Cover image for Dead reckoning : great adventure writing from the golden age of exploration, 1800-1900
Dead reckoning : great adventure writing from the golden age of exploration, 1800-1900
Whybrow, Helen.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2003]

Physical Description:
566 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm.
From The journals of Lewis and Clark / Meriwether Lewis -- From The exploration of the Colorado River and its canyons / John Wesley Powell -- From Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada / Clarence King -- From Furthest North / Fridtjof Nansen -- From In the Lena Delta / George Wallace Melville -- From Tent life in Siberia / George Kennan -- From Voyage of the beagle / Charles Darwin -- From The Malay Archipelago / Alfred Russel Wallace.

From Through the Dark Continent / Henry Morton Stanley -- From An account of the Crossing of the Continent of Australia / William John Wills -- From Voyage of the Liberdade / Joshua Slocum -- From Two years before the mast / Richard Henry Dana, Jr. -- From The cruise of the Cachalot / Frank Thomas Bullen -- From Travels witha donkey in the Cévennes / Robert Lewis Stevenson -- From Alfred F. Mummery's my climbs in the Alps and Caucasus / Mary Mummery.

From Adventures on the roof of the world / Elizabeth Le Blond -- From The Oregon Trail / Francis Parkman -- From Roughing it / Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) -- From The lure of the labrador wild / Dillon Wallace -- From The ascent of Mount St. Elias / Filippo De Filippi -- From The venturesome voyages of Captain Voss / John Claus Voss -- From Across Asia on a bicycle / Thomas Gaskell Allen, Jr. and William Lewis Sachtleben.

From Among the Celestials / Francis Edward Younghusband -- From In the forbidden land / Henry Savage Landor -- From The ascent of the Matterhorn / Edward Whymper -- From Travels in Alaska / John Muir -- From The Maine woods / Henry David Thoreau -- From A lady's life in the Rocky Mountains / Isabella Bird -- From Travels in West Africa / Mary Kingsley.

From Personal narrative of a Pilgrimagge to Al-Madinah and Meccah / Richard Francis Burton -- From Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan / John L. Stephens -- From My life as an explorer / Sven Hedin.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G465 .D42 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



For intensity of geographical exploration and wealth of first-rate adventure writing by intrepid men and women, the 19th century stands alone. This definitive collection contains thirty-five stories from the most compelling odysseys of the century. The excerpts are as varied as the voyages themselves ? some humorous and lighthearted, others desperate and thrilling ? but all are examples of adventure, and adventure writing, at the highest level. Several long-forgotten classics are reprinted here for the first time in one hundred years.

