5 great books about exploration

PUBLISHED: 11:20 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:20 31 July 2017

Ninety Degrees North, Full Tilt: Ireland To India With A Bicycle, 1421: The Year China Discovered The World, The Worst Journey In The World, The Nomad: The Diaries Of Isabelle Eberhardt

Ninety Degrees North, Full Tilt: Ireland To India With A Bicycle, 1421: The Year China Discovered The World, The Worst Journey In The World, The Nomad: The Diaries Of Isabelle Eberhardt

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Five books of remarkable journeys by remarkable people.

Ninety Degrees North

by Fergus Fleming (Granta, o/p)

This is a thrilling tale of adventure, bravery and astounding deeds by some extraordinary explorers, charlatans and outright crackpots. Brave, foolhardy or a mixture of both, the men who dreamed of being the first to the North Pole are brilliantly brought to life in a compelling page-turner from a nephew of Ian

Fleming.

1421: The Year China Discovered The World

by Gavin Menzies (Bantam, £10.99)

In 1421 Chinese emperor Zhu Di sent a fleet of ships under his loyal eunuch admirals “to proceed all the way to the end of the earth and collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas”. Two years later they returned, only to find China had in the meantime decided to isolate itself, meaning the story of how the Chinese circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan and reached America and Australia way before Columbus and Cook was almost lost until Menzies’ enthralling book.

Full Tilt: Ireland To India With A Bicycle

by Dervla Murphy (Eland, £12.99)

There are few better travellers and writers than Dervla Murphy, and this account of her solo journey by bicycle from her home in Ireland across a wintry Europe and Asia in the 1960s is one of the great accounts of a pioneering journey. Leaving Europe she travels through Persia, Afghanistan, over the Himalayas into Pakistan and finally India.

The Worst Journey In The World

by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (Vintage Classics, £11.99)

Commuters using Southern Rail may dispute his title, but Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s account of his time as one of Captain Scott’s support team is one of the great accounts of hardship and struggle. Paul Theroux rates this as his favourite travel book, and there’s no finer endorsement than that.

The Nomad: The Diaries Of Isabelle Eberhardt

by Isabelle Eberhardt (Summersdale, o/p)

Copies of The Nomad are hard to find these days but then so was its author. Isabelle Eberhardt travelled to north Africa in the 1890s and began wandering the Sahara through Algeria and Tunisia disguised as an Arab man. Her diaries are a riotous tale of drink, drugs, conversion to Islam and narrow escape from assassination by the French government who thought she was a spy. She was eventually killed in a flash flood aged 27, but thankfully these diaries preserve her tremendous legacy.

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