It has always been a human gift, or curse, to be inquisitive, to explore the limits of the known world – and beyond. But what drove the great explorers to face such unimaginable challenges and even death? This superb work examines the greatest explorers in history, putting their motives, passions and fears in context. Marianne North only began her travels aged 40; Francis Garnier was driven to extreme lengths and near insanity by his search for the Mekong. Edward Wilson twice travelled with Scott to the South Pole, and died on the second attempt. Nain Singh walked thousands of miles to map the forbidden territory of Tibet, using rosary beads as markers. And Yuri Gagarin in his tiny space capsule made the greatest leap of all, leaving the entire planet behind.
Edited by leading explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison, the book is organised thematically with sections on oceans, rivers, Polar ice, land, deserts, life on Earth and new frontiers. Each historical journey is illustrated with beautiful paintings, photographs and maps left by the explorers themselves, while quotations from their own journals and records provide vivid first-hand accounts.