Crossing the Heart of Africa
An Odyssey of Love and Adventure
By Julian Smith
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061873478, 344pp.)
Publication Date: December 2010
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The amazing true story of Julian Smith, who retraced the journey of legendary British explorer Ewart "The Leopard" Grogan, the first man to cross the length of Africa, in hopes of also winning the heart of the woman he loved.
In 1898, the dashing young British explorer Ewart the Leopard Grogan was in love. In order to prove his mettle to his belovedand her aristocratic stepfatherhe set out on a quest to become the first person to walk across Africa, a feat hitherto thought by many explorers to be impossible (New York Times, 1900).
In 2007, thirty-five-year-old American journalist Julian Smith faced a similar problem with his girlfriend of six years . . . and decided to address it in the same way Grogan had more than a hundred years before: he was going to retrace the Leopards 4,500-mile journey for love and glory through the lakes, volcanoes, savannas, and crowded modern cities of Africa.
Smith interweaves both adventures into a seamless narrative in Crossing the Heart of Africa: the story of two explorers, a century apart, who both traversed the length of Africa to prove themselves . . . and came back changed men.
Julian Smith is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in Outside, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Wired, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He is the author of guidebooks to El Salvador, Ecuador, Virginia, and the southwestern United States, and he has been honored by the Society of American Travel Writers for writing the best guidebook of the year. He lives with his wife and daughter in Portland, Oregon.
- Much of the book is a meditation on being a lone outsider in places and cultures that are unfamiliar, at times almost alien. Discuss your own experiences in foreign places and cultures—unexpected things you encountered, intriguing people you met, ways you coped with being a stranger in a strange land.
“Grogan would have been a fitting protagonist for Shakespeare ... an insightful and often uproarious romp. ... memorable ... sheds light on Grogan’s monumental feat, which is worthy of a revisit.”