The Modern Library Exploration series edited by Jon Krakauer has
what are some of the best books on the topic of exploration. GREAT
EXPLORATION HOAXES is the newest in a series that has already
contained such titles as THE BRENDAN VOYAGE by Tim Severin and THE
MOUNTAINS OF MY LIFE by Walter Bonatti.
In GREAT EXPLORATION HOAXES (originally published in 1982) David
Roberts takes a close look at the motivation behind the altering of
facts of some of the greatest achievements by some of the world's
greatest explorers. The very idea that Admiral Byrd was not the
first one to actually fly over the true North Pole is unthinkable.
He had miscalculated his destination, something of which he was
well aware, but did he turn down the fame for the accomplishment?
Absolutely not. So, why would he play such a hoax on the
The idea that there have been some less than truthful tellings of
these adventures was at first surprising. I had always believed
that these great men were above such things. To my way of thinking,
a hoax was a sort of joke, and in the end, they would admit the
error. In fact, most of them did, but only in their private papers.
In GREAT EXPLORATION HOAXES, David Roberts delves into the
psychology of these explorers and presents some credible reasons
for their behavior.
If you are curious about what makes a person set out against all
odds of success on an expedition to discover new places --- or just
for the sake of being the first one there --- GREAT EXPLORATION
HOAXES is an excellent place to start. The complex personalities
that have taken such journeys are rare and exciting individuals, no
matter what their quest may have been. Climb the highest mountain,
travel the longest river, sail into the unknown --- it takes a
brave man to even think of such an idea. Perhaps even if the goal
is not fully attained, they deserve the credit anyway.
Reviewed by Dave Taylor on January 22, 2011