A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler

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Harper Collins, May 30, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages
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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.

 

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Contents

See Things Better with My Feet
1
The Child in the Compass
7
Scarcely Worth Drowning
21
The Very Height of Expectation
31
Nor Sun Nor Moon
57
The Seven Gentlemen
83
A Smattering of Physic
99
A Whimsical Invalid
111
A Salvo Upon All Defects
209
White Mans Grave
237
My Dangerous and Novel Course
257
Assuming a More Alarming Character
287
The Arrival of an English Traveler
311
The Pleasure of His Intimacy
321
Raise the Soul to Flame
343
Acknowledgments
357

The Experimental Citizen
125
A Circuit of the World
147
True Sentiments and Powers
159
The Sleeping Land
187
Notes and Sources
359
Illustration Credits
381
OfFurther Interest
383
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About the author (2006)

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.

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