Encyclopedia of Exploration 4: Reviews
Africana Studia, 12, 2009, pp. 155-6. (Centre of African Studies, University of Porto)
[translated from the French by GK & CH]
The reader will decide. Depending on whether he is - or was - dominant or dominated! Unsteady and comfortably reversible positions, as history teaches us. The goal of this bi-bibliographical chronicle is merely to present a few books giving some recent contrasting visions, therefore postcolonial, on the last years of the Portuguese Império (with later returns), and to compare them with other ‘colonizations' more or less near, more or less unrecognized. It will also include some texts concerning the States that resulted from the Lisbon's withdrawal in the 70s.
The work that incontestably forces respect and will render service to a very large public, in fact to all those interested in the discovery of the earth, that is to say, most often, to the origins of all colonization, is that of Raymond John Howgego who brings us the fourth section of an editorial enterprise that we did not hesitate to qualify as Promethean when we had the first three volumes in our hands. The third covered the same period (1850-1940), but touched only on the oceans and the polar regions. The fourth, of which we speak here, launches into an even more difficult task since it pretends to include all the principal explorers and major travellers who covered and described Australia, America, Asia and Africa, an ambition that we estimate is maybe a little too much for one quarto book (285x220mm) in two columns (four columns for the index) of ‘only' 1059 pages. Although Howgego has dedicated 950 articles, or about 1,120,000 words, to those pioneers who in 90 years furrowed these regions, he could not provide them all (who would dare to have the pretension to claim it in a domain so immense?), but merely the most essential of the indefatigable marcheurs who revealed Africa to the Western societies, meaning Europe, to those that were going to take possession of it, weapons in hand.
Let us be clear: we do not have the necessary knowledge to say if he misses many entries for travellers / explorers in Australia (probably none, moreover), English- and Spanish-speaking America, Central Asia and Siberia. We think, nevertheless, that the author treated these regions particularly well and that he offers us the best that exists on the subject. It is for the darkest continent, Africa, that he seems to have been a little too quick (save for the Italian explorers for whom his informants were assiduous and even surpassed themselves). Let us not shed ridiculous and out-of-place nationalism on a historian, and let us admit that President Theodore Roosevelt deserved more than four columns, which is a lot for a hunter, but why do we not see a mention of such a giant as Dias de Carvalho in Lunda or, more modestly, of Artur de Paiva in southern Angola? Three very thorough columns on Arthur Rimbaud in Ethiopia will flatter the poet's admirers, but the Spaniards will wonder what became of their explorers to Rio Muni and in premier place the ‘celebrated' Iradier. A ‘discoverer' as authentic as Victor Giraud in Central and East Africa escaped the net of this fierce investigator that is Howgego. The Portuguese will certainly not be delighted to learn that Serpa Pinto was ‘beaten' by the Makololoses (p.826), whereas, to the contrary, he was their victor in Mpassa (8 November 1889). Maybe they will comfort themselves while reading that he has nevertheless the right to three columns, as do Capelo and Ivens who, in our opinion, prevailed extensively over Serpa Pinto.
In truth, to do full justice to the exploration of Africa, to grant him 300-400 supplementary pages that could fit into a fifth volume of 1000 pages would be about sufficient that the publisher and the author owe to all their readers so that their glory is assured for at least a century. A book of this extraordinary quality, of this obvious utility, will have a longevity extending well beyond anything that crude commercial calculation can envisage. Howgego has created a superhuman work with the 4,000,000 words, 4500 articles and close to 60,000 entries of his bibliographies that his first four volumes contain. To catch up on those ‘forgotten', to correct some of the errors, to add numerous maps, to increase the thematic articles and to round everything off with indexes by countries ‘despatching' and countries ‘receiving' would be sufficient to place it on a pedestal whose height reflects his twenty or twenty-five years of titanic effort.
While waiting, and to encourage the author and the publisher to persevere, the thousands, indeed tens of thousands of embassies, foundations or cultural centres (or supposed as such), academic libraries, etc., throughout the world would be well motivated to obtain the four volumes that already exist, because they are the basis of the knowledge that their nationals will assume to take stock of the plurality of the planet's societies. For better or worse, that is not the question, because before judging, it is necessary to know. And no other work in any language approaches this fabulous census of the universality of discovery, or - conversely - any other by our ancestors, up to 1940.
