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For more than one hundred years, the National Geographic Society has brought "the world and all that is in it" to millions worldwide. Through its unparalleled research, exploration, publications, and photography, the organization and its magazine have, in many ways, defined how we see the world. Now Robert Poole's Explorers House gives a vibrant, behind-the-scenes look at For more than one hundred years, the National Geographic Society has brought "the world and all that is in it" to millions worldwide. Through its unparalleled research, exploration, publications, and photography, the organization and its magazine have, in many ways, defined how we see the world. Now Robert Poole's Explorers House gives a vibrant, behind-the-scenes look at National Geographic, from its start in 1888 to its evolution into one of the most esteemed and iconic American institutions. The story of the National Geographic is a family story of a media dynasty to rival the Sulzbergers or Luces. The Grosvenors, along with Alexander Graham Bell, who was linked to the family by marriage, created the institution's photography-based monthly, and the family has been on the masthead since the McKinley administration. Content to stay in the shadows, however, they have remained modestly obscured from public view while their media empire has grown to reach some forty million readers and viewers each month. The Grosvenor and Bell family history is not merely the story of the National Geographic; it is a captivating view of the sweep of American scientific, geographic, and political history since the late nineteenth century, rendered in fascinating human terms by Poole. Moreover, Explorers House shows the inside workings of the magazine's editorial process, providing an unprecedented look behind some of National Geographic's ground-breaking articles and explorations-from Cousteau's famous Calypso voyages to the origins of Jane Goodall's research on chimpanzees to the institution's 1963 Mt. Everest expedition, the first to place an American on the summit. We also hear of the writers and photographers who are larger than life figures themselves, such as Luis Marden, the writer-photographer who unearthed the remains of the H.M.S. Bounty off Pitcairn Island, among many other feats. Explorers House presents the National Geographic from the inside out-from its remarkable founding family to the very ends of the earth it investigates.


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For more than one hundred years, the National Geographic Society has brought "the world and all that is in it" to millions worldwide. Through its unparalleled research, exploration, publications, and photography, the organization and its magazine have, in many ways, defined how we see the world. Now Robert Poole's Explorers House gives a vibrant, behind-the-scenes look at For more than one hundred years, the National Geographic Society has brought "the world and all that is in it" to millions worldwide. Through its unparalleled research, exploration, publications, and photography, the organization and its magazine have, in many ways, defined how we see the world. Now Robert Poole's Explorers House gives a vibrant, behind-the-scenes look at National Geographic, from its start in 1888 to its evolution into one of the most esteemed and iconic American institutions. The story of the National Geographic is a family story of a media dynasty to rival the Sulzbergers or Luces. The Grosvenors, along with Alexander Graham Bell, who was linked to the family by marriage, created the institution's photography-based monthly, and the family has been on the masthead since the McKinley administration. Content to stay in the shadows, however, they have remained modestly obscured from public view while their media empire has grown to reach some forty million readers and viewers each month. The Grosvenor and Bell family history is not merely the story of the National Geographic; it is a captivating view of the sweep of American scientific, geographic, and political history since the late nineteenth century, rendered in fascinating human terms by Poole. Moreover, Explorers House shows the inside workings of the magazine's editorial process, providing an unprecedented look behind some of National Geographic's ground-breaking articles and explorations-from Cousteau's famous Calypso voyages to the origins of Jane Goodall's research on chimpanzees to the institution's 1963 Mt. Everest expedition, the first to place an American on the summit. We also hear of the writers and photographers who are larger than life figures themselves, such as Luis Marden, the writer-photographer who unearthed the remains of the H.M.S. Bounty off Pitcairn Island, among many other feats. Explorers House presents the National Geographic from the inside out-from its remarkable founding family to the very ends of the earth it investigates.