Author Notes

Freelance writer and book editor Helen Whybrow lives in Vermont

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This anthology collects 35 examples of first-rate adventure writing from the nineteenth century, including excerpts from the Lewis and Clark journals, Mark Twain's Roughing It, and Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen's classic Farthest North. Editor Whybrow has culled accounts of journeys undertaken for personal, philosophical, or business reasons. She evinces an acute perception of the dramatic: quite a few of her choices involve narrow escapes from death, such as George Kennan's white-knuckler about his near shipwreck in the Sea of Okhotsk or alpinist Edward Whymper's tumble down the Matterhorn. Whybrow also picked several mountaineering stories by women and two by harbingers of the philosophy that nature was to be communed with rather than conquered: Henry David Thoreau (ruminating about Maine) and John Muir (ditto about Alaska). Such variety promises something to please every shade of taste for armchair adventure. Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Whybrow shows up today's "extreme" adventurers in this hefty collection of 19th-century narratives. Before corporate sponsorship, before helicopter rescues, even before Sir Ernest Shackleton's famous voyage, people who explored the wilderness found endless wonder and danger. "Risk," Whybrow observes, "hardly had to be sought; it was part of the package." The years between 1800 and 1900 were unmatched for sheer exploratory guts and glory as exhibited by Europeans of a certain gender and race; this was the century when men were men, women were women and people of color were "the blacks." Each one of these 32 captivating narratives (grouped by theme into three sections) packs a big emotional punch, whether it's a horrifying tale of starvation and injury or an awestruck description of natural wonders. "Voyages of Discovery" highlights sponsored quests for worldly knowledge: Meriwether Lewis runs from a bear on the Missouri River, and John Wesley Powell runs the Grand Canyon's rapids. In "Personal Odysseys," Richard Henry Dana, Jr.'s well-known sea journey and Mrs. Alfred "Mary" Mummery's proto-feminist alpine expedition join the voyages of other passionate explorers seeking adventure on land and sea. "Lifelong Quests" features excerpts from the lives of obsessive explorers such as John Muir, Isabella Bird and Sven Hedin, the Swedish geographer whose 1899 attempt to reach Lhasa prompted him to write, "we had tasted the enchantment of the great adventure as never before." 30 illustrations (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Travel and exploration literature have always interested the reading public. Those who cannot make dangerous journeys or discover unknown lands can have the fun and considerably safer experience of vicarious travel. The 19th century was the last age in which travelers and explorers of distant regions were truly isolated and exposed to long periods of deadly peril. Radio, air transportation, and other modern technologies have made once-dangerous journeys reasonably safe. The 19th-century reading public loved to read about adventure travel, and Dead Reckoning presents excerpts from 32 first-person narratives. Some of the authors are well known--Charles Darwin, Meriwether Lewis, Sir Richard Burton. Others are less familiar--George Kennan, Frank Thomas Bullen, A. Henry Savage Landor. Women made important contributions to the literature of travel and adventure, as Whybrow demonstrates by including selections from Elizabeth Le Blond and Mary Kingsley. Arctic explorations and mountain climbing dominate the collection, but all continents and regions are represented. More chronologically focused than The Oxford Book of Exploration, selected by Robin Hanbury-Tenison (1993), this collection will have done its job if it inspires readers to seek out and read the complete texts of the excerpts Whybrow includes. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Undergraduate and general collections. R. Fritze University of Central Arkansas

Table of Contents

Meriwether LewisJohn Wesley PowellClarence KingFridtjof NansenGeorge Wallace MelvilleGeorge KennanCharles DarwinAlfred Russel WallaceHenry Morton StanleyWilliam John WillsCaptain Joshua SlocumRichard Henry Dana, Jr.Frank Thomas BullenRobert Louis StevensonMrs. Alfred "Mary" MummeryElizabeth Le BlondFrancis ParkmanMark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens)Dillon WallaceFilippo De FilippiCaptain John Claus VossThomas Gaskell Allen, Jr. and William Lewis SachtlebenFrancis Edward YounghusbandA. Henry Savage LandorEdward WhymperJohn MuirHenry David ThoreauIsabella BirdMary KingsleySir Richard Francis BurtonJohn L. StephensSven Hedin
Acknowledgmentsp. 13
Introductionp. 15
Part I Voyages of Discoveryp. 23
From The Journals of Lewis and Clarkp. 25
From The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyonsp. 39
From Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevadap. 62
From Farthest Northp. 86
From In the Lena Deltap. 112
From Tent Life in Siberiap. 125
From Voyage of the Beaglep. 145
From The Malay Archipelagop. 159
From Through the Dark Continentp. 178
From An Account of the Crossing of the Continent of Australiap. 196
Part II Personal Odysseysp. 217
From Voyage of the Liberdadep. 219
From Two Years Before the Mastp. 241
From The Cruise of the Cachalotp. 264
From Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennesp. 278
From Alfred F. Mummery's My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasusp. 291
From Adventures on the Roof of the Worldp. 311
From The Oregon Trailp. 319
From Roughing Itp. 335
From The Lure of the Labrador Wildp. 345
From The Ascent of Mount St. Eliasp. 365
From The Venturesome Voyages of Captain Vossp. 378
From Across Asia on a Bicyclep. 388
Part III Lifelong Questsp. 403
From Among the Celestialsp. 405
From In the Forbidden Landp. 419
From The Ascent of the Matterhornp. 428
From Travels in Alaskap. 441
From The Maine Woodsp. 455
From A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountainsp. 476
From Travels in West Africap. 495
From Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccahp. 514
From Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatanp. 534
From My Life as an Explorerp. 548
Bibliographyp. 565