As newspapers, including the NY Times, reduce their book reviewing, it’s harder and harder to know which current books I want to read. So I’ve been meaning to do more reviews here of books that aren’t necessarily professionally relevant but just interesting.
And then this came in the weekly Cody’s announcement — a reading of a terrific book:
Thursday, July 19 JASON ROBERTS considers A SENSE OF THE WORLD: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler. Now in paperback – with additional material – A SENSE OF THE WORLD is biography at its best: an entrancing work that vividly depicts the trials and triumphs of a life lived in full. James Holman (1786-1857) achieved near-mythic status as “The Blind Traveler”, embarking on adventures that included sledging through Siberia, fighting the slave trade off the African coast, and blazing paths through the Australian outback. When much of the world remained unmapped, the man who ventured further than any other was not an expedition leader, or even a professional explorer. He was a blind man, traveling alone. 7:00 PM in the store
This is a fascinating book — amazing story and very well-told. Holman was a British naval officer in the War of 1812 who went blind –Roberts gives what medical explanation anyone can come up with. And then he traveled all over the world, literally, and alone. There were many instances in which his traveling companions gave up, finding the route too demanding or dangerous, and he went on. He didn’t have a lot of money (the whole issue of his livelihood is itself an interesting story) so he traveled by public transportation, hired very basic transport, and rode horseback on strange roads alone. He was apparently also very appealing to women, which helped on occasion. Apparently any time he stopped traveling he got so depressed that his health declined, and the only cure was to hit the road.
For lovers of travel and/or adventure tales — this is both, to an extreme degree.