30 review for Explorers House: National Geographic and the World It Made

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    Poole's book gives an interesting and personal account of the family dynasty that ran the National Geographic Society, starting with its founding by Alexander Graham Bell and Gardiner Greene Hubbard in 1888. Poole's narrative focuses primarily on biographical details of the families as they related to world events covered by the Society. This book will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about how National Geographic began and grew since its inception, especially with respect to edi Poole's book gives an interesting and personal account of the family dynasty that ran the National Geographic Society, starting with its founding by Alexander Graham Bell and Gardiner Greene Hubbard in 1888. Poole's narrative focuses primarily on biographical details of the families as they related to world events covered by the Society. This book will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about how National Geographic began and grew since its inception, especially with respect to editing, subscription and content decisions. This book will be less interesting to professional historians seeking to understand how the Society fit in with broader themes in the 20th century American social and culture landscape. Poole often takes an overly fond, forgiving, or heroic view of the family members, which obscures important aspects of the publication's role in communicating ideas about science, race and various cultural others. At one particularly grating moment, Poole explains how Bell's eugenicist views can be compared to other funny views he had about things like telepathy and spiritualism, and can thus be separated from his other scientific beliefs and goals. This sort of contextualizing does a deep injustice to America's racist history. The racist views of the editors cannot be combed away from the content of the publication, and their importance is not comparable to other positions that we now view as pseudoscientific. This is not to say that Bell and others were not men of their time, but I disapprove of the move to try to purify the past to make it palatable to modern moral standards. As a final note, I find it odd that a book so focused on a discussion of photography didn't contain a single photo from the journal, and didn't at all engage with the rhetoric surrounding something like Susan Sontag's reflections from On Photography, which interrogates the relationship between images and politics.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    A really good history of the birth of a magazine. Amazing how many things in publishing haven't changed in more than a hundred years! A really good history of the birth of a magazine. Amazing how many things in publishing haven't changed in more than a hundred years!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rahni

    4.5 stars This isn't merely a history of a magazine--or perhaps it's not a history of a mere magazine? Advertising, inventions, expeditions, scientific curiosity, racism, Nazis, Everest expeditions, ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL, family legacies/family drama, appealing to the masses vs. the educated elite, the gradual technological shifts within the world of photography, office politics, the Depression, war(s), and--above all--cooperation to create an empire of enduring legacy and an ever-expanding bevy 4.5 stars This isn't merely a history of a magazine--or perhaps it's not a history of a mere magazine? Advertising, inventions, expeditions, scientific curiosity, racism, Nazis, Everest expeditions, ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL, family legacies/family drama, appealing to the masses vs. the educated elite, the gradual technological shifts within the world of photography, office politics, the Depression, war(s), and--above all--cooperation to create an empire of enduring legacy and an ever-expanding bevy of entertaining and informative magazines, television programs, movies, atlases, maps, and everything else they've got going on. A former NatGeo editor, Poole mainly explores the creation and continuity of the society (primarily the magazine) through following the co-mingling of the Bell and Grosvenor families in great detail. He addresses the Society's faults and blemishes (mainly the nepotism (natch) and racism (unexpected--by me--from a people so connected to societies and peoples beyond their own milieu) practiced, which I appreciated). Bell's wonderful wife, Mabel, was very concerned that whoever wrote her husband's biography show his weaknesses as well as his strengths. She loved him a great deal, but the whole man--not just the palatable parts. Though he seriously sounds like a pretty stand-up guy--warm-hearted, energetic, and more practical than one would expect in a certified genius. Poole seems to do the same here--revealing the flaws as well as the triumphs experienced by the society and its makers. It's very readable and well-written. I obviously never even opened it when I bought it 10+ years ago or else I would've plunked down and gone on a tear. Though maybe you have to be in the right mood? I was well primed, having just traveled down the River of Doubt in the Amazon with Theodore Roosevelt in Candice Millard's must-read book. Also, it made me want to rewatch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. And yes, I am now a member of the National Geographic Society. Not a subscriber, but a member, mind you. (Having sold many, many B&N memberships, that bit of marketing rumination of "member" vs. "subscriber" mentality cracked me up.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jim Woolwine

