René Caillié: To Timbuktu And Back Alive

The modern traveler has little conception of the hardships and expense that were involved in the journeys of ages past.  Surrounded by comfort, his every whim catered to by a global tourism industry, he is blissfully unaware of the suffering and danger necessarily involved in travel to remote regions of the globe before the modern consumer age.  His chief preoccupations are the adjustment of his body to new time zones, the temperature of his air-conditioning, and the quality of his accommodations.  Perhaps it is well that this is so:  for nothing so unbalances the complacent mind than the realization that its perspective is based on narrow, parochial experience.  Knowledge can both liberate and destroy.

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Heinrich Barth: An Incredible Explorer And Ethnographer

The name Heinrich Barth is almost unknown today.  But he is without doubt the greatest explorer that Germany produced in the nineteenth century, and probably even in the twentieth.  Not only did he penetrate completely unknown regions of Africa, but he kept a meticulous record of his travels, to such an extent that his published works are still useful to scholars today.  Even in his own day he did not receive the recognition that he deserved; central Africa was then so unknown even to educated Europeans that a balanced appraisal of his work was not possible at the time.  Yet a review of his life and travels leaves little doubt that he must be ranked among the bravest and most resourceful of all explorers of the African continent.

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