The Four Voyages: Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives by Christopher Columbus
What type of man was Christopher Columbus? Eccentric? A madman? The greatest explorer that ever lived? Draw your own conclusions through an examination of the journals of Columbus himself, where he chronicles the build up to the initial 1492 journey and all the expeditions that followed.
“I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone.”
Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
Cultural explorer Wilfred Thesiger went to the wild deserts of the Middle East to seek out respite from the oppression of society. While there he became the first man to cross the Rub’ al Khali, aka “The Empty Quarter.” The Empty Quarter is one of the largest sand deserts in the world. Compromising a large portion of the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula, it is composed of 250,000 square miles of the most deadly terrain on terra firma. Thesiger set out to cross this great expanse and planned to create a map of the region during his journey. He succeeded, crossing the vast unknown of the Empty Quarter not once, but twice, between 1946 and 1949.
“For years the Empty Quarter had represented to me the final, unattainable challenge which the desert offered…To others my journey would have little importance. It would produce nothing except a rather inaccurate map which no one was ever likely to use. It was a personal experience, and the reward had been a drink of clean, nearly tasteless water. I was content with that.”
The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons by John Wesley Powell
A masterful description of the Colorado River as told by the leader of the first expedition to follow the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. A must for whitewater river rats.
High Adventure by Edmund Hillary
Hillary’s own account of he and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s 1953 summit of Mount Everest, the first confirmed Everest summit ever.
“My solar plexus was tight with fear as I ploughed on. Halfway up I stopped, exhausted. I could look down 10,000 feet between my legs, and I have never felt more insecure.”
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Journey by Alfred Lansing
The bestselling account of Shackleton’s legendary Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which changed from an ambitious expedition to a brutal struggle for survival against the extremes of Antarctica. Lansing’s extensive research into Shackleton’s journals and interviews with surviving crew members provides thrilling insight into the harrowing ordeal faced by the men of the Endurance.
Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival by Yossi Ghinsberg
Personalities conflict and wills are tested as an unlikely group of backpackers becomes lost in the wild in this modern day tale of survival set against the backdrop of the Amazon rainforest.
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
When Joe Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates set out to climb the treacherous Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes, they knew they were undertaking a very dangerous task. When an accident sends Joe crashing into a ravine, Simon assumes his death and is forced to continue on without him. Left alone and critically injured, Simpson proceeds to crawl down the glacier, arriving barely alive at his base camp 3 ½ days later. An astonishing tale of one man’s will to survive.
Into the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
Hailed as the story that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, this sea story recounts the experiences of the Whaleship Essex, which was attacked and sunk by an irate sperm whale in 1820. Following the attack, some of the crew escape to a local island where they are slowly ravaged by hunger and disease, eventually resorting to cannibalism to survive.
Alive by Piers Paul Read
The dreadful account of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed in the Andes Mountains carrying a Uruguayan Rugby team and friends. Alone for seventy two days with no other resources available, the survivors found themselves forced into eating their own dead to survive.
Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King
Dean King’s reexamination of the 1815 wreck of the Commerce off the coast of Africa and the unbelievable hardships faced by crew as they struggled to survive in the deadly Sahara Desert is one of the greatest survival stories ever told. Keep a tall glass of water next to you while reading, you’ll never appreciate it more.