    The Grosvenor family dynasty is not adequate fodder for a page turning biographical history but one talent the generations did share was the marketing genius to transform National Geographic Magazine into a huge commercial success. When subscriptions dipped add in a few voluptuous natives and sales rebound. What was news to me was that the magazine's writers sometimes served under CIA cover, that the Society provided the FBI office space to monitor the near-by Soviet Embassy, and that the Grosven The Grosvenor family dynasty is not adequate fodder for a page turning biographical history but one talent the generations did share was the marketing genius to transform National Geographic Magazine into a huge commercial success. When subscriptions dipped add in a few voluptuous natives and sales rebound. What was news to me was that the magazine's writers sometimes served under CIA cover, that the Society provided the FBI office space to monitor the near-by Soviet Embassy, and that the Grosvenors were rabidly anti-Semitic and the Society remained off-limits to African-Americans well into the '60's and '70's. A significant portion of the narrative covers National Geographic's role in promoting Robert Peary's controversial claim that he was the first explorer to reach the North Pole. The claim was contested by another explorer, Frederick Cook. Apparently neither of them actually did reach the North Pole, but the National Geographic, as Peary's sponsor, orchestrated public acceptance of Peary's claim and of course, the National Geographic sold millions recording the North Pole exploration. The power of friends in high places, money, and marketing prowess.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jill Poulsen

    Lots of great information here as a jumping off point for further research.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Janeen Rawson

    got bored early on but stuck with it and learned quite a bit

  7. 5 out of 5

    Quo

    Explorers House: The National Geographic & the World It Made by Robert Poole, Executive Editor at the National Geographic for more than 20 years, documents the long history of this iconic American institution with a global reach, a magazine that considered itself 1st & foremost a society of elected members rather than mere journal subscribers. Poole's exhaustive march from the founding of NG in 1888 to the present, observes the many changes in marketing outreach, mode of scientific inquiry, cove Explorers House: The National Geographic & the World It Made by Robert Poole, Executive Editor at the National Geographic for more than 20 years, documents the long history of this iconic American institution with a global reach, a magazine that considered itself 1st & foremost a society of elected members rather than mere journal subscribers. Poole's exhaustive march from the founding of NG in 1888 to the present, observes the many changes in marketing outreach, mode of scientific inquiry, cover design and enhancements in camera, film & printing techniques. Absent is almost any real inclusion of photos or examples of the prose that made the National Geographic without a rival, at least for the 1st century of its existence. There is however voluminous detail of the Grosvenor family & the administrative hierarchy of the magazine through the years, including the many factional & family squabbles. For even during the high-water point for the magazine, the National Geographic was a family enterprise, with the Grosvenors a journalistic "Royal Family" making the operation quite inbred, even while gradually gaining a global audience. Early on, the inventor Alexander Graham Bell comes on the scene at the National Geographic Society, founded by Gardiner Hubbard & Alexander Melville Bell, compromising the latter Bell's scientific career. One of my earliest memories in reading the magazine as a young boy involved the notice of ads for southern hotels in the back of issues of the journal with the notation "clientele carefully restricted". This seemed a bit cryptic to me at the time but Robert Poole offers testimony that while aiming for cross-cultural coverage with its photo images, the NGS retained a rather racist & anti-Semitic stance through much of its history, including during the reign of Gilbert Grosvenor, whose father "regarded Jews as another tribe, strange & apart, not equal to his own social order." Founded as a Not-for-Profit venture & initially an obscure learned organization, for most of its history, the National Geographic subscribers had to be "nominated" for membership, though the process of nomination was always rather informal and absent were any initiation rituals or secret oaths. And there seems to have been an ongoing intramural contest over whether photo images or textual coverage would reign supreme within the National Geographic. Change never came easy at the magazine, even as reading habits & social norms began to alter. It was said that the "National Geographic's way is to hold up the torch, not to apply it". This time-honored approach meant that the changing racial climate in the United States was largely ignored and the author makes note of staff members working late on a story about hyenas, seemingly oblivious to the deteriorating conditions outside their windows on the evening when D.C. was in flames in the aftermath of the Martin Luther King assassination. There is coverage of the 1st successful Everest expedition, Robert Peary's exploration of the Arctic, the search for Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham & the quest to recover the H.M.S. Bounty at Pitcairn Island. Fast forward to the occasion of the centennial celebration of the National Geographic in 1988, when Jacques Cousteau, former astronaut & Senator John Glenn, Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey, Sir Edmund Hillary, President George H.W. Bush and other dignitaries + the ruling elite of the N.G. gathered to pay tribute to the enduring legacy of the National Geographic magazine & the institution behind it. The National Geographic has played at least a small role in the lives of many of us and today it is a much-expanded operation, with other magazines, including one aimed at children and book & television-film media divisions, as well as the core magazine, the subscriber base for which appears much diminished due to changing social tastes and the move away from print and towards digital media. While I enjoyed Robert Poole's rendering of the long history of the National Geographic, I was disappointed that the actual core content of the magazine was treated almost as an afterthought.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth K.

