On John Franklin's 1820 expedition to find the North-West Passage, Michel Teroahaute cannibalized two team members and was preparing a third when he was caught and killed. When Rene la Salle set off for the Mississippi Delta in 1684, he missed the target by five hundred miles, but on landing immediately built a prison for those who fell asleep on watch. Consummate storyteller Fergus Fleming brings together these and forty-three other gripping stories in Off the Map.
Spanning three ages of exploration, it is a uniquely accessible and supremely entertaining history of adventure and endeavor. Off the Map recounts episodes both classic and forgotten: the "classics" are brought to life in more vivid colors than ever before; the lesser-known stories offer accounts of feats that are no less heroic or extraordinary but have long lain hidden in the undergrowth of history. From the Renaissance golden age of Columbus, da Gama, and Magellan to the twentieth-century heroics of polar explorers such as Peary, Scott, and Amundsen, this is an unforgettable journey into the annals of adventure.
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No activity embraces risk like exploration. Success means glory and wealth; failure most likely entails an undocumented demise thousands of miles from home. This sturdy work recounts the memorable circumstances of history's greatest journeys of discovery. Former Time-Life Books editor Fleming (Killing Dragons) has mastered the craft of imparting huge swaths of information in an accessible way. Thematically(and sensibly) divided into three sections covering "Reconnaissance," "Inquiry" and "Endeavour," the book's 45 accounts lie at the intersection of individual obsessiveness and collective, often imperial, ambition. Whether elaborating on von Humboldt's accidental exploitation of guano (bird manure fertilizer), Henry Hudson's encounter with a mermaid or the French search for a Saharan field of emeralds, Fleming's writing is informative and vivid, never stinting on such basic human drives as greed, glory and geopolitical domination. As the book inexorably moves from 1271 (Marco Polo) to 1928 (Umberto Mobile, pioneering North Pole pilot), the narratives inevitably shift from such weighty matters as the modern European explorations of China, North America, India and Brazil to geographical poles and inaccessible peaks. Almost comprehensive enough to serve as a reference, this densely packed tome supplies a bewildering wealth of information about some of humanity's most compelling adventures. B&w photos, maps.
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Fleming presents 45 narratives of unparalleled achievements in the long history of exploration, dividing his the book into three eras--the age of reconnaissance, the age of inquiry, the age of endeavor--and beginning each chapter with an essay. Among the explorers are such famous names as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Henry Hudson, Lewis and Clark, W. E. Parry, Stanley and Livingstone, Peary and Cook, Scott and Amundsen, and Ernest Shackleton. Less-known adventurers include Ibn Battuta, who traveled across North Africa to the Middle East; Rene La Salle, who helped colonize the American wilderness; John Ross, who spent four years in the Arctic; Robert Burke and William Wills, who crossed the Australian continent; George Mallory and Sandy Irvine, who climbed Mount Everest (and did not survive); and Umberto Nobile, who flew over the North Pole in a dirigible. With 24 pages of black-and-white illustrations, the book will allow more-timid readers to experience achievements beyond their wildest dreams. George Cohen
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