The Devil May Care: Fifty Intrepid Americans and Their Quest for the Unknown

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Tony Horwitz
Oxford University Press, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 283 pages
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Stripped naked and pursued across cactus-studded plains by a band of armed Blackfoot Indians, John Colter escaped certain death to become the one of the most durable characters in western American history. But Colter's harrowing tale was not beyond the ordinary when compared to the adventures of other American explorers. In The Devil May Care, popular historian and travel writer Tony Horwitz has culled through the American National Biography and selected fifty stirring biographies of adventurers who had no one's footsteps to follow in--and yet contributed enormously to our understanding of the world.
Horwitz introduces us to fascinating individuals such as John Ledyard, the first American to see what would become the Pacific Northwest, and Elisha Kent Kane, America's first arctic hero, who stumbled upon an extremely strange remedy for scurvy while icebound off of Ellesmere Island. Having set off into the unknown many times himself as a foreign correspondent, Horwitz brings a subtle sense of humor and a reporter's eye for detail to a collection that offers a glimpse inside the lives of historic Americans who brazenly challenged danger as they pursued their wanderlust to extreme climates and forbidding environments.
Beginning with a short essay, Horwitz seeks his own definition of exploration, drawing on some of his research into the voyages of Captain James Cook and considering its larger implications throughout history. Archival photographs as well as a lively and personal introduction to each story by Horwitz further enhance the appeal of a volume that winds its way through several centuries of American exploration, affirming that the best adventure stories are the true ones.

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The devil may care: fifty intrepid Americans and their quest for the unknown

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Question: what do Railroad Bill, Ishi, Grizzly Adams, John Colter, and Marie Dorion have in common? Besides having an entry in the massive American National Biography (ANB), their lives were marked by ... Read full review

Contents

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About the author (2003)


Tony Horwitz is the best-selling author of Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, Baghdad Without a Map, and One for the Road. He is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and a staff writer for The New Yorker. He lives in Virginia with his wife, novelist Geraldine Brooks, and their son, Nathaniel.

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