    This was pretty nifty, essentially a biography of the family that had the reins of the National Geographic Society and magazine for most of its history, starting with Alexander Graham Bell and then continuing with his son-in-law, grandson, and great-grandson. It's easy to see the continuity of the philosophies and leadership that created the institution that is National Geographic. Well, it IS literally an institution, but in the cultural icon sense as well. Is there anyone in America who wouldn This was pretty nifty, essentially a biography of the family that had the reins of the National Geographic Society and magazine for most of its history, starting with Alexander Graham Bell and then continuing with his son-in-law, grandson, and great-grandson. It's easy to see the continuity of the philosophies and leadership that created the institution that is National Geographic. Well, it IS literally an institution, but in the cultural icon sense as well. Is there anyone in America who wouldn't be able to identify a National Geographic at 50 yards? And inasmuch as I personally have fond memories of National Geographic (and World - honestly, I still bring up trivia facts I learned from reading World), the author is candid about the aspects of the organization's history that probably weren't quite so endearing for the people involved. The focus of this book is really on the people -- mostly the Grosvenor family and other key managers, but some nice anecdotes about writers and photographers as well. There's some good information about the innovative ways the magazine used photography, although that aspect is merely touched upon because that's a huge topic that could really rate its own book. The Machu Picchu discovery pictures and the 1930s Berlin "It's So Tidy!" spread got mentions ... but, I wanted more. Grade: A very strong B+, and probably more like A- based on subject matter for very hardcore fans of National Geographic. Recommended: Clearly, to people who like National Geographic, and probably also to people who are interested in business or media history.

  9. 4 out of 5

    rully

    buku sejarah yang ditulis secara komprehensif oleh seorang redaktur yang terlibat selama kurang lebih 20 tahun bersama national geographic. tidak sekedar "membesarkan" nama NatGeo yang memang sudah besar, Robert M Poole juga menuliskan kejadian - kejadian yang tidak menyenangkan atau bahkan konflik yang pernah terjadi di dalam tubuh NatGeo, atau juga bentrokan antara sisi idealis redaktur muda yang bertemu dengan sisi bisnis seorang presiden NatGeo Society. kurang lebih itu yang bisa saya tangka buku sejarah yang ditulis secara komprehensif oleh seorang redaktur yang terlibat selama kurang lebih 20 tahun bersama national geographic. tidak sekedar "membesarkan" nama NatGeo yang memang sudah besar, Robert M Poole juga menuliskan kejadian - kejadian yang tidak menyenangkan atau bahkan konflik yang pernah terjadi di dalam tubuh NatGeo, atau juga bentrokan antara sisi idealis redaktur muda yang bertemu dengan sisi bisnis seorang presiden NatGeo Society. kurang lebih itu yang bisa saya tangkap selama membaca buku ini, sampai saat ini baru sampai chapter 10, sudah sekitar 5 bulan gak kelar2 bacanya, maklum bahasa inggris pas2an, trus di seling sama baca buku lain. overall, buku ini enak dibaca, gaya penulisan sangat lugas tidak bertele namun tetap menyampaikan detail pada beberapa kejadian. Buku ini mengisahkan sejarah NatGeo sejak awal, dari era Keluarga Grosvernor turun ke masa Alexander Graham Bell hingga Era Awal 90-an

