The Oxford Book of Exploration by Robin Hanbury-Tenison (ed) - review by Christopher Ondaatje

Christopher Ondaatje

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The Oxford Book of Exploration


Oxford University Press 576pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Robin Hanbury-Tenison’s Oxford Book of Exploration, originally published in hardback in 1993, was the very first anthology of explorers’ writings. There are, of course, a great many travel anthologies (notably Eric Newby’s excellent Book of Travellers’ Tales) and volumes on exploration in general (such as John Keay’s excellent History of World Exploration), but Hanbury-Tenison was the first to deal exclusively with explorers. For this revised paperback edition he has included new adventurers, amended other entries, and added a new section, ‘Above and Below’, on explorers of our oceans and caves, and of our solar system.

Given carte blanche by his publishers in his choice of extracts, Hanbury-Tenison has been able to air his own prejudices and concerns about the inadequacies of much exploration and especially the failure of many explorers to recognise even the existence of communities in the lands they were ‘discovering’, let alone

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