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Item #: OP2011-104
EXPLORERS EXTRAORDINARY John Keay 1987 Softcover Fine
By Keay, John
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Detailed Product Description
Los Angeles, Tarcher, 1986. 195 pp, b/w illustrations. 

This book is about 7 explorers. However, it turns out that one of them, Louis de Rougemont, made up all of his exploits and was eventually exposed as a fraud. And another one, A. Henry Savage Landor, mixed fantasy and reality together to such an extent that it is difficult to know what happened and what didn't. So, about one third of the book concerns 'events' more suited for exposition in a novel.
 
Fortunately, Mr. Keay writes so well....with tongue-in-cheek humor and sympathy and psychological insight...that the other 5 chapters are well- worth your time. Here's what's on the menu (pun intended, since cannibals are present in this book...): John MacGregor, who was an evangelist/explorer who went everywhere by canoe. His canoe was a remarkable craft - it only displaced 3 inches of water.
 
MacGregor 'sailed' through the Suez Canal, before it was completed. He was also a very entertaining chap on the lecture circuit back home in England; Captain John Cochrane- who aimed to walk around the world. However, he was a very romantic fellow and subject to 'love at first sight.' Alas, whilst walking through Siberia he fell in love with a 14 year old Kamchatkan girl. He wound up marrying her, and his walking days were over.
 
Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt- a German botanist who set out to learn everything he could about the flora of Australia, and who disappeared without a trace into the Outback; Mary Kingsley- the 'proper English spinster' who fell in love with Africa. She learned to eat snake, and one time- while accepting some hospitality from cannibals- she noticed a strange smell. She traced the smell to a small bag hidden in the roof joists of her hut. The bag contained '...a human hand, three big toes, four eyes, two ears, and other portions of the human frame.'
 
Isabelle Eberhardt- a waif-like woman who dressed like a man and who fell in love with the Sahara....and who eventually found the love of her life in the Sahara. Because Landor and de Rougemont were 'phony' explorers, I didn't find this book to be good as Mr. Keay's 'Eccentric Travellers,' whose subjects were all 'the genuine article.' However, as mentioned above, Mr. Keay is an excellent writer, which makes both the fictional and the authentic exploits detailed in this book very interesting and exciting. 

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