Wow. There is a whole lot of information packed into DK Smithsonian Journey, An Illustrated History of Travel ($65). The book was a bit intimidating when I pulled it from the box. I was expecting a beautiful book – and it is – but I wasn’t expected it to be so thick.
Journey begins highlighting humans’ first travels in the Ancient World from 3000 BCE to 400 CE and continues all the way into today, stopping along the way to showcase the Greek World; the Voyages of the Vikings, the New World; Adventurers in the Skies; and more.
Each chapter offers an introduction and highlights travel during the time period. There is the Age of Empires, The Age of Steam and The Golden Age of Flight, among others. We discover travel through information, photographs, art and relics such as a Greek passport and a Viking coin. There are photographs of people, ruins and examples of trains and aircraft through time.
Each section also highlights the time period’s famous explorers – Alexander the Great, Ibn Battuta, and Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), who Charles Darwin called the “greatest scientific travel who ever lived.”
According to the book, he also more natural items named after him, but his most “significant contribution of all may be as the first prophet of climate change.”
Humboldt said the Earth was one great living organism and that by “disrupting this natural order, man might bring about catastrophe.”
There was also a profile on Thomas Cook, who organized rail tours to keep people away from alcohol. Each person has a timeline of their significant dates in their lives as well as pictures.
The book also contains bits of journey-related information such as travel tags and posters, which were really neat. I also liked the information about the Cabinets of Curiosities, which were the precursor to museums and offered a look at unique items found from various places of travel.
This isn’t a book you can possibility read over the course of a few days. This is a book you would keep on your coffee table or in your library to flip through to learn more about humans and our desire to explore the world.
A copy of this book was provided by DK Books for an honest review.
The opinions are my own.