Luis Marden: New Mexico, 1939.
While a confused motorist receives directions from a state trooper, a dog doesn’t look like it plans on going anywhere.

B. Anthony Stewart, New York, 1957.
The Mayflower II, a scale replica of the original, enters New York Harbor.

Steve Winter, Mexico, date uncertain.
A strange sight to encounter in a Mexican dugout canoe: two captive jaguars snuggle and bare their fangs for the photographer.

Frans Lanting, Ecuador, 2008.
A group of Galapagos tortoises in the caldera of Isabela Island’s Alcedo Volcano, which usually harbors several thousand of the lumbering reptiles. Though such numbers are impressive, the Alcedo subspecies lacks the genetic diversity found in other Galapagos tortoises, each subspecies of which occupies its own island in the archipelago. Some scientists believe that might be the result of a catastrophic eruption on Alcedo some 100,000 years ago.

Gordan Gahan, East Germany, 1973.
The old timber-framed town of Stolberg, seen from its overhanging castle. It winds down into a misty Harz Mountains valley. The old resort had survived the turbulent course of German history largely intact, although the family of the prince of Stolberg-Stolberg had been dispossessed of its castle in 1945, when the town fell into the Soviet Occupation Zone, which eventually became that Marxist satellite state, the German Democratic Republic.

Paul Nicklen, Antarctica, 2012.
An emperor penguin shoots through the water, gaining the needed momentum to launch itself clear of a hole in the Ross Sea pack ice.

John Burcham, Arizona, 2005.
Photographer Michael Nichols prepares to photograph the Grand Canyon from Toroweap Overlook. His challenge was to depict the iconic and familiar Canyon in a fresh way, to "work through the cliches so you can get to the good stuff," he said. "It's incredibly difficult technically, but I don't want anybody to see the technical when they see the picture. It's supposed to be spiritual."

Chris Johns, South Africa, 1995.
Carrying a walking stick and a bow, a Bushman watches relatives stride across the dunes near the boundary of Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Although their ancestors have hunted in these deserts for thousands of years, the Bushmen, also known as the San, have had to fight for continued access to this sanctuary--established in 1931 to protect migrating gemsbok and other herbivores--and to Botswana's Gemsbok National Park as well.

Steve McCurry, Sri Lanka, 1995.
Perched on wooden stilts, Singhalese men fish for spotted herring in the monsoon-lashed surf pounding Sri Lanka’s south coast. When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami crashed over these same beaches, it took the lives of 35,000 Singhalese with it.

Paul A. Zahl, Australia, 1977.
This six-inch weedy sea dragon is in for a surprise: The sneaky female of the species has deposited her 100 to 250 eggs beneath his tail, then fled into the seaweed. He's left to fertilize them and to spend the next three to six weeks protecting the pink mass until the eggs hatch.

Jodi Cobb, Papua New Guinea, 2000.
The annual sing-sing, or tribal festival, near the village of Garong. The Asaro mud men cover themselves with river clay and don ferocious masks in imitation of those ancestors who first assumed the disguises to frighten off enemies.

125 Years of Awesome National Geographic Photos In One Book

A new book celebrates National Geographic's 125th anniversary with a retrospective of photographs as breathtaking as the planet they document.

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.

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