CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 29. . . .April 1, 2016
Ten of the Best Adventures in New Worlds showcases the adventures of 10 explorers and the challenges they encounter while seeking out new lands. Stories include: Marco Polo, Herman Cortes, Francisco Pizarro, Samuel de Champlain, Robert de La Salle, Lewis and Clark, David Livingstone, Richard Burton, Burke and Wills, and Sven Hedin. The stories provide a brief summary of each explorer’s journey, with a focus on the heart of the adventure, whether it be a bear or lion attack or an Iroquois ambush. Each story is accompanied by black and white renderings of the explorers, full-color illustrations of the events and a small map to help the reader identify the region. Though the book is a mere 24 pages long, it does include a table of contents, a glossary to assist readers with some of the unfamiliar terms used, such as arqebus (a firearm used from the 1400s to the 1600s) or spontoon (a weapon like a spear with two smaller blades on each side of the pointed blade), and an index which allows readers to find a story by geographic region or explorer name.
The primary issue with this volume is its scope. Although this book is intended to be a brief and exciting overview of new world explorers, it is its very brevity that raises several questions about the author’s choices. For example, it is not clear why these explorers (all male) and their particular adventures (half of the stories are about battles with natives), were chosen over many other equally exciting and less sexist or racist ones. The usage of the term “new worlds” is also left unqualified. The term is generally attributed to the western hemisphere, but destinations explored in this book include the Americas and China, so the terminology is used loosely here. Furthermore, there is no date range given. The book begins with the travels of Marco Polo in the 1290s and ends with the explorations of Sven Hedin in the late 1890s. Therefore, it appears that any adventuring or exploring taking place between the 13th and 20th centuries could fit in this book. So, how were these 10 explorers chosen, and why have their explorations been deemed the “best”?
Although it contains some positive attributes, ultimately, Ten of the Best Adventures in New Worlds is too brief in its descriptions to contribute any real historical knowledge, and, as a result, perpetuates two myths, with the first being that men alone were responsible for all exploration and discovery, and the second, that exploration is defined by conquering and colonialism. As Crabtree publishing has identified this and the other books in the series as a support book for language arts, Ten of the Best Adventures in New Worlds could be used as an additional resource, rather than as a text to teach historical facts.
Recommended with Reservations.
Tabitha Nordby is a Readers’ Advisory and Reference Instructor in the Library and Information Technology Program at Red River College in Winnipeg, MB..
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.