A magnificent encyclopedia of exploration shows that there is still no end to the challenges faced by explorers, adventurers and fanatics.
"Adventure", wrote Peter Fleming in 1933, "is really a soft option." He knew something about it, having sought the mad, dangerous sportsman Colonel Percy Fawcett, who disappeared on an ill-starred expedition in 1925. Fawcett sought an imaginary El Dorado in non-existent mountains in the depths of Amazonia. Speculation about his fate inspired the black-comic debacle of Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust, and the less well-known novel by V. S. Pritchett, Dead Man Leading. The experience with Fawcett convinced Fleming that "it requires far less courage to be an explorer than to be a chartered accountant". Now that we are back in times of depression and austerity we can see what he meant. The financial world is a jungle, full of snake-pits and poisoned darts.
Financiers, often unprepared for serious difficulty, must survive the crash, when it comes, with unaided bravery. For a crazed obsessive like Fawcett, madness numbs or transcends fear. His last note to his wife said (as Raymond Howgego reminds us in the new volume of his Encyclopedia of Exploration), "You need have no fear of failure". By the time Fleming embraced adventure, the traditional terrors really had diminished. The hippogriffs had vanished from the map, like a depleted species. Technology made the unknown knowable. Medicine made hostile environments endurable. Explorers had exhausted or abandoned the pioneering work that was the subject of the early volumes of Howgego's masterly compilation. Exploration had already identified the best routes to link just about all the societies that wanted to be in touch with one another. There was not much of the "unknown" left, or so people rather unreflectively supposed, and the major task was to burnish knowledge of the relatively less well known. "Scientific exploration" - the craving to know the planet and everything in it - displaced route-finding as explorers' main work. Or else explorers forsook all pretensions to noble aspirations and wallowed in self-indulgence, self-promotion, or entrepreneurship, "for it is easy", as Fleming remarked, "to attract public attention to any exploit which is at once highly improbable and absolutely useless. You can lay the foundations of a brief but glorious career on the Music Halls by being the First Girl Mother To Swim Twice Round the Isle of Man; and anyone who successfully undertakes to drive a well-known make of car along the Great Wall of China in reverse will hardly fail of his reward". Where scientific patrons, emulous governments, and learned societies had formerly met the investment costs of soi-disant explorers, sensationalist media increasingly intruded on the financial side. Exploration became entertainment.
Yet in some ways this represented a reversion to type, for wanderlust, vainglory and self-romanticization were always part of explorers' essential psychic kit. In the Middle Ages and Renaissance they spun tales of mirabilia for money and a rather meretricious form of fame. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, more prosaic motives - commercial, imperial, and scientific - had a moment of ascendancy. Then romance returned to the fore. Raymond Howgego's last volume begins roughly at that moment of resurgent adventure, in 1850, and ends in 1940, more or less with the period of degeneracy Fleming took part in and deplored. The author chronicles the great romantic era of exploration, and his pages teem with specimens of romantic life - defiant utopians, dauntless dreamers, hapless visionaries, hopeless incompetents, insane idealists.
Howgego insists his work is complete. He even threatens, like Catullus, to take to his bed. If true, it is a pity. I can think of no other work of reference, on such a vast scale, compiled so efficiently, and so comprehensively, by a single individual, since Johnson's Dictionary. Howgego's writing has got better with each volume. He now commands devastating deftness and pinpoint pithiness. In any case, 1940 seems to make no sense as a terminus. The environment is always changing. Species are always evolving and vanishing and awaiting cataloguers. Uncontacted peoples are still emerging in the rainforest. Most of the biosphere remains unpenetrated. Exploration goes on.
The author has not resolved all the problems of organization. The division of the period into two volumes with what are ultimately arbitrary limits will cause users difficulties until the promised comprehensive index is available on the web. It will surprise readers who scour in vain the volume dedicated to maritime, Antarctic and boreal subjects to find the coastal surveys of Alaska reserved for the volume on "continental exploration". By giving some individuals secondary entries under other explorers' names, and compiling others briefly under geographical headings, Howgego makes the book harder to use (though he has responded to critics and in the new volume has tried to keep these problems to a minimum).
