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1 Remote Warehouse Biography- General

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

by

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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. His name was James Holman (1786-1857) and he became "one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored." In his debut book, A Sense of the World: How A Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler, Jason Roberts brilliantly illuminates the life of this virtually unknown nineteenth century explorer who was renowned for his solo circumnavigation of the world. Po Bronson praises, "This is one of the most fascinating stories I've read in years. James Holman is an inspiration who rightfully deserved to be a legend. Jason Roberts deserves accolades for rescuing Holman's life from obscurity, and recounting it with such respect for the record, and such tenderness of line."

James Holman was the most prolific traveler of his time during an age when the blind were routinely warehoused in asylums and a great deal of the world was still unexplored. As a young naval officer, he was blinded by a mysterious shipboard illness during the Napoleonic Wars. Despite this major deterrent, Holman dedicated his life to wandering, always alone, through the wildest parts of the world. He never knew a word of the local language and he had only enough money to travel in native fashion, in peasant carts, on horseback, and on foot. He became a bestselling author, an inspiration to Charles Darwin and Sir Richard Francis Burton, and achieved near-legendary status, and yet, he outlived his fame and died in obscurity.

Jason Roberts happened upon the subject of James Holman while wandering through the library, when a book titled Eccentric Travelers caught his eye. He soon realized that the chapter about Holman in this slim volume was "the most extensive writing on the Blind Traveler ever published." Roberts did manage to find a few volumes of Holman's own writings in his extensive research, but these cover his life only from 1819 to 1832. Roberts felt compelled to unearth the full story of Holman's life, even going to England himself "to decipher the faded ink of ship's logs, and brush the crumbling wax from broken seals of once-secret documents from Windsor Castle." The result is something "much more than a travelogue. It is a family saga, a warrior's tragedy, a medical mystery, a courtroom drama, a tale of friendships and betrayal, and of many discreet affections."

Review:

"In this vibrant biography of James Holman (1786?1857), Roberts, a contributor to the Village Voice and McSweeney's, narrates the life of a 19th-century British naval officer who was mysteriously blinded at 25, but nevertheless became the greatest traveler of his time. Holman entered the navy at age 12, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. When blindness overcame him, Holman was an accomplished sailor, and he engineered to join the Naval Knights of Windsor, a quirky group who only had to live in quarters near Windsor Castle and attend mass for their stipend. For many blind people at the time, this would have been the start of a long (if safe) march to the grave. Holman would have none of it and spent the bulk of his life arranging leaves of absence from the Knights in order to wander the world (without assistance) from Paris to Canton; study medicine at the University of Edinburgh; hunt slavers off the coast of Africa; get arrested by one of the czar's elite bodyguards in Siberia; and publish several bestselling travel memoirs. Roberts does Holman justice, evoking with grace and wit the tale of this man once lionized as 'The Blind Traveler.' (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review:

"In this vibrant biography of James Holman (1786 — 1857), Roberts, a contributor to the Village Voice and McSweeney's, narrates the life of a 19th-century British naval officer who was mysteriously blinded at 25, but nevertheless became the greatest traveler of his time. Holman entered the navy at age 12, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. When blindness overcame him, Holman was an accomplished sailor, and he engineered to join the Naval Knights of Windsor, a quirky group who only had to live in quarters near Windsor Castle and attend mass for their stipend. For many blind people at the time, this would have been the start of a long (if safe) march to the grave. Holman would have none of it and spent the bulk of his life arranging leaves of absence from the Knights in order to wander the world (without assistance) from Paris to Canton; study medicine at the University of Edinburgh; hunt slavers off the coast of Africa; get arrested by one of the czar's elite bodyguards in Siberia; and publish several bestselling travel memoirs. Roberts does Holman justice, evoking with grace and wit the tale of this man once lionized as 'The Blind Traveler.' (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Before there were cars, long-distance buses, high-speed trains and jet airplanes, there was a man who traveled a quarter of a million miles. He did it by cart, by carriage, by sledge, by ship and by foot. And he did it 'intermittently crippled' and 'permanently blind.' His name was James Holman, and for a time he was the most famous of the many intrepid English travelers who set out for faraway places... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Roberts...deserves readers' admiration, not only for making each step a pleasure to read, but for opening our eyes to so remarkably forgotten and individual. A polished and entertaining account of an astonishing wayfarer." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Jason Roberts has brought something great into the world. To know ourselves at all, we have to know about people like James Holman, and this is a brilliantly executed biography of this extraordinary, almost unbelievable man. Where the story of the blind traveler could have been maudlin or corny or draped in historical cobwebs, A Sense of the World is alive, magisterial, suspenseful, frequently funny. Full of wonder and with a commanding sense of narrative, this is one of the best and most life-affirming biographies I've ever read." Dave Eggers

Review:

"I found this book astounding. That James Holman managed to perceive so much of his world is a triumph only slightly grander than that of Jason Roberts, two centuries later, recreating that world so vividly, accurately, and compellingly that you feel you are not reading a life, but seeing it." Mary Roach, Stiff

Review:

"This is one of the most fascinating stories I've read in years. James Holman is an inspiration who rightfully deserved to be a legend. Jason Roberts deserves accolades for rescuing Holman's life from obscurity, and recounting it with such respect for the record, and such tenderness of line." Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?

