Greatness from small beginnings………….. three titles of exploration.

……………………was the motto of Sir Francis Drake who is the subject of the first of these titles and was a strong influence and inspiration for Richard Hakluyt who caused the publication of so many Tudor voyages of exploration and is, in turn, the namesake of the Society that has been instrumental in translating and preserving histories of voyages and explorations. The third title in this post is unrelated except for the fact that it represents a continuation of the efforts to explore our world and if Lamb does not share the dreams of empire of the first two he at least shares their quest for knowledge and their willingness to go in search of it. Who says your summer reading shouldn’t span five centuries?

The secret voyage of Sir Francis Drake  Samuel Bawlf London : Allen Lane, 2003  Great Britain History, Naval Tudors, 1485-1603 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xii, 400 p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 24 cm. Dust Jacket. Includes bibliographical references (p. [367]-371) and index.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting , underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

When Sir Francis Drake returned to England in 1580, many questions concerning his momentous voyage were left unanswered — his journals were impounded and his men were forbidden, on pain of death, to divulge where they had been. Drawing on newly uncovered evidence, geographer and maritime historian Samuel Bawlf masterfully reconstructs Francis Drake’s historic round-the-world expedition, exploring the drama surrounding the voyage and offering intriguing insights into life at sea in the sixteenth century. But it is Bawlf’s assertion of Drake’s whereabouts in the summer of 1579 that gives the book even greater originality: from an intensive study of maps of the period, Bawlf shows with certainty that Drake sailed all the way to Alaska — much farther than anyone has heretofore imagined — thereby rewriting the history of exploration in North America.

Hakluyts Voyages: [The principall navigations, voiages and discoveries of the English nation, made by sea or over land. Selections ]  Hakluyt, Richard ; [edited] by Richard David London : Chatto & Windus, 1981  Exploration Voyages by Englishmen 1556-1591 Hardcover. Maps on lining papers. 640p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 23cm.  Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

Devil in the mountain : a search for the origin of the Andes   Simon Lamb Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c 2004  Geology Andes Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xi, 335 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-326) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The question of how high mountain ranges form on the face of the Earth is one that has intrigued the world’s great thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks. Devil in the Mountain is the story of one scientist, author Simon Lamb, and his quest for the key to this great geological mystery. Lamb and a small team of geologists have spent much of the last decade exploring the majestic Bolivian Andes, the second highest mountain range on Earth–a region rocked by earthquakes and violent volcanic eruptions.

The author’s account is part travelogue, part detective story, describing how he and his colleagues pursue a trail of clues hidden in the landscape and rocks. In the course of their travels, they follow the tracks of the dinosaurs, which never saw the Andes, but left their mark on the shores of a vast inland sea that covered this part of South America more than sixty-five million years ago. They listen to the tales of local silver miners who strive to appease the spirit they call Tio–the devil in the mountain.

Sprinkled throughout the gripping narrative are delightful insights into the life of a scientist (stories of traveling through Bolivia’s back roads, starting trucks in subzero weather, and avoiding nasty characters during local riots). But the backdrop for all these adventures is the bigger story of the Earth and how geologists have gone about uncovering its secrets. (We learn how continental plates move, how landscapes are dated, and where volcanoes come from.) By the end of their journey, Lamb and his team turn up extraordinary evidence pointing to the fundamental instability of the surface of our planet.


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