Before the turn of the 19th century, ventures into uncharted lands required material or spiritual reward to justify the perils of shipwreck and hostile natives, and dangers yet unkwn. Until recent times exploration for the sake of kwledge alone was rare, and mostly undertaken by intrepid traders, gold seekers and valiant Christian missionaries. In this book the author selects more than 150 of those he considers to be the most influential and unusual journeys of discovery, setting each firmly in its historical context. This book chronicles the personalities and motivations, the conditions that had to be endured, and the contribution that exploration has made to our kwledge of the world. It is replete with extraordinary personalities: the heroic adventurers who set out into the unkwn, battling against the elements in order to commit their findings to journals and maps; the pioneers who risked everything in search of fabled riches; and the explorers who set out to conquer the deserts, poles and oceans of the globe. It book is organised simply and chrologically, beautifully illustrated with contemporary maps, paintings, journal entries and other artefacts, and with entertaining asides and sometimes urthodox interpretations based on the author's lifetime study of the subject.
Ray Howgego spends roughly two months of each year journeying through remote parts of the world in the footsteps of the great explorers. As a result of his travels and research he is conversant with most European languages as well as Arabic and has picked up a smattering of others along the way. He has recently completed his much lauded ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EXPLORATION, a four-volume, 4,000,000-word work that he began in 1990.