Thames & Hudson, $39.95, 304 pages
If the last time you thought about Christopher Columbus was grade school, you may want to check out The Great Explorers. The book contains profiles of forty of the world’s greatest explorers accompanied by hundreds of beautiful illustrations, photos, paintings and maps associated with each of their endeavors. It’s logically divided into seven sections including oceans, land, rivers, polar ice, deserts, life on earth and new frontiers. The snapshot profiles are written by those who really know their stuff – historians, travel writers, and scholars. Carolyn Gilman’s wonderful essay, “Into America’s Unknown West,” captures the adventures of Lewis and Clark as well as Sacagawea. Pictured is a photo of the weathered journals Lewis and Clark kept covering every day of their two-and-a-half-year journey. The gripping tale of their “hellish ordeal” comes alive in Gilman’s hands. Explorer John Hanning Speke, “one of the most controversial and enigmatic of Africa’s greatest explorers”, is featured in the compelling “Discovering the Nile” written by Alexander Maitland. The Great Explorers is edited by the renowned 20th century explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison and is sure to delight even the most discriminating armchair explorer.