  10. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    In 2001, Robert M. Poole retired as executive editor of National Geographic after a twenty-one-year career. It's fitting that Poole authored this detailed and critical history of the National Geographic Society http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ and its founding family. In 1888 inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell and blue-blood Bostonian, Gardiner Hubbard, co-founded the National Geographic Society http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National... By Fall of he same year, they launched the f In 2001, Robert M. Poole retired as executive editor of National Geographic after a twenty-one-year career. It's fitting that Poole authored this detailed and critical history of the National Geographic Society http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ and its founding family. In 1888 inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell and blue-blood Bostonian, Gardiner Hubbard, co-founded the National Geographic Society http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National... By Fall of he same year, they launched the first issue of the National Geographic magazine with articles on volcanism and botany. The Society organization grew, but the magazine stalled until Gilbert H. Grosvenor, a young schoolteacher, signed on as editor. The Grosvenor family and the magazine have been linked ever since. (lj)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Grindy Stone

    This one is for all those National Geographic Society members out there who receive their regular issue and place it on a shelf or on the coffee table, unread. You can do the same with this book and not miss anything - it focuses overwhelmingly on the family that runs the society and the tedium of running the magazine, with little about the topics contained in the average issue. Lots of periodicals have received their due with great corporate histories - the New York Times, Time, Playboy, the Ne This one is for all those National Geographic Society members out there who receive their regular issue and place it on a shelf or on the coffee table, unread. You can do the same with this book and not miss anything - it focuses overwhelmingly on the family that runs the society and the tedium of running the magazine, with little about the topics contained in the average issue. Lots of periodicals have received their due with great corporate histories - the New York Times, Time, Playboy, the New Yorker - but National Geographic is not one of them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    The best part of this book in my opinion was the historical connections surrounding Alexander Graham bell. The other thing that I really enjoyed about the book was when it delved into the background of some of the stories and the characters that produced those stories during Geographic's golden years. I am not sure if I was more disappointed in the way the book handled the modern era or the sad decline of the magazine itself. This book tried to cover a lot of ground and really only whetted my ap The best part of this book in my opinion was the historical connections surrounding Alexander Graham bell. The other thing that I really enjoyed about the book was when it delved into the background of some of the stories and the characters that produced those stories during Geographic's golden years. I am not sure if I was more disappointed in the way the book handled the modern era or the sad decline of the magazine itself. This book tried to cover a lot of ground and really only whetted my appetite for more information on a number of topics.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A well written book about an interesting group of people.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pierre-Alexandre Buisson

    Very interesting, although the writing is at times sloppy and not always captivating.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dustin

    Fascinating portrait of the men who built this wonderful and venerable institution.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    While this was an interesting history of the National Geographic Society, one thing bothers me about this book; the title. I still think there needs to be an apostrophe somewhere in "Explorers." While this was an interesting history of the National Geographic Society, one thing bothers me about this book; the title. I still think there needs to be an apostrophe somewhere in "Explorers."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Sadly, this seems to have gone out of print already. It's worth finding in your local library, however. Sadly, this seems to have gone out of print already. It's worth finding in your local library, however.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    A fascinating history. I had no idea that Alexander Graham Bell had anything to do with National Geographic.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jim Bremser

    A great history of the National Geographic Society and how it shaped our world.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy Collins

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    NOT AT LIB 1/07 -- Delphica - http://delphica.livejournal.com/31244... NOT AT LIB 1/07 -- Delphica - http://delphica.livejournal.com/31244...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  27. 5 out of 5

    Milly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Hughs

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christine

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