The epic adventures of the first white men to explore the Grand Canyon, the last unmapped region of the United States.
By 1869, the map of the United States had long since been filled in. Only one mystery remained; an immense area of the south-west, larger than any state in the union and any country in Europe, remained unexplored.
On May 24 1869 a one-armed Civil War veteran named John Wesley Powell and a ragtag band of nine men set out down the river to resolve the mystery. Three months later, defying premature reports of their deaths, six of the men emerged to tell the tale. Their expedition was the last epic adventure on the American continent.
They were the first white men to explore the Grand Canyon, the first of any race to brave the Colorado’s ferocious and deadly rapids, and the first to map and measure the area, the ultimate American landscape.
Powell instantly became a national hero and a star of the lecture circuit, enthralling audiences with vividly painted stories of a hostile and alien environment.
This was wild adventure, but it was also a journey with a practical purpose. Powell furthered the cause of modern science, seeing the Grand Canyon as a geological textbook which supported Darwin’s new theories about the unthinkably ancient nature of the earth.
After his death Powell lapsed into obscurity. Edward Dolnick brings this great character to life for a modern audience, using previously untapped diaries, journals and letters which tell Powell’s story in rough, vivid detail.
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“Written with authority and zeal, this rich narrative is popular history at its best.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Edward Dolnick’s Down the Great Unknown is both good history and a successful adventure yarn.” Harper’s MagazineFrom the Back Cover:
On 24 May 1869, a ragtag band of ten mountain men voyaged down the last unexplored area in the American Southwest. To adventurers of the era the immense Grand Canyon was almost as mysterious as Atlantis – and just as perilous. John Wesley Powell, an eccentric yet highly gifted veteran of the Civil War, drove the expedition with supreme self-confidence and incurable optimism, often clashing with the independent-minded misfits he had hired. Edward Dolnick captures the excitement and fear of the journey in a thrilling narrative that encompasses a cast of memorable heroes and one of the great feats of endurance of all time.
'Six tired, half-starved adventurers who had started the trip as rowdy, hollering mountain men came back from an ill-equipped expedition that had taken them ninety-nine days of whitewater terror, fire, feuding, thirst, hunger – which had cost them the lives of three of their companions. Dolnick keeps his narrative flowing like a strong current, pioneering in prose with much of one-armed Powell's own self-confidence.'
Iain Finlayson, 'The Times'
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Book Description HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS LTD, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006532233