Learn to unlock your inner explorer in this riveting account of a great, forbidding adventure and “a fascinating examination of the seven key traits of history’s most famous explorers…[with] infusions of insight and enthusiasm” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
In 1856, two intrepid adventurers, Richard Frances Burton and John Hanning Speke, set off to unravel a geographical unknown: the location of the Nile River’s source. They traveled deep into an uncharted African wilderness together, arrived at two different solutions to the mystery, and parted ways as sworn enemies. The feud became an international sensation on their return to England, and a public debate was scheduled to decide whose theory was correct. What followed was a massive spectacle with an outcome no one could have foreseen.
In The Explorers, New York Times bestselling author Martin Dugard shares the rich saga of the Burton and Speke expedition and guides readers through the seven traits that history’s most legendary explorers called on to survive their impossible journeys. In doing so, Dugard demonstrates that these traits have a most practical application in everyday life. We see St. Brendan the Navigator, driven by hope, sail into the unknown, and the curiosity that inspired John Ledyard to attempt to walk around the globe, and the perseverance Howard Carter needed to discover Tutankhamen’s tomb. From these and other examples, Dugard extracts lessons for unlocking the explorer in us all.
Dugard (The Training Ground) uses Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke's quest to find the Nile's source as a framing device to craft a fascinating examination of the seven key traits of history's most famous explorers. Curiosity, hope, passion, courage, independence, self-discipline, and perseverance, Dugard says, are crucial traits explorers must possess in order to achieve their goals: "Take away one... and an expedition was doomed to failure." He expands on this premise with examples of explorers who embodied (or lacked) those traits including Edmund Hillary's exploration of Everest, Columbus's quest for a new path to Asia, and Robert Falcon Scott's trek to the South Pole. Detailed accounts of vicious attacks (including cannibalism), blindness from extreme exposure, and the constant threat of severe illness demonstrate the pitfalls many explorers encountered. Even when they did reach their goal, it rarely resulted in material wealth Columbus, for example, was "considered a failure in his day." The ultimate prize was immortality. In lesser hands, this exercise could come off as pedantic or pedestrian, but Dugard's infusions of insight and enthusiasm carry the reader and drive his points home.
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