Book Review: The New Age of Adventure

When it comes to covering the world of adventure, there are few, if any, publications that are as comprehensive and authoratative as National Geographic Adventure, which is currently ten years of amazing writing. In that first decade of its publication, Adventure has covered everything from climbing the world’s highest peaks to sailing the oceans and exploring remote jungles, along with much much more.

Many of the stories published in the magazine have garnered praise and won awards that go well beyond the adventure community, and the magazine has earned a reputation for top notch journalism.

To further celebrate this first decade of publication, a new books has just hit store shelves entitled The New Age of Adventure. The book compiles some of the very best articles that have graced the pages of Adventure over the past ten years, with such authors as Sebastian Junger, Laurence Gonzales, Peter Matthiessen, Jon Bowermaster and many more.

The book opens with an excellent introduction by John Rasmus, who is the founding editor of Adventure. In this intro, Rasmus looks back at the early days of the magazine, and some of the first stories that they published, as we closed out the 20th Century. He says that we are witnessing a change from an age of exploration to a new age, one of conversation.

It is from this changing focus that the book gets its title. Rasmus explains that there are fewer “blank spots” on the map now, and we understand that our planet needs to be preserved and protected, and that is where we’re headed in this new century.

Following the introduction, we’re on to the stories. 25 of them in fact. These articles span the globe from Afghanistan to the Sahara, on to Alaska, and beyond. The stories range in scope to epic stories of adventure to intimate portraits of the adventurers themselves. The articles are just as engrossing now as they were when they were first published, and a number of them have a brief follow-up at the end to give us a bit of insight as to how things may have changed sine they first appeared in the magazine.

It is difficult to single out any one or two of the articles from the others, as they are all fantastic. As I read the book, I often caught myself falling pray to “just one more” syndrome. As in “I’ll read just one more story before calling it a night.” I can only imagine how difficult it was to sift through all the back issues of Adventure and narrow down all the great stories to just these 25. But the ones we do get are all of superior quality and they will each leave a lasting impression on you.

Personally, I found Tim Cahill’s “The Lure of Impossible Places” to be quite excellent, as it really captured the spirit of adventure and exploration. David Robert’s “Out of Thin Air” was also quite interesting as well, chronicling the expedition to Everest that discovered the remains of Mallory. And Philip Caputo’s “Among the Man-Eaters” remains a fascinating piece on the lion prides of Kenya nearly ten years since it was first published.

I could go on and on about the outstanding writing and great stories, but you get the picture. Let me make this easy for you. If you’re a fan of National Geographic Adventure magazine, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book. In some ways it is a bit of a walk down memory lane, and in others it is a reminder of why we love adventure and exploration in all of its forms. While reading this book you’ll be inspired, humbled, and fascinated with each page you turn, which is exactly what Adventure has been doing for ten years. Congrats on the first decade, here’s to many more to come!

Kraig Becker

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