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A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler (Hardcover)
He was known simply as the Blind Traveler -- a solitary, sightless adventurer who, astonishingly, fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, and helped chart the Australian outback. James Holman (1786-1857) became "one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored," triumphing not only over blindness but crippling pain, poverty, and the interference of well-meaning authorities (his greatest feat, a circumnavigation of the globe, had to be launched in secret). Once a celebrity, a bestselling author, and an inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the charismatic, witty Holman outlived his fame, dying in an obscurity that has endured -- until now.
A Sense of the World is a spellbinding and moving rediscovery of one of history's most epic lives. Drawing on meticulous research, Jason Roberts ushers us into the Blind Traveler's uniquely vivid sensory realm, then sweeps us away on an extraordinary journey across the known world during the Age of Exploration. Rich with suspense, humor, international intrigue, and unforgettable characters, this is a story to awaken our own senses of awe and wonder.
About the Author
Jason Roberts is the inaugural winner of the Van Zorn Prize for emerging writers (sponsored by Michael Chabon) and a contributor to the "Village Voice, McSweeney's, The Believer, " and other publications. He lives in Northern California.
“Enthralling...inspiring A moving, mesmerizing biography.”
“An admirable work, testament to the determination, resourcefulness, and skill of not only its subject, but also its author.”
“Gives us a man who embraced wanderlust at a time when the continents and oceans were much, much bigger.”
-New York Times
“Through meticulous research…with intrigue and humor, Roberts brings Holman fully to life.”
“Roberts has achieved much. His research is meticulous and…a person lost to history is now rediscovered.”
-Denver Rocky Mountain News
“Vibrant...evok(es) with grace and wit the tale of this man once lionized as “The Blind Traveler.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Enthralling. A masterpiece of biography, travel writing and medical journalism.”
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Extraordinary…beautifully produced…Roberts made his hero one for the history books.”
“Holman’s remarkable life story, coupled with Roberts’ extraordinary gifts as a storyteller, make this a fascinating read.”
-Contra Costa Times
“A well-written popular history that will appeal to an audience interested in stories of individuals triumphing over physical difficulties.”
“A remarkable job of resurrecting Holman from obscurity, painting a portrait of a complex and compelling persona.”
“Roberts’s book is an excellent read.… An author with an enviable ability to tell the tale.
“(A) meticulous recreation of Holman’s world.”
“Roberts is a beautifully assured writer.”
“An imaginative journey (told with) enviable tact and skill.”
-Daily Telegraph (London)
“(a) talented and committed writer.”
-Raleigh News & Observer
“This warm-hearted and sensitive account should give Holman his due: a place in the pantheon of great travelers.”
“A tribute to an inspiring figure who, despite his blindness, was a far-sighted traveller.”
-Bath Chronicle (UK)
“Paints a convincing and well-researched picture of Holman’s early life…Holman’s first trip, to Russia, is particularly well-drawn.”
“Jason Roberts should be proud of his achievement in this sensitive and imaginative book.”
-Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Roberts wisely tells this extraordinary story without embellishment. The tale will fill you with wonder. In a word: remarkable.”
-Melbourne Herald Sun
“Holman’s life as told in this biography reads like a dare to get out of the house and live!”
-NPR's Holiday Book Roundup
“Fascinating...rich...I don’t expect to read a better [book] soon.”
“Painstakingly researched. Worth reading.”
“This excellent biography owes much to the wonderful balance the author achieves between detail and evocative description.”
-ABC Magazine (UK)