For as long as there have been civilizations, there has been the urge to venture outside of them, either in search of other civilizations or in search of novelty. Exploration: A Very Short Introduction surveys this quintessential human impulse, tracing it from pre-history to the present, from east to west around the globe, and from the depths of volcanoes to the expanses of space. Stewart Weaver arranges the history of world explorations into thematic chapters, each of which isolates the distinctive qualities and characteristics of exploration in a particular era, period, or place. He introduces the reader to the definition of exploration; to the Polynesians crossing vast seas on their canoes and other early explorers; through Columbus and the European discovery of the Americas. James Cook and the place of exploration in the Enlightenment form the subject of a chapter. So too do the natural histories and explorations of Alexander von Humboldt in South America and Lewis and Clark in North America.
The book's final chapters chart exploration through imperial expansion and into new frontiers, guiding the reader through exploration in Africa and Central Asia, the race to the North and South Poles, and today's efforts in space and deep sea exploration. But what accounts for this urge? Through this unique survey of the history of exploration, Weaver clearly shows how the impulse to explore is also the foundation of the globalized world we inhabit today. Exploration combines a narration of explorers' daring feats with a wide-lens examination of what it fundamentally means to explore. As Weaver shows us, the act of exploration in the largest possible global context is the natural history of the earth itself. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.