Above all, Howgego's commitment to include everyone ever designated "explorer" - whether wisely or fondly - condemns him to inconsistency and incompleteness. In the middle of an excellent entry on Charles Granville Bruce, one of the Everest victims in 1924, Howgego does something he avoided in previous volumes. He defines what he understands as "exploration": adding to geographical knowledge, preferably by way of an unknown route. But his terms of reference do not allow him to stick to a coherent theme. Some inclusions even baffle the author. The sedentary Emil Bretschneider, we are told, "never explored far afield". Why anyone has ever classed Aimé Félix Tschiffely as an explorer is inexplicable, but Howgego faithfully relates that showman's peregrinations by horseback and steamer from Buenos Aires to Washington, DC, and continues the tale down to the embalming of the horseman's two criollo steeds.
There are plenty of archaeologists and botanists in the book, as well as recorders of topographical and geological data, but zoologists and anthropologists occur disappointingly rarely - especially if one thinks that the great historical accomplishment of modern explorers has been to put the sundered cultures of the world in touch with one another. It seems a great shame to leave out Lucio Victorio Mansilla, who wrote a subtle and engaging account of his expedition to meet the Ranquele Indians of Argentina, but does not even appear in the summary on Patagonia, or in the bibliography. Louis Agassiz is well represented for his Brazilian jaunts, but his most characteristic work in that country - designed to show that miscegenation weakened fertility - is unmentioned. W. W. Rockhill is the subject of a lively entry, but his important contributions on Siberian ethnography do not figure in it. Michael Leahy, the gold prospector who discovered the "lost civilization" of the highlands of New Guinea in the 1930s, is a particularly disappointing omission.
By gleaning the names of his heroes from existing books for t, Howgego makes himself a hostage to convention, and non-white, non-Western explorers hardly appear in his pages, save for a couple of pundits. It would have been pleasing to complement the entries on the Himalayan surveyors Hari Ram and Nain Singh with a few lines, at least, on Pundit Kunthip, who mapped the route to Lhasa, or to make some space for the African slaver known as Tippu Tip, whose caravans and coffles helped to open up the interior of the "dark continent".
Yet, for the reader who seeks delight by dipping into the book, the idiosyncrasies magnify the pleasure. There are many surprising cameos. Roger Casement has a long entry, thanks to the humanitarian investigations that led him deep into Congo and Brazil. Peter Kropotkin features, thanks to a journey into Siberia "to see Darwinism in action" and a survey of ancient trade routes into Manchuria, where, he claimed, "no European" had gone before. The Comte de Gobineau puts in an appearance, on the strength of his researches in Iran. Howgego is scrupulous about editorial objectivity, and his disapproval, rarely detectable, is usually concealed beneath subtle irony or pedantic humour, but Gobineau draws something close to a denunciation for works on linguistics that "display a lack of basic training", while "his fanciful historical theories, idiosyncratic racial theories, and esoteric viewpoints" are treated with deadly editorial Verfremdung: they "brought harsh criticism from those who knew better". Howgego is now confident enough to enrich his entries with delightful asides, and fascinating "notes" too oblique for a mind dulled by the travails of writing an encyclopedia. The note on camels in the US can be especially recommended. From it we gather that schemes to introduce them foundered when the Civil War distracted Colonel Henry Wayne, who, having won the gold medal of Société Impériale Zoologique d'Acclimatation for his efforts, "forgot all about camels and rose to the rank of brigadier-general". To the entry on Moisés Bertoni, a great ethnobotanist in late nineteenth-century Paraguay, Howgego adds an illuminating note on the herb stevia, Bertoni's most promising discovery, which would supply the world with a healthy alternative to sugar but for the obstruction of the saccharin industry. Apparently trivial insertions on individuals enliven the book by disclosing curiously representative facts. It is delightful to learn that the wife of George Wyman Bury, "known as Abdullah Mansur", who wrote Arabia Felix, was a guest at King Farouk's first wedding after working as film censor, or that the hotel frequented in Rome by Brasseur de Bourbourg, who discovered and misinterpreted many great artefacts of Mayan antiquity, "is now a Holiday Inn", or that Beatrix Bulstrode, who hardly qualifies as an explorer, but who shared a Pekin cart to Ulan Bator with an excise official in 1913, "finally married her customs officer", who "went on to be secretary of the London-based China Association".
