In the opening of his recent volume, Nature and History in the Potomac Country, historian James D. Rice informs his readers that the idea for the book began with what he perceived as a ‘hole in the map’ (p. 1).
The Summits of Modern Man: Mountaineering After the Enlightenment is both a more narrowly focussed and a more widely cast book than its title would suggest. The core of the work focusses on one physical mountain, and the activities which took place upon and around it from the 18th century onwards: Mont Blanc, the white mountain, and the highest peak in Europe.
Englishmen have always travelled. According to French Abbé Le Blanc, they travelled more than other people of Europe because `they look upon their isle as a sort of prison; and the first use they make of their liberty is to get out of it'.(1) For young elite males who travelled to France and Italy for up to five years, the Grand Tour was, most historians agree, ‘intended to provide the final ed