Explorers of South-East Asia
is a collection of lives of six European
explorers active in Southeast Asia during the mid-to-late nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries. The explorers included had diverse
backgrounds and motivations. The Frenchman Henri Mouhot, who explored
areas of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, and the Norwegian Carl Bock,
who explored areas of Sumatra, Borneo and Thailand, were "amateur"
explorers and naturalists. Robert Burns, who ventured into the interior
of North-West Borneo seeking commercial openings and who was involved
in a wrangle with James Brooke of Sarawak, was a mysterious character;
little at all is known about his life (he may have been the grandson
of the famous poet).
The other three explorers acted in more official capacities. A.W.
Nieuwenhuis crossed Central Borneo and recorded valuable ethnographic
information about the Dayaks. Francis Garnier was involved in the most
dramatic feat of exploration covered, leading (with Doudart de Lagrée)
a French expedition up the Mekong into China. J.G. Scott was a British
official on the Burma frontier, whose career involved exploration of
the Shan and Wa states.
All the lives have bibliographies, but some of these are considerably
more substantial than others. They range from three and half pages on
Burns (possibly comprehensive) to a very brief list of Nieuwenhuis'
principal publications. Explorers of South-East Asia would be
a good starting point for anyone interested in the subject, whether
attracted by the history of exploration in general or through Southeast
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- Related reviews:
- books about Southeast Asia + Southeast Asian history
- books about exploration
- books published by Oxford University Press