Since 1888, National Geographic magazine has provided readers with an escape to the most obscure and fantastical places on Earth and now, in honor of the magazine’s 125th anniversary, Taschen has published National Geographic: Around the World in 125 Years. The 1,468 pages of photos in this three-volume tour through the magazine’s history are nearly as rich and breathtaking as the planet they document.
The photographs–many previously unpublished–range from black-and-white to Kodachromes to digital, chronicling the evolution of the magazine’s classic photo-essay medium. Volume I presents a comprehensive tour of the Americas and Antarctica. Volume II covers the wonders of Europe and Africa, and Volume III crosses the Indian Ocean to explore Asia and Oceania. As American author Douglas Brinkley writes in an introductory essay, “The hope, as ever, is that providing unforgettable pictures of and commentary on the Earth–and all that is in it and beyond it–will continue to spark a passion for protection.”
Volume I opens with a photograph of an explorer with a beard of frost: Icicles hang from his mustache like walrus tusks. “It’s wild as anywhere, and you’re on the edge of danger all the time. We don’t have to go looking for it. It’s right here among us,” Bill Richards wrote in “Alaska’s South East, A Place Apart,” in the January 1994 issue.
Included in the stunning visuals of Alaska’s icy wilderness are an Eskimo posing in a parka made of walrus intestine–air-cured, sliced, and sewn together with waterproof stitches. Members of the 1903 Ziegler Polar Expedition row to the SS America, with three pirate ship-like masts and billowing square sails. And a spirit bear–a rare, white-furred subspecies of the North American Black Bear–munches on fresh-caught salmon, blood red against the green foliage of British Columbia.
The history and sheer beauty in these pages is overwhelming. This is one of those inexhaustible series of books that readers will return to and pass on to new generations, rediscovering and reconnecting with images that range from the hilarious (a serious gentleman holding a squirming possum) to the heartbreaking (Plains tribesman after the 1890 Indian Wars).
The three-volume set comes in a slipcase that converts into a bookstand for display. You can buy National Geographic: Around the World In 125 Years for $499 here.