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. Agent: Eric Simonoff, William Morris Endeavor. (June)
“Martin Dugard has written bestselling histories with Bill O’Reilly, and with me, but with The Explorers, he shows that he does his best work as a solo performer. The Explorers has a distinctive voice and the drama never flags from beginning to end.”
“This is an exciting and uplifting book, with inspiration on every page. You don’t have to be in search of the source of the Nile to benefit from understanding the seven habits of fearless explorers.”
“Using his usual brilliant research, Martin Dugard takes the reader on a thrill ride to some of the most dangerous places on earth. Can you handle it?"
An account of the search for the source of the Nile River, mixed in with psychological and sociological lessons to be gleaned from the explorers’ story.Dugard (To Be a Runner, 2011, etc.), who co-authored the Killing… books by Bill O’Reilly, gives gripping treatment to the mid-1800s Richard Francis Burton–John Hanning Speke African adventure, despite the intrusion of a warrantless theory of traits to explain the human urge to explore. It was a curious mingling—the outsized, egotistical personality of Burton with the introverted, disciplined Speke. But as Dugard presents in this enjoyable re-creation of their hellacious journey, they still made considerable discoveries in the wilds of Africa. Then, their very public post-expedition argument provided another angle of melodrama to the already highly colored world of exploration. A number of other explorers get drawn into Dugard’s picture—e.g., Christopher Columbus, Edmund Hillary, Alexander von Humboldt—and the author has a talent for making even the smallest appearance another gratifying ingredient to illustrate our human desire to explore the unknown. However, when Dugard tries to tie a bow around this company of misfits by advancing the notion that they all possess seven traits, the narrative gets forced into a straitjacket. There isn’t a single explorer, or even individual, who would not benefit from possessing curiosity, hope, passion, courage, independence, self-discipline and perseverance, and Dugard fails to make the case that “[t]ake away one—just one—and an expedition was doomed to failure.” Further, the author inflates his focus to include ambition, sacrifice, “ethics and morals,” creative intelligence and a host of other premium qualities—“Their trick was to be bold, even when they were cold, wet, tired, hungry, miserable, or sick”—while playing down or ignoring altogether the less savory grandiosity, simple commercialism or pure greed that certainly afflicted the explorers at various points throughout their journeys.A fine adventure yarn nearly sapped by a gratuitous hook.
"Using his usual brilliant research, Martin Dugard takes the reader on a thrill ride to some of the most dangerous places on earth. Can you handle it?" —“Bill O'Reilly
"A captivating introduction to the world of exploration. . . Dugard knows how to tell a good story and assembles a fascinating cast of characters.” — Columbus Dispatch
“Martin Dugard has written bestselling histories with Bill O’Reilly, and with me, but with The Explorers, he shows that he does his best work as a solo performer. The Explorers has a distinctive voice and the drama never flags from beginning to end.” —James Patterson
“An exciting and uplifting book, with inspiration on every page.”
—Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception
Curiosity. Hope. Passion. Courage. Independence. Self-discipline. Perseverance. Dugard (coauthor, Killing Lincoln) identifies these as the qualities that successful explorers display over the course of their journeys and from which the rest of us can learn. As the foundation for his argument, the author uses the 1857–58 expedition of Richard Francis Burton (1821–90) and John Hanning Speke (1827–64) to find the source of the Nile River, noting the difficulties they experienced in traveling into Africa, the clash of their personalities, and the fallout from their conflicting conclusions regarding the river's source. Dugard arranges his chapters by the traits listed and investigates related psychological/behavioral research then meanders on a far-ranging journey through time and other explorers who have displayed similar attributes. VERDICT Unlike most exploration narratives, this book sets a different course while hitting the highlights of an expedition and its outcome. Dugard's writing so entertains that readers will not mind the various tangents and digressions.—Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Lib., IN