GREAT LIVES: Exploration by Milton Lomask

GREAT LIVES: Exploration

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Biographical sketches of 25 explorers from Pytheas (who discovered the British Isles in the fourth century B.C.) to Richard E. Byrd, each sketch covering early life, education, personality, and accomplishments in about ten pages. Both the familiar and the less familiar (Hoei-shin, a fifth-century Chinese monk; Mary Kingsley, who explored Africa in the 1890's; Nils Nordenskiold, who navigated the Northwest Passage) are here, arranged alphabetically rather than chronologically. Florid writing, unfamiliar vocabulary, and literary allusions will limit usefulness to the intended audience; e.g., Lomask says of Roald Amundsen, discoverer of the South Pole: ""Some, to be sure, saw in him a vein of prudery, the spinsterish sense of propriety of a man who blanched. . .when the subject turned to sex."" (It is not clear who made these observations or how they affected Amundsen's achievements.) Discussing Balboa, Lomask points out an error: ""Who hasn't read the sonnet in which John Keats describes how 'stout Cortes'. . .became the first European to gaze upon the waters of the Pacific?"" Important dates are listed, but a list of books for further reading is of limited value: e.g., only a 1965 biography is given for Meriwether Lewis, while Blumberg's excellent Incredible Journey of Lewis and Clark (1987) is omitted. A disappointing effort. Index.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Page count: 258pp
Publisher: Scribners