Readers will enjoy ardent debates about which is their favourite entry. St George Gore's makes excellent reading, because of the jaw-dropping profligacy of his shooting trip in the Yellowstone Valley in 1854-6. He made a bonfire of his surplus equipment rather than sell it, having reputedly bagged 105 bears, some 2,000 buffalo and 1,600 elk and deer "for pure sport". Ignoring the protests from native peoples and US officials, he "made his way back to England, after which nothing of consequence need be recorded of him". Howgego somehow seems at his best in entries on female explorers. Ella Maillart, for instance, represented Switzerland in sailing, skiing and hockey, lodged with Countess Tolstoy in Moscow, and with Kirgiz, Khazaks and Uzbeks on her way to the Taklamakan. She befriended Peter Fleming in Peking, motored around Afghanistan with a drug addict, and lived to the age of ninety-four.
The palm for an adventurous life, however, and for an improbable romance in the spirit of the age, must surely go to Alexandra David-Néel. She was a doctrinaire feminist, theosophist and anarchist, who was an expert in oriental languages and a professional opera diva, having played Marguerite in Faust, among many other loud and leading roles. She married a yachtsman in Tunis in 1904, before decamping eastwards to become the "spiritual sister" of the ruler of Sikkim, and, for a while, after her royal lover's murder, a cave-dwelling anchoress. She emerged in the company of a young monk who became her "adopted son" and companion on a three-year journey to Lhasa in the guise of a beggar. On returning to Paris, she occupied a tent outside the Musée Guimet. When she died at the age of 100 she was at work on simultaneous biographies of Jesus Christ and Mao Tse-tung. There are long books about her, but Howgego treats her perfectly in a single page.
Reading the entry on Count László Almásy, the restless aviator who inspired Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, I was struck by a coincidence Howgego does not mention. One of the Count's more madcap schemes, as the Encyclopedia reveals, was to scour the Great Sand Desert in 1935 for the fabled oasis of Zenzura and the remains of the lost army of Cambyses I. This is Biggles's project in the best of his adventures, Biggles Flies South, published in 1938. Biggles exceeds the glamorous Count. Not only does he find the lost army, but he is also captured by descendants of its survivors before the usual happy ending. How delicious to think of Michael Ondaatje as the literary successor of Captain W. E. Johns.
Felipe Fernández-Armesto is Professor of History at Tufts University, Massachusetts. He is the author of nineteen books, most recently Pathfinders: A global history of exploration, Amerigo: The man who gave his name to America, and The World: A history, all of which were published last year.
BY RICHARD H. DILLON
Raymond John Howgego's Encyclopedia of Exploration is a four-part set of books from Derek McDonnell's Hordern House in New South Wales. It is an extra-ordinary example of modern publishing and a tour de force of one-man geography, history and bibliography.
London's Times Literary Supplement termed the effort "a towering work of scholarship," and early reviewers were astonished that such a powerful reference set could be the work of just one man. We share their awe. Surprisingly, Howgego is not an academic historian by trade, but a physicist whose avocation, the study of exploration, has led him to follow in the footsteps of many explorers. Important to his scholarship is Howgego's mastery of several languages and his gift of speed-reading.
Volume I covered exploration to 1800; Volume II to 1850. The final era, exploration from 1850 to 1940, appeared in two volumes. The one in hand is titled Encyclopedia of Exploration 1850 to 1940, the Oceans, Islands and Polar Regions. It sells for $245. Its companion, Continental Exploration, 1830-1940, will be reviewed in the QN-L.
