National Geographic Looks Back on the World

A new three-book collection of photographs from the 125-year-old magazine’s archives provides an incredibly vibrant look at life from every corner of the globe. 

It’s not a stretch to say that National Geographic magazine has informed the way many people view the world. From moments so universally familiar that they transcend cultures to sights so moving that they are impossible to forget, its visual record of life across the globe is as iconic as it is comprehensive.

Capitalizing on that thoroughness, National Geographic: Around the World in 125 Years (Taschen, $500), a three-volume collector’s edition that debuted this month, showcases more than a thousand photographs that have appeared in the magazine during its lifetime. Spanning the Americas and Antarctica (volume 1), Europe and Africa (volume 2) and Asia and Oceania (volume 3), it features work by photographers like Frans Lanting, Steve McCurry, Jodi Cobb and James Nachtwey—all of whom prove that a picture really is worth a thousand (or more) words.

Here we offer an exclusive look at a sampling of images from the books.