The history of landscape photography is closely tied to the history of exploration. When I heard this, it changed my whole perspective on landscape photography. A light bulb went off and landscape photography went from ho-hum to interesting.
And this book, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West by Rebecca Solnit, immediately went onto my 'must read' list.
Eadweard Muybridge was one of the first photographers to capture the essence of a place and time through movement. He was born before the birth of photography and died after the advent of motion pictures, his worked was heavily influenced by the time in which he lived. Innovation and speed played a huge role is his perspective.