Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A blind man becomes history's greatest traveler

A British naval officer in the early 19th century, James Holman lost his sight at 25. He was granted a pension whereby his only duty was to attend church twice each day, but he found this intolerably boring. He set off for France -- alone -- to seek a cure. As he traveled, he regained a sense of dignity and wholeness. "I see things better with my feet," he said. A new book, A SENSE OF THE WORLD: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler, by Jason Roberts tells his story. An excerpt:

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 triumphed not only over blindness but crippling pain, poverty and the interference of well-meaning authorities (his greatest feat, a circumnavigation of the world, 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. (from A SENSE OF THE WORLD

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