Volume III extends the Age of Discovery or Age of Reconnaissance, which got under way at the end of the 15th Century and flourished particularly in the 18th Century of Cook, LaPerouse, Vancouver and Bougainville. These pioneers were gone by 1850, but Howgego skillfully traces the continued multi-national expansion in Victorian times by lesser navigators in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, South China Sea, and the Poles. Since the set is published in Australia, an island so large it is a continent, the author gives extra attention to the world's largest islands-New Zealand, Borneo, New Caledonia, Sumatra, Celebes (Sulawesi)-and to our globe's extremities, the Arctic and Antarctic.
Of special interest to this reviewer is the author's handling of Hawaii. He devotes parts of five pages to the history of the Sandwich Islands and then adds four full pages of bibliography. Howgego breaks his bibliographies into primary and secondary sources, and he locates manuscripts and archives for our follow-up reference and research.
Most of the 3,000 or so main entries are biographical, with cross-references suggesting the individual's major areas of exploration. Besides traditional navigators and explorers, the author includes scientists, such as Louis Agassiz and Franz Boas, missionaries, and single-handed small boat voyagers like Joshua Slocum and Bernard Gilboy. The latter sailed, alone, to Australian waters from Marin County-Fort Baker's Horseshoe Cove!) Professional writers are here, too, like Joseph Conrad and Louis Becke.
Included, too, are the Victorian period's amateur circumnavigators, world travelers on cruise ships. They include Mark Twain and Nellie Bly. Besides Ms. Bly representing women, there is Lady Brassey; the remarkable Isabella Bird; and even San Rafael's Louise Boyd in the Arctic. Howgego also discusses such pirates and blackbirders (slavers) as Bully Hayes. Aviation brings the story of polar exploration up to the author's cut-off date of 1940.
September 2008 issue of CHOICE:
This is the fourth and last volume of a very comprehensive set of encyclopedias on the history of exploration: the first covers to 1800 (CH, Jul'03, 40-6175); the second, 1800-50 (CH, May'05, 42-5001); and the third, the oceans, islands, and Polar regions, 1850-1940 (CH, Mar'07, 44-3645). This final volume covers continental exploration for the period 1850 to 1940 and has the same organization, layout, and impressive appearance as the previous ones. It features 911 major articles on explorers and 12 on regions, e.g., "Alaska: Inland Exploration, 1860-1900." The entries are written in a balanced, clear, and concise manner. Each entry contains separate bibliographies of primary and secondary sources. The volume is well indexed, with a general index and list of regional articles at the back. Separate listings for ships (1,072), all persons named (2,982), a geochronological index for all volumes, and addenda/corrigenda for the set are located at the publisher's Web site
ENCYCLOPEDIC TASK COMPLETED By Milton Osborne
The literary undertaking that the distinguished critic, Alberto Manguel, described as ‘The definitive reference book for anyone interested in the history of travel', has now been brought to a triumphant conclusion in its fourth volume devoted to continental exploration from 1850 to 1940. As its seemingly tireless author, Raymond John Howgego, notes in his helpful and succinct ‘Introduction', the period covered in this volume differs greatly from those covered in its three predecessors. Well before the end of the nineteenth century it ‘had become a relatively simple matter for an explorer to disembark at his destination, assemble an expedition, and then to disappear for an indefinite period into the mountains, deserts or jungles of his or her choice'. This said, it was during the period covered by Howgego's final volume that some of the best-known and most heroic examples of expeditionary travel took place. So this volume, as might be expected, details the feats of such familiar names as Livingstone, Burton and Baker, in relation to Africa, and Sturt, Mitchell and Burke and Wills in Australia. Less familiar to many Australian readers will be the names of explorers of the American West and the South American continent, while the attention given to French explorers in Asia, a group so frequently omitted in English-language anthologies dealing with exploration, is both justified and very welcome.
One of the great pleasures in this, as in previous volumes, is the detail that the author provides on individuals whose names will be unfamiliar to many readers. Take, for example, the entry on Catherine Fanny de Bourboulon (1859-1965). Born Fanny MacLeod in Scotland, she was educated in the United States and married a French diplomat in 1851 and in the same year travelled with him to China. Eight years later, when it was time to return to Europe, the couple chose to make their way back on horseback through Mongolia and Siberia to Moscow, a journey of 12,000 kilometres. In the best Victorian tradition Fanny memorialised this journey in both words and pen and ink sketches in her diary, which was ultimately published in the Paris journal, Le Tour du Monde. Or, to pluck another little-known name from the volume, consider the entry for Harry Hamilton Johnston (1858-1927), who tried, but failed, to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, yet who contributed substantially to broader African exploration. As with so many other entries, Howgego includes information about Johnston which make him more than a two-dimensional character. Not only was he given to ‘obstinacy and pig-headedness', he lacked financial acumen and at the end of his life he maintained himself through writing that included several fictional ‘pot-boilers'.
