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A Man of the World

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

My Life at National Geographic

By Gilbert M. Grosvenor

and Mark Collins Jenkins

An Interesting and Enlightening Biography



“You may not know my name, but chances are you have encountered my family legacy.” starts Gilbert Grosvenor in the prologue to the biographical story of his role at National Geographic. Grosvenor, a Yale graduate, followed in the footsteps of four generations of family members at the National Geographic Society, including his great-grandfather Alexander Graham Bell.

A Man of the World highlights Grosvenor’s family history as well as his rise through the ranks at National Geographic starting in 1954. Grosvenor was witness to six decades of exploration and education by National Geographic with the likes of Jane Goodall, Jacques Cousteau, Robert Peary, and Louis Leakey. Grosvenor served as Editor, President, and Chairman of the Society and shepherded the early days of evolution from a print media empire with the iconic yellow-bordered gloss print magazine to also include a website, social media, television, books, film, and many other educational initiatives.


I loved getting my hands on those beautiful yellow-bordered magazines each month. My father gave me a subscription as a Christmas gift when I was twelve, and I was forever enamored. The photography was awesome, and I was soon dreaming of becoming a National Geographic photographer one day. Coincidentally, my first subscription occurred about the same time that Gilbert Grosvenor had become editor of the magazine.

One of my favorite stories Grosvenor shares in this book was his 1979 invitation to an expedition to the North Pole. That story hooked me; not only did he dive under the North Pole ice, but while underwater, he suspended himself upside down and took four steps on the underside of the North Pole ice. He had walked under the North Pole.

A Man of the World is an interesting and enlightening biography. I loved reading about the explorations sponsored by National Geographic and especially appreciated the behind-the-scenes look at National Geographic’s management. I was disappointed that very few women had played any leadership role in the company. When Grosvenor finally recruited a highly qualified woman, she was subsequently passed over for promotion by others and sadly forced to leave for a better offer.

I listened to the audiobook and would rate the overall performance, pacing, and inflection as good. National Geographic fans will love this book.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher National Geographic

Published September 13, 2022

Narrated Jason Culp

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