I rarely review books because the book review industry is very competitive. I get nervous about my informal approach and the many years that have passed since I've published anything of note. Sometimes, I can't resist a review opportunity and the chance to check out Off the Edge of the Map: Marco Polo, Captain Cook, and 9 Other Travelers and Explorers That Pushed the Boundaries of the Known World by Michael Rank was too good to pass up.
Perhaps you didn't know but I am a total geek when it comes to history and biography books. I majored in art history and took enough English classes that I should have minored in it (I'm still not a great writer). While I occasionally read my husband's Robin Cook books, what's often by my bed is a biography a notable historical figure or era in history.
The problem with many non-fiction leisure books is that they are long, too academic, and don't feature engaging aspects that turn non-fiction into enjoyment. I love books that offer a broad and condensed view of several lives because I can pick the book up and put it down without getting lost and I can simply enjoy a good, quick read.
Off the Edge of the Map offers the experience I desire. Chapters include a lot of interesting detail, but aren't so long that I grow bored. I can easily finish a chapter having learned exciting facts about a particular explorer one night and pick up the book to read about another explorer the next night.
Unlike more formal history books, Rank's writing is casually readable, but is by no means "Explorers for Dummies." Students may also find this book a valuable resource while studying world history as a way to learn about explorers they haven't heard of and perhaps learn unusual facts about the more famous explorers.
Author Michael Rank is also responsible for the #1 bestseller, History's Greatest Generals and hosts a podcast, History in Five Minutes.
I have been so pleased with Rank's book, Off the Edge of the Map, that I've decided to pass it along to a good friend who enjoys literature and have read a few pages to my pre-K daughter without her getting bored. That should say something!
Please visit Michael Rank's website for more information about his writing and podcast and be sure to grab a copy of his newest book for your Kindle on Amazon.
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for free as part of a review opportunity. The above review is my honest opinion and was not influenced by having received a free copy of the book.