Although, as Howgego points out in the ‘Introduction', much of the continental United States had already been explored by the middle of the nineteenth century, it is striking, nevertheless, to read the entries that make clear how much detailed work remained to be done in the years that followed as part of the government-sponsored ‘Great Surveys'. Exploration could still be a hazardous business involving not only resistance to western expansion from Native Americans but also the opposition to Federal authority from Mormons, aspects reflected in an entry such as that dealing with John Williams Gunnison (1812-1853), who was killed in controversial circumstances with members of his party by Paiute hunters in October 1853.
As an Australian reader I feel abashed by the realisation that so many of the explorers of my own country were not known to me before consulting this volume. While Sturt, Kennedy, Burke and Wills, and others, were familiar names, I knew nothing of the achievements of Peter Egerton Warburton, a former officer in the East India Company's army who became Commissioner of Police in Adelaide in 1853. With a passion for exploration he made several expeditions into the interior of the continent, including from Alice Springs to the northwest of the continent in 1873, a journey made across the Great Sandy Desert that he commenced at the age of sixty.
Once again in the completion of this volume author has scanned thousands of pages of sources to produce this meticulous compendium. The product of fifteen years of research, the entries also reflect Howgego's own passion for travel. While the four volumes of the Encyclopedia are a god-send to armchair travellers, the author has himself visited many of the most distant locations that had fascinated those about whom he writes. At a total for the four volumes of some 3.7 million words devoted to more than 4,500 individual entries, this is the largest single-authored work to have been published originally in the English language. Its scholarly apparatus is admirable, with detailed bibliographic references and carefully documented cross-referencing of articles.
In reviews of the previous three volumes of the Encyclopedia in this journal I have observed that it is a matter for pride that an Australian publisher has produced such an important reference work, and the point is worth making again. Another reason for pride is the quality of the production, with sturdy binding, silk ribbon page markers, and appropriate pictorial colour dustjackets for each volume. As a reflection of changing technologies, it is interesting to note the reference at the beginning of this, and previous volumes, asking for corrections or additions to be signalled to the author by way of a dedicated website, which is www.explorersencyclopedia.com.
Milton Osborne, an adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Asian Studies, the Australian National University, and a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, has written extensively on the exploration of the Mekong River. His latest book, Phnom Penh: A Cultural and Literary History, with a Foreword by William Shawcross, is due for release in Australia in May.
Discovering exploration Ian MorrisonTHE CONCLUDING volume to Raymond Howgego's epic Encyclopedia of Exploration completes a remarkable undertaking by a small publisher. Hordern House, best known as one of Australia's leading antiquarian booksellers, has a record of producing high-quality publications, and Howgego's Encyclopedia -now totalling more than 3500 pages - is by any standards a great reference work. Volume 1 (published in 2003) covers the whole of human history up to 1800CE; Volume 2 (2004), 1800-50; and Volumes 3 and 4 (subtitled The Oceans, Islands and Polar Regions and Continental Exploration, respectively), 1850-1940.
As the earth's surface was mapped in ever greater detail - and for a widening diversity of purposes - during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the ranks of Howgego's 'explorers' in the later volumes are swelled by miscellaneous adventurers, deluded obsessives and outright ratbags. A highlight of Volume 4 is the entry for Frederick Albert 'Mike' Mitchell-Hedges (1882-1959), most famous for his discovery of an ' Atlantean' crystal skull in a ruined city in the forests of Honduras: it was subsequently revealed that he had in fact bought the skull at a Sotheby's auction, but that unprepossessing fact has failed to rattle the faithful (see http://www.mitchell-hedges.com/ for the opinions of the 'current caretaker' and for a link to the new Indiana Jones movie). Mitchell-Hedges was accompanied on his adventures by his adopted daughter Anna and the indomitable Lady Lilian Mabel Alice Richmond-Brown (1885-1946). Mitchell-Hedges and Richmond-Brown were both married to other people when they first took off together and, with true upper-class panache, they remained so for many years. Their expeditions are chronicled in such works as Battles with Giant Fish (1923), Unknown Tribes Uncharted Seas (1927), Land of Wonder and Fear (1931) and Danger My Ally (1954).
