Books  Natural History  Biography, Exploration & Travel 

Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration

Out of Print

By: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

427 pages, 55 maps, 16 colour plates, 44 b&w illus

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Sep 2007 | #168259 | ISBN-13: 9780199219339
Out of Print Details
Hardback | Sep 2006 | #160472 | ISBN: 0199295905
Out of Print Details

About this book

Explorers forged the infrastructure of global history, first by finding the routes of migration that sundered human cultures, then - after millennia of divergence - by finding the routes that linked them up again.

Pathfinders tells the epic story of how the route-finders did it: who they were, where they came from, where they went, how they coped with the unknown, how they developed the techniques and technologies they needed, how they paid for it, how they suffered for it, and - perhaps most curious of all - why they bothered.

From the earliest migratory wanderings that scattered human societies across the planet to the great voyages of discovery that started linking them up again, and finally to the conquering of the final geographical frontiers in the twentieth century, Fernandez-Armesto reveals the real flesh-and-blood, the vainglory and fantasy that motivated the pathfinders of the world.

This book is of interest to all those interested in the history of exploration and discovery, from the earliest human migrations to the conquering of the final geographical frontiers in the twentieth century.

A spectacular book. Fernandez-Armesto specialises in works of scrupulous scholarship and staggering breadth. Angel Gurria-Quintana, Financial Times (FT Magazine) The fascination and charm of Pathfinders lie in the balance the book strikes between giving a broad overview and lingering on stories with documentary richness and narrative drive. As always in Fernandez-Armesto's work, the range of reference is wide, the writing felicitous and witty. Ronald Wright, Times Literary Supplement Absorbing... Pathfinders is a significant contribution to our knowledge of humankind's restless quest to explore and exploit Planet Earth. Justin Marozzi, Literary Review Magisterial account...both concise and bold. Hugh Thomson, The Independent Fernandez-Armesto takes us around the world in 428 fascinating pages. Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times A meticulously researched account of centuries of ambition and world-spanning lunacy... Crisp, eloquent, written in consistently memorable prose. Joanna Kavenna, New Statesman Fernandez-Armesto's human-centred story-telling and dazzling command of material convey the excitement of explorartion admirably The Spectator, Andro Linklater His portraits are crisp and eloquent, written in consistently memorable prose. Joanna Kavenna, New Statesman The temporal remit of Fernandez-Armesto's book is wonderfully broad. Joanna Kavenna, New Statesman


1. Stretching: The First Trail-Finders from Gathering Cultures to Great Empires; 2. Reaching: Exploring the Oceans; 3. Stirring: Landward Explorations in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages; 4. Springing: The Maritime Turn of the Late Middle Ages and the Penetration of the Atlantic; 5. Vaulting: The Great Leap Forward of the 1490s; 6. Girdling: Linking Global Routes, c. 1500-1620; 7. Connecting: Exploring Global Communications, c. 1620-1740; 8. Deepening: The Follow-through from about the 1740s to about the 1840s; 9. Globalizing: Forging One World, c. 1850 to c. 2000; Notes; Index

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