THE EXPLORERS : STORIES OF DISCOVERY AND ADVENTURE ON THE AUSTRALIAN FRONTIER, edited by Tim Flannery
How Acquired: a clearance bookstore in Houston, Texas
Reading Began: April 10, 2005
Completed Reading: May 14, 2005
Overall Rating: Six out of ten
Recommendation to others: This book is meant for fans of Australia (including its history) and for die-hard fans of nonfiction exploration stories. While it is a very good collection of exploration writings, it would likely bore the average reader.
Why I chose to read this book: I fit into the first category mentioned above : fan of Australia.
Comments: This book is nothing more than a reprinting of actual writings by those explorers of the Australian continent who defined its history, with commentary provided by the editor only as further clarification of a point here and there. It is compelling reading for what it is—especially to a reader like me who has no real sense of how the country became this land that fascinates me—but there came a point where I felt many of the writings were giving much the same accounts. It’s true: Australia is unforgiving terrain that claimed many a life and tortured many more. I felt that I was reading of this same thread again and again when what I really wanted was a new story. Some new discovery, as it occurred, instead of a rehashing of many (often mundane) days in these explorers’ efforts.
The stories did seem to get repetitive in the heart of the book, but that was simply due to the “heart” being midway in the exploration timeline (the book is compiled chronologically). I know that I was a bit biased in my reading, as well, as my own life began brimming with distraction at the same time; I wonder if I would have felt differently had I been able to give the stories more effort. As it was, I decided to skim the entire second half of the book, reading only the introductory paragraphs by Tim Flannery unless a particularly intriguing account was presented. I did read all of the writings of the female explorers, few as there were, to determine if the women saw the country and its difficulties through different eyes. [Some did, but mostly Australia is an equal opportunity nemesis.]
In the end, I can recommend this book to others, and I would be curious to hear responses from those who have the time to devote to its text. It’s a good compilation, though it seems much of one-note through most of the stories from the 19th century.