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The Little Book of Big Explorations
Adventures into the Unknown That Changed Everything
Jheni Osman

Michael O’Mara
14 November 2019/ ISBN 9781789290790

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde


Throughout our history (and before), our species has pushed back the boundaries of what is known and discovered more about our world and beyond. From voyaging to unknown lands and diving into the deep sea to exploring space, we are finding out more all the time. This book describes some of the most important ones in a nutshell.

This is the third in the “Little Book” series and tells in brief but informative chapters the stories of many expeditions. It is the sort of book to have on a coffee table as although there are only black and white pictures and it is of a small size; it is ideal for dipping into in odd moments. These succinct accounts might inspire you to go and find out more about the various voyages; it certainly caused me to do this in some instances. The book is divided into five sections, encompassing unknown lands, uncharted seas, ocean depths, space missions, and best of all, adventures yet to come. The sections don’t have indexes, but there is one at the back; personally, as the articles are fairly brief and so interesting, I just enjoyed reading it and wasn’t worried about not knowing what was in each section. After all, it is a book about exploring the unknown! From centuries past, read about the man whose journeys which led him to work out a system for classifying life, the explorer’s collection which formed the basis of the British Museum, the amorous butterfly collector and the first bathysphere divers. In our own time, marvel at the explorers of Mexico’s Crystal Cave, Vietnam’s giant cave system, and unmanned craft taking photographs of Pluto. Discover which parts of the world still need exploring, which is the highest unclimbed mountain and what planets might support life with a tweak or two. I initially imagined that the book would mostly contain accounts of well-known expeditions such as Columbus and Cook, but many of the chapters describe very new exploration or give insights into other aspects of more famous adventures. Everest gets a chapter, but this is about work being done to discover why some people are better at high altitude than others, and America’s 15th century explorer who gets a chapter is Vespucci. There is even one about the Loch Ness Monster, but again not covering the history of sightings but something quite different. It all makes for fascinating reading, and I look forward to seeing the next “Little Book.”

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2019