A remarkable and visually exciting book that traces the history of exploration 1through fourteen different journeys, from the voyage of the Ancient Greek Pytheas to the Arctic Circle in 340 BC to the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon in 1969. Ross is a masterly storyteller whose style is vivid and full of historical detail, bringing the past to life by quoting from the explorers’ journals or contemporary accounts. In this he is matched by Biesty’s wonderfully intricate pictorial maps, cross-sections and cutaways, many of which fold out from the page. He succeeds in combining a wealth of technical detail – on the construction of a Viking knarr for example, with its strong and flexible hull, or the descent of the bathyscaphe Trieste – with an atmospheric style that can conjure up a sea ‘like curdled milk’, or the Trinidad, one of Magellan’s fleet, seen not just in cross-section but in a roaring gale with its main sail tearing out and a man flung overboard. Together they paint a vivid picture of what is was like to travel the Silk Road with Marco Polo from Venice to Kublai Khan’s Palace in Shangdu and the importance of safe shelter afforded by the caravanserai that dotted the route. We learn about the giant nine-masted Treasure ships that sailed in tight formation from the Yangtse Rive to Calicut and on to Java and East Africa. We travel across the Pacific with Cook, down the Zambezi with Livingstone and up into the air with Nobile and Piccard. More importantly we begin to understand how explorers built up a picture of our world as though assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle, and the courage and determination of the individuals who overcame formidable challenges, hardship and dangers to reach their goals.
An inspiring book and a sumptuous production by Walker, even the jacket folds out to form a poster.