More orthodox characters in Volume 4 include the legendary explorers of central Africa (Burton, Speke, Livingstone, Stanley) and of central Australia (Burke and Wills, Stuart, the Forrest brothers, Canning, Gregory, through to the hapless Lasseter). Theodore Roosevelt's adventures in Africa and South America are included, as are the explorations carried out by Welsh settlers in Patagonia. The number of expeditions that involved the use of aeroplanes, along with the inclusion of pioneer motorists Georges-Marie Haardt (Africa, 1920s; Asia, 1930s) and Michael Terry (central Australia, 1930s), underscores the roll of rapid technological change during this period.
Howgego's writing is concise and factual, but never dry. Over the course of the four massive volumes, he takes a consistently sceptical approach to unconfirmed discoveries: if an expedition is not documented, if no information was disseminated as a result of it, it can be argued that it made no contribution to human knowledge. So, for example, for Howgego's purposes the activities of the Breton cod fishermen who were exploiting the Newfoundland banks a generation before the Cabots, or of the sealers who were operating in Bass Strait before it was officially discovered, are in essence irrelevant. More problematic are the claims of Spanish and Portuguese sightings of northern Australia before Jansz's voyage of 1606. The great land mass 'Java Le Grande' on the Dieppe maps is almost certainly not Australia - see Walter Richardson, Was Australia Charted before 1606? (2006) -but there is still considerable evidence that Jansz's discovery did not come out of the blue: Andrea Corsali's letter of 1517 refers, second-hand, to a large land mass south of New Guinea; and later sixteenth-century maps such as De Jode's Nova Guinae Forma et Situs (1593) and Wyt-fliet's Chica sive Patagonica etAustralis Terra (1597) are strongly suggestive of European sightings of Cape York. It seems reasonable, in any case, to assume that Jansz had reasonable expectations of finding land when he sailed south from New Guinea.
More problematic still are the questions of what exactly 'discovery' meant to the discovered, and to what extent 'human knowledge' is knowable or accessible by any individual human at any given point in time. Howgego's positivism is in this regard both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness: he is a scrupulous marshaller of facts and weigher of evidence; but he leaves it to others to explore the wider meanings of exploration. To have embarked on that course, though, would have resulted in something other than the comprehensive and authoritative reference work that is the Encyclopedia of Exploration. The addition of an 86-page 'Geo-chronological index' made available free on the publisher's website
greatly enhances the value of the whole work, enabling the reader to construct a narrative of exploration in any part of the world. This index is not just another means of access, it is another way of seeing the whole subject: it shifts attention from the exploits of heroic individuals to the growth of knowledge as a collaborative, accumulative process.
Beau Riffenburgh -Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1ER
A good number of years ago, this reviewer put forward a proposal through the African Studies Centre at Cambridge to write an encyclopedia covering in detail all the major exploring expeditions venturing into Africa. My model was to be the classic The exploration of northern Canada 500 to 1920: a chronology, by Alan Cooke and Clive Holland (1978). In the event, the proposal went nowhere, but, as it turned out, it really did not matter, because Encyclopedia of exploration 1850 to 1940: continental exploration, when joined together with the earlier volumes of Raymond John Howgego's remarkable series, has achieved the task better than I imagine I - or, in fact, anyone else - probably could have.
This is the fourth and final volume of what truly is a magnum opus. And it would be remarkable if anyone with serious interests in the history of exploration were not familiar with the previous volumes of this work (Howgego 2003, 2004, 2006), which, uniquely in my view, serve equally well as an introduction for the general reader and a meticulous recounting of the specifics and minutiae for the specialist. All three were mentioned in a previous review of the third volume in this journal (Riffenburgh 2007).