Review:

"Enthralling...inspiring." Time magazine

Review:

"A well-written popular history that will appeal to an audience interested in stories of individuals triumphing over physical difficulties." Library Journal

Review:

"A Sense of the World is a vastly entertaining, always informative and often astonishing account." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Roberts has done a remarkable job of resurrecting Holman from obscurity, painting a portrait of a complex and compelling persona against the background of his life's journeys." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Synopsis:

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780007161065
Subtitle:
How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler
Author:
Roberts, Jason
Author:
A Circuit of the World
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
England
Subject:
Specific Groups - Special Needs
Subject:
Voyages and travels
Subject:
Travelers
Subject:
Blind
Subject:
History
Subject:
Holman, James
Subject:
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20060530
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.25 in 21.2 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$24.75 In Stock
Product details 400 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780007161065 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this vibrant biography of James Holman (1786?1857), Roberts, a contributor to the Village Voice and McSweeney's, narrates the life of a 19th-century British naval officer who was mysteriously blinded at 25, but nevertheless became the greatest traveler of his time. Holman entered the navy at age 12, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. When blindness overcame him, Holman was an accomplished sailor, and he engineered to join the Naval Knights of Windsor, a quirky group who only had to live in quarters near Windsor Castle and attend mass for their stipend. For many blind people at the time, this would have been the start of a long (if safe) march to the grave. Holman would have none of it and spent the bulk of his life arranging leaves of absence from the Knights in order to wander the world (without assistance) from Paris to Canton; study medicine at the University of Edinburgh; hunt slavers off the coast of Africa; get arrested by one of the czar's elite bodyguards in Siberia; and publish several bestselling travel memoirs. Roberts does Holman justice, evoking with grace and wit the tale of this man once lionized as 'The Blind Traveler.' (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this vibrant biography of James Holman (1786 — 1857), Roberts, a contributor to the Village Voice and McSweeney's, narrates the life of a 19th-century British naval officer who was mysteriously blinded at 25, but nevertheless became the greatest traveler of his time. Holman entered the navy at age 12, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars. When blindness overcame him, Holman was an accomplished sailor, and he engineered to join the Naval Knights of Windsor, a quirky group who only had to live in quarters near Windsor Castle and attend mass for their stipend. For many blind people at the time, this would have been the start of a long (if safe) march to the grave. Holman would have none of it and spent the bulk of his life arranging leaves of absence from the Knights in order to wander the world (without assistance) from Paris to Canton; study medicine at the University of Edinburgh; hunt slavers off the coast of Africa; get arrested by one of the czar's elite bodyguards in Siberia; and publish several bestselling travel memoirs. Roberts does Holman justice, evoking with grace and wit the tale of this man once lionized as 'The Blind Traveler.' (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Roberts...deserves readers' admiration, not only for making each step a pleasure to read, but for opening our eyes to so remarkably forgotten and individual. A polished and entertaining account of an astonishing wayfarer."
"Review" by , "Jason Roberts has brought something great into the world. To know ourselves at all, we have to know about people like James Holman, and this is a brilliantly executed biography of this extraordinary, almost unbelievable man. Where the story of the blind traveler could have been maudlin or corny or draped in historical cobwebs, A Sense of the World is alive, magisterial, suspenseful, frequently funny. Full of wonder and with a commanding sense of narrative, this is one of the best and most life-affirming biographies I've ever read."
"Review" by , "I found this book astounding. That James Holman managed to perceive so much of his world is a triumph only slightly grander than that of Jason Roberts, two centuries later, recreating that world so vividly, accurately, and compellingly that you feel you are not reading a life, but seeing it."
"Review" by , "This is one of the most fascinating stories I've read in years. James Holman is an inspiration who rightfully deserved to be a legend. Jason Roberts deserves accolades for rescuing Holman's life from obscurity, and recounting it with such respect for the record, and such tenderness of line."
"Review" by , "Enthralling...inspiring."
"Review" by , "A well-written popular history that will appeal to an audience interested in stories of individuals triumphing over physical difficulties."
"Review" by , "A Sense of the World is a vastly entertaining, always informative and often astonishing account."
"Review" by , "Roberts has done a remarkable job of resurrecting Holman from obscurity, painting a portrait of a complex and compelling persona against the background of his life's journeys."
"Synopsis" by , 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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