Saturday, November 25, 2006

Explorer's House: National Geographic and the World it Made


Right now I am busy with a ton of stuff (including enjoying Thanksgiving!) but I am still finding time to read. And instead of reading a straight geography book I am reading Robert M. Poole's Explorers House: National Geographic and the World it Made.

It is hard to argue that the National Geographic Society and its magazine form what geography is to many in America and the rest of the world. Knowing the back story behind it helps understand it. Maybe then geographers will finally be able to accept National Geographic for what it is.

Those who read the book for heart pounding adventures by the explorers of National Geographic will be disappointed. The book follows Alexander Graham Bell then the Grosvenor family's dominance of the organization. The first half of the book deals almost entirely of Gilbert Grosvenor's neopotism reign of success and his love, yet strong doubts, of his son and successor Melville. The book goes on to discuss Gilbert Melville Grosvenor's reign and the slow dispersing of power he oversaw.

Poole is no longer with National Geographic and it shows towards the end. I will not ruin the ending or try to dissect Poole's point-of-view but I will say recent changes at the society by the new President John M. Fahey (which are well documented in the book) have more traditional elements up in arms.

While not a globe trotting adventure Explorers House is a good read for those who are interested in the Golden Framed Geographers.

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