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This is that rarest of books, the one you grab when the house is on fire, or you're about to be marooned on a desert island with nothing else to read. Sven Hedin was not only one of the greatest explorers of the nineteenth century, he was also a brilliant storyteller. Nowhere does the Swedish author tell a tale of excitement, adventure, danger, travel, and hair-raising escape like he does in "My Life as an Explorer." Written in an engaging anecdotal style, Hedin explains how he first went to Persia in 1885. Even this first trip was full of mishaps, as he nearly lost his life riding across the snow-covered Elbruz mountains during a fierce snow-storm. Yet Hedin miraculously survived and went on to meet the Shah of Persia. Thus was set the pattern for his remarkable future, which was one part royalty and ten parts danger. "My Life as an Explorer" regales the reader with almost more adventure than one can bear to read. Hedin raids the burial grounds of a secret Asian sect. He courts disaster with the Emir of Bokhara. He climbs accursed mountains in China, discovers lost cities in the Gobi desert, infiltrates Tibet, outwits Torgut bandits, and of course becomes close friends with royalty from Peking to London, including the rulers of both the Russian and British empires. In short Hedin lived a life so full of adventure and escape that merely reading about it is exhausting. Illustrated with dozens of his own drawings, this remains the single most exciting adventure travel book written in the early twentieth century.
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