Text and photo by Ryan Bradley
Before the age of air travel and the invention of the global positioning system, when maps were still incomplete and the known world (Europe) stood apart from the unknown (the Far East, the Dark Continent, the New World), there was the journey. A new series of beautiful paperbacks pays hommage to ten of these iconic adventures, most of which are long, difficult, and irrationally glamorous. The series is called, appropriately, Great Journeys (Penguin).
With clever minimalist design, elegant typefaces, and a map on the two inside covers, Great Journeys is for all who long for an age of travel by trunk. The series includes Herodotus—the first travel writer—reporting on the Kingdoms of Egypt (Snakes with Wings and Gold-digging Ants), Anton Chekhov on the lawless lands of Siberia and the Amur (A Journey to the End of the Russian Empire), and Ernest Shackleton on his unsurpassable adventure on the White Continent (Escape from the Antarctica). Other contributors include Mark Twain, Marco Polo, Alexander Von Humboldt, and Cabeza de Vaca. First released in the UK last year and now available in the U.S. at $10 a pop, each slim paperback is a good size for trouser pockets, rucksacks, or slipping behind the tongue of a hobnail boot while dodging restless natives. (us.penguingroup.com)