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.
Praise for A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler…
“Enthralling...inspiring A moving, mesmerizing biography.” -Time magazine
“An admirable work, testament to the determination, resourcefulness, and skill of not only its subject, but also its author.” -Boston Globe
“Gives us a man who embraced wanderlust at a time when the continents and oceans were much, much bigger.” -New York Times
“Vibrant prose.” -Washington Post
“Through meticulous research…with intrigue and humor, Roberts brings Holman fully to life.” -Daily News
“Roberts has achieved much. His research is meticulous and…a person lost to history is now rediscovered.” -Denver Rocky Mountain News
“Vibrant...evok(es) with grace and wit the tale of this man once lionized as “The Blind Traveler.” -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Enthralling. A masterpiece of biography, travel writing and medical journalism.” -St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Extraordinary…beautifully produced…Roberts made his hero one for the history books.” -Buffalo News
“Holman’s remarkable life story, coupled with Roberts’ extraordinary gifts as a storyteller, make this a fascinating read.” -Contra Costa Times
“A well-written popular history that will appeal to an audience interested in stories of individuals triumphing over physical difficulties.” -Library Journal
“A remarkable job of resurrecting Holman from obscurity, painting a portrait of a complex and compelling persona.” -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Roberts’s book is an excellent read.… An author with an enviable ability to tell the tale. -The Spectator
“(A) meticulous recreation of Holman’s world.” -Miami Herald
“Roberts is a beautifully assured writer.” -Seattle Times