Ivo Klaver discusses the four major expeditions (Danish, French, Prussian, and British) which assembled scientific data in various parts of the Arab world between 1761 and 1881. These unique expeditions were sponsored by governments and official institutions, as opposed to expeditionsundertaken by individual collectors. As such they were aimed at satisfying a desire for national prestige in a European imperialistic context, either in the field of knowledge or in the field of trade. At the same time they were epic adventures for the brilliant and dedicated naturalists involved,several of whom paid with their lives for their single-minded determination to make new discoveries and record them.To date little work has been done on the botanical and zoological results of the Danish and French expeditions, and no study has yet dealt with the German and English ones. The expeditions are reconstructed through private letters and diaries of the naturalists which are brought together for thefirst time in a single book, and which throw fascinating new light on the personalities involved and the extreme hardships they endured. As such it is a major contribution to the study of travel in the Middle East in this period, as well as to the scientific treatment of the area.