Poole, Robert M. 1950(?)–

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POOLE, Robert M. 1950(?)–

PERSONAL: Born c. 1950, in NC. Education: University of North Carolina, B.A., 1971.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Group, 345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.

CAREER: Winston-Salem Journal, Winston-Salem, NC, former reporter; Media General News Service, Washington, DC, former correspondent; Boston Herald, Boston, MA, former Washington correspondent; National Geographic, writer and executive editor, 1980–2001.

AWARDS, HONORS: Washington Journalism Center, fellow, 1974.


Explorers House: National Geographic and the World It Made, Penguin Press (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: A former executive editor at the National Geographic, Robert M. Poole has produced a history of the well-known magazine and its rise from an academic journal with limited appeal to its morerecent iconic status. Explorers House: National Geographic and the World It Made begins with the vision of Gardner Green Hubbard, founder of the National Geographic Society, to bring geographic discoveries to a wider audience. The real tale begins with Hubbard's son-in-law, famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who gained control of the Society in 1898 when the magazine had a circulation of only one thousand. In addition to a wealth of journalistic ideas, such as stories on waltzing mice and the impact of yellow fever, Bell pushed for pictorial content, a decision that would bear fruit in the magazine's reputation for containing magnificent history of photography.

While National Geographic did well under Bell, it really took off under the editorship of his son-in-law, Gilbert Grosvenor, and the Grosvenor family has been closely linked with the magazine ever since. As Library Journal reviewer Donna Marie Smith noted, "Poole's book reads like an intriguing family saga while remaining a well-researched text." Indeed, commented a reviewer for the Economist, "Poole presents a plausible case for nepotism," revealing the impact that the public-spirited family had on bringing interesting stories and far-flung places to the attention of the American populace without obsessing about the bottom line. "Poole is not, however, blinkered by his association with the publication and writes candidly about bigoted editors, vapid articles, and dumb business decisions," as noted to Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor. The result, in the words of a Kirkus Reviews contributor, is a "gratifyingly evenhanded chronicle of the society's personalities and initiatives."



Booklist, October 1, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of Explorers House: National Geographic and the World It Made, p. 295.

Economist, October 16, 2004, review of Explorers House, p. 82.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Explorers House, p. 852.

Library Journal, February 1, 2005, Donna Marie Smith, review of Explorers House, p. 94.

Publishers Weekly, September 13, 2004, review of Explorers House, p. 68.


OntheMedia.org, http://www.onthemedia.org (December 17, 2004), Brooke Gladstone, interview with Poole.