Although in a sense a continuation of the first two volumes, which covered the periods up to 1800 and then 1800-1850, respectively, this is more of a counterpart to the third volume, which dealt with the exploration of the world's oceans, islands, and polar regions from 1850 to 1940. This volume, as its subtitle indicates, covers the exploration of, and travel in, the continental areas. This does not mean that there is not a great deal here for the readers of Polar Record, however. Expeditions to Arctic and sub-Arctic Canada, Alaska, and Siberia are all included, as are those to Tierra del Fuego.
The organisation of this volume is like that of the previous three installments of Encyclopedia of exploration. The entries are listed alphabetically by leaders of expeditions rather than by the expeditions themselves, meaning that if an explorer led more than one major expedition, they form separate entries under his name. Other significant members of expeditions are given brief biographies at the end of the appropriate expedition account, rather than individual entries. Each entry is followed by a bibliography, and these tend to be divided into two sections. The first lists original diaries, logs, and other papers, as well as primary narratives; the second is a selection of biographies and other works that provide useful background. Some of these bibliographies are remarkable research efforts on their own, such as the ones about the African explorer David Livingstone, which total four and a half pages of small type in a quarto format book.
This volume also has entries about specific regions, although not nearly as many as did the third volume. Thus, articles such as ‘Alaska: inland exploration, 1860-1900' and ‘Alaska: coastal surveys, 1854-1900' provide a great deal of both historical and bibliographical information about ‘minor' expeditions and explorers that might otherwise not have been incorporated in the book due to their relative significance (or lack thereof) and the stringent inclusion criteria required for such a work. Other important parts of the book are the introduction, which explains the organisation, content, and sources; the index of individuals mentioned in the entries, and the index of the regional entries. It is also a significant benefit that, with all four books having been completed, a series of indices covering all four volumes and allowing searches by specific regions of the world or particular periods of time are being prepared. These are available to download free from the internet, to obtain from the publisher, or to be searched online.
For nearly three decades, the publications of Clive Holland (Cooke and Holland 1978; Holland 1994) set the standard for reference works about the Arctic. Howgego's volumes have been the only works to match that standard as relates to the polar regions - and they offer vastly more for those with interests wider than the Arctic and Antarctic. Although this volume is perhaps not as heavy in polar content as the previous three, it gives important coverage to the sub-Arctic and even surpasses Holland (1994) in some respects, as its time period extends 25 years more recently and it has additional content about certain regions, such as Labrador, where not only Albert Low, but Wilfred Grenfell, Zacharie Lacasse, and Leonida Hubbard have entries.
All the names that a reader of Polar Record would expect to be in such a source are included, such as Frederick Schwatka and John Palliser for their expeditions throughout North America; Robert Kennicott, William Healey Dall, Edward Nelson, and Edward Henry Harriman in Alaska; John Moodie, Emil Petitot, and Keish (Skookum Jim) in the Yukon or the Northwest Territories; and George Kennan in Siberia. But there are a lot more who are perhaps less known, such as John Murdoch, Annie Alexander and Andrew Bahr, who worked in Alaska, and Charles Lanauze and Francis French, who conducted expeditions to the Northwest Territories. Bringing all these figures, and more, to light is a significant achievement and a valuable addition to the polar literature.
As would be expected from Hordern House - a publisher that has long thrived on high quality - this book is a first-class production. As in the previous volumes, the editing and cross-referencing are thorough, the printing excellent, and the binding and dust jacket superior, even including the series' trademark three page ribbons.
Unfortunately, the book does suffer from one glaring weakness: there are no maps. On the one hand, this is totally understandable, because it most likely that it would be vastly more expensive to produce detailed maps of all of the regions of the Earth's continents than to put together the rest of the book in total. That said, with 950 major articles in the volume, and therefore thousands upon thousands of place-names, it is unfortunate that the reader has to turn to a detailed atlas to follow the routes of the expeditions.
As regards other criticisms of the book, I would really have to search hard to find any, and then they would simply prove to be niggles mentioned to show they could be found. This book is that good - and that valuable as a resource.