Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Explorer's House - Book Review

Explorers House
By Robert Poole
Penguin 2004

For more than one hundred years, National Geographic has brought "the world and all that's in it" to millions of people worldwide. Through its unparalleled research, exploration, publications, and photography, the organization and its magazine have, in many ways, defined how we see the world.

Actually the above statement is not totally accurate. For 100 years the National Geographic brought the world to millions of Americans. The rest of the world did not get their chance to read the NG in their own language until the 1990's when the magazine finally started being printed in foreign languages.

This book tells ALL the dirty secrets including the family arguments, the nepotism, the marriages and divorces, the anti-semitism, the anti-nazism, the anti-communist feelings that ran high. All mention of the Soviet Union was excluded from the magazine for 40 years (from 1917 to 1957).

This book details the arguments between the Bell, and Grosvenor familes. Alexander Graham Bell, and his father in law - Gardiner Greene Hubbard - started the magazine in 1888. Gilbert Grosvenor (Bell's son-in-law) was the editor for 50 years. While Gil was respected, his son Melville Grosvenor was much loved. Melville finally took over in 1957, and expanded the magazine and had plenty of new ideas. Including the new area of television.

This was a very good and interesting book. I thoroughly enjoyed it for the detailed inside information about the founding families, the personal conflicts (and there were plenty of them), and the feelings that ran high about the world around them.

The NGS tried to stay outside of the political arena by reporting on nature and geography. It was not until Melville Grosvenor became editor that the magazine finally started expanding into the REAL world, reporting on the truth and reality of politics, the environment, and other changes happening in the world.

The author Robert Poole was a staff member of the NGS Magazine.

I read this book for the Back to History Challenge and the Round the World Challenge.

Explorers House

Official NGS Website

National Geographic Society

National Geographic Magazine

1 comment:

heather (errantdreams) said...

Wow. I had no idea the mag had such an exciting history!