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Titles By Fergus Fleming
In 1816, John Barrow, second secretary to the British admiralty, launched the most ambitious program of exploration the world has ever seen. For the next thirty years, his handpicked teams of elite British naval officers scoured the globe from the Arctic to Antarctica, their mission: to fill the blanks that littered the atlases of the day.
Barrow’s Boys is the spellbinding story of these adventurers, the perils they faced—including eating mice, their shoes, and even each other to survive—and the challenges they overcame on their odysseys into the unknown. Many of these expeditions are considered the greatest in history, and here they’ve been collected into one volume that captures the full sweep of Barrow’s program.
“Here is all the adventure you could want, stirringly and generously told.” —Anthony Brandt, National Geographic Adventure
“History at its most romantic.” —The Columbus Dispatch
“A sure bet for fans of Caroline Alexander’s The Endurance, this captivating survey of England’s exploration during the nineteenth century illuminates a host of forgotten personalities.” —Publishers Weekly
“Travel history of the best kind: entertaining, informed and opinionated.” —The Sunday Times
Whether writing of the Alps, the high seas, or the North Pole, Fergus Fleming has won acclaim as one of today’s most vivid and engaging historians of adventure and exploration. The Sword and the Cross takes us to the Sahara at the end of the nineteenth century, when France had designs on a hostile wilderness dominated by deadly Tuareg nomads.
Two fanatical adventurers, Charles de Foucauld and Henri Laperrine, rose to the cause of their country’s national honor. Abandoning his decadent lifestyle as a sensualist and womanizer, Foucauld founded a monastic order so severe that during his lifetime it never had a membership of more than one. Yet he remained a committed imperialist and from his remote hermitage continued to assist the military. The stern career soldier Laperrine, meanwhile, founded a camel corps whose exploits became legendary. During World War I the Sahara’s fragile peace crumbled. In the desert mountains Foucauld paid a tragic price for his role as imperial pawn. Laperrine, by then recalled to the Western Front, returned to avenge his friend.
“Fleming captures the hopelessness of the French efforts to conquer the Saharan expanse . . . Provides a vital lesson about the limits of power.” —Zachary Karabell, Los Angeles Times
A masterly anthology of extracts from the journals and writings of travelers, explorers, and adventurers throughout history, taking the reader on one unforgettable journey for each day of the year
Inviting readers to cross ocean, desert, mountain, and ice-cap in the company of the world's greatest explorers, wanderers, and writers, this day-by-day anthology of travel writing ranges widely across time as well as place: from Christopher Columbus's "discovery" of the West Indies in 1492 to Anton Chekhov's journey through Siberia in the 19th century and on to Wilfred Thesiger's wanderings in Arabia's "empty quarter" in the 1940s. Each quoted extract is accompanied by a brief commentary that introduces the writer and establishes the context of the excerpt, while integrated paintings and black and white etchings chime with the period of the chosen extracts. The itinerary offers the astonishment of the 17th-century diarist John Evelyn on beholding the size of women's shoes in Venice; the stoic courage of Captain Scott facing death at 40 degrees below zero; the exasperation of Dylan Thomas at finding himself in a "stifflipped, liverish, British Guest House in puking Abadan;" and the philosophical introspection of Fridtjof Nansen as he drifts in an "interminable and rigid world" of Arctic ice. Readers will find Napoleon's travel tips to his niece, a flight over Germany with Hitler, and an ex-pat dinner in Morocco where human blood is served from the fridge by the pint. Covering the whole calendar, including leap years, these 366 journeys are by turn lyrical, witty, tragic, and bizarre—but always entertaining.
In a riveting narrative of daredevils and eccentrics, Fergus Fleming gives us the breathtaking story of some of history’s greatest explorers as they conquer the soaring peaks of the Alps. Fleming recounts the incredible exploits of the men whose centuries-old fear of the mountain range turned quickly to curiosity, then to obsession, as they explored Europe’s frozen wilderness. In the late eighteenth century, French and Swiss scientists became interested in the Alps as a research destination, but in the 1850s the focus changed: the icy mountains now offered an all-out competition for British climbers who wanted to conquer ever higher and more impossible heights, and explorers fought each other on the peaks and in the press, entertaining a vast public smitten with their bravery, delighted by their personal animosities, and horrified by the disasters that befell them.
“Fleming attacks his theme with verve, mining entertainment from eccentric Alpinists, sensational ascents and grisly accidents.” —Food and Travel Magazine
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, the Seattle Times, Publishers Weekly, and Time
In the nineteenth century, theories about the North Pole ran rampant. Was it an open sea? Was it a portal to new worlds within the globe? Or was it just a wilderness of ice? When Sir John Franklin disappeared in the Arctic in 1845, explorers decided it was time to find out.
In scintillating detail, Ninety Degrees North tells of the vying governments (including the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Austria-Hungary) and fantastic eccentrics (from Swedish balloonists to Italian aristocrats) who, despite their heroic failures, often achieved massive celebrity as they battled shipwreck, starvation, and sickness to reach the top of the world.
Drawing on unpublished archives and long-forgotten journals, Fergus Fleming recounts this riveting saga of humankind’s search for the ultimate goal with consummate craftsmanship and wit.
“Barely a page goes by without the loss of a crew member or a body part . . . Fleming [is] a marvelous teller of tales—and a superb thumbnail biographer.” —The Observer
“A fable of men driven to extremes by the lust for knowledge as epic as a Greek myth.” —Time
On John Franklin’s 1820 expedition to find the Northwest Passage, Michel Teroahaute cannibalized two team members and was preparing a third when he was caught and killed. When Rene La Salle set off for the Mississippi Delta in 1684, he missed the target by five hundred miles, but on landing, immediately built a prison for those who fell asleep on watch. Consummate storyteller Fergus Fleming brings together these and forty-three other gripping stories spanning three ages of exploration in Off the Map.
Off the Map recounts episodes both classic and forgotten: The “classics” are brought to life in more vivid colors than ever before; the lesser-known stories offer accounts of extraordinary feats that have long lain hidden. From the Renaissance golden age of Columbus, da Gama, and Magellan, to the twentieth-century heroics of polar explorers such as Peary, Scott, and Amundsen, this is an unforgettable journey into the annals of adventure.
“A first-rate one-volume . . . introduction to many hair-raising stories of exploration.” —The New York Times
“Each story is short, punchy, and crammed with facts . . . Fleming possesses an eye for wry detail.” —Adventure
“There isn’t a dud in the lot . . . Adventure reading of a high order: brisk, fresh and full of color.” —Kirkus Reviews