Adam Olearius: Amazing Travels And Explorations In Russia And Persia

In the early seventeenth century, the steppes of Russia were almost entirely unknown to western Europeans.  Forests were thicker than they are now, roads were fewer and more difficult to navigate, and travel required much more money and resources than it does now.  One had to be sponsored by a wealthy patron, or be an official representative of a government.  It is to this latter category that the German explorer Adam Olearius (1599–1671)  belonged; he was one of the first westerners to penetrate deeply into Russia and Persia, and the account he left behind is one of the more fascinating works of travel literature that I have seen in recent years.

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The Incredible Life And Explorations Of John Ledyard

Of all the explorers and travelers I have written about, few are as fascinating and as little-known today as the American adventurer John Ledyard.  He lived from 1751 to 1789, during the seminal years of American history; and his travels across the globe (especially in Russia and Siberia) mark him out as a man who deserves far more recognition than he has received from posterity.  In fact, as I was researching his life in preparation for this article, I could hardly believe that his name had sunk into such undeserved oblivion.  Let us give him his due now.

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