Before the Everest triumph, Hillary had written several books about his adventures on other famous expeditions, including several climbs of other Himalayan peaks.

In 1957, he established New Zealand's Scott Base in Antarctica and led the first vehicles overland to the South Pole. In June 1960, Hillary announced that in the fall he would attempt an ascent of the 27,790-foot Malaka Peak in Nepal, about 20 miles east of Everest. He had two objectives: "...first, to determine the effects of high altitude on climbers not equipped with oxygen equipment and, second, to make further efforts to track down the 'Abominable Snowman'" (New York Times). The results, which were negligible, are told in High in the Thin Cold Air (1962), which Hillary co-authored with Desmond Doig. This expedition did, however, establish a school at Khumjung, which made up for some of the other disappointments. In 1985 Hillary was named ambassador to India. He died on January 11, 2008 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography) Sir Edmund Hillary is the first person to climb Mt. Everest; subsequent to his ascent he was knighted by the Queen of England.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Royal Geographical Society was founded in 1830; since then, it has accumulated a half million photographs relating to exploration. The history of the RGS is practically coterminous with the history of the development of photography, born within a few years of one another. This book's wonders fall into two basic categories: landscapes and portraits. In the former group, standouts include an otherworldly shot of Kashmir's Lower Remo Glacier and a gorgeous 1911 view of an Antarctic grotto. The subjects of the "highly exotic" portraits have an understandable tendency to assume austere, dignified poses; the truly memorable pictures break from that mold, such as an 1880s shot of crucified Burmese thieves or an undated photo of a legless South African confronting a baboon. Not to be overlooked, however, are the staggering pictures of humankind's more astonishing edifices, including the Great Wall of China and a Yemeni palace improbably perched on a rock. Brief essays by Hillary, Leakey and others frame some images. This book depends for its success on the boundless variegation of the natural world-and of human society-which is to say that its success is wholly assured. It's divided into geographical sections-everywhere but Europe is amply represented-and each section is arranged chronologically. As readers move forward through time within each section, the later color photos, while dazzling, fail to convey the crude shock of first encounter that the earlier efforts inevitably deliver. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Lord JellicoeDr. John HemmingMichael FreemanSir Edmund HillaryDr. Richard LeakeySir Ranulph T-W-Fiennes Bt, OBESir Wilfred ThesigerChristina DodwellDr. John HemmingRobin Hanbury-Tenison OBE
Forewordp. 7
Introductionp. 8
The world through a lensp. 12
Asia: land of silk and spicesp. 18
Africa: the dark continentp. 94
The Poles: to the ends of the earthp. 160
The Middle East: desert and oasisp. 196
Australasia: uncharted southlandsp. 230
The Americas: new worldsp. 266
Selected biographiesp. 324