The National Geographic Society is celebrating its 125th Anniversary with National Geographic 125 Years: Legendary Photographs, Adventures, and Discoveries That Changed the World, a coffee table book loaded with hundreds of eye candy photos (e.g. Steve McCurry's iconic Afghan Girl) that everyone loves looking at in the magazine with the yellow border. However, it started as a somber, struggling journal by leading naturalists and scientists of the late-Victorian era. Telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell rescued it from obscurity by hiring his son-in-law Gilbert H. Grosvenor as editor, who transformed it into a popular magazine through the extensive use of photos to bring society-sponsored explorations and articles to life for readers.
Explorers house: National Geographic and the World It Made is a lively, informative insider look by retired editor Robert M. Poole. He focuses on the three-generation Grosvenor family dynasty (Gilbert H., Melville Bell and Gilbert M.) that ran the society and its magazine for most of the 20th century. He not only applauds their achievements and innovations in building National Geographic, but doesn't gloss over their weaknesses in reflecting the views and prejudices of their times, especially family patriarch Gilbert H., who championed Robert Peary's claim as the first person to reach the North Pole despite underwhelming evidence, excluded blacks from society membership with rare exceptions, was anti-Semitic, and published articles during the 1930s that overlooked the evil of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
Van Lingle Mungo @ Central