Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer by Bill Gifford


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  • Pub. Date: February 2007
  • 352pp
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    Product Details

    • Pub. Date: February 2007
    • Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
    • Format: Hardcover, 352pp


    Before Lewis and Clark, Huck Finn, or Ishmael, there was John Ledyard, the first and greatest American traveler.

    A veteran of Captain Cook’s final voyage, Ledyard walked across nearly all of Russia and suggested to his friend Thomas Jefferson that traversing the American continent was feasible—inspiring the Lewis and Clark expedition. When he died in 1789, he was preparing to venture into Africa. Once as famous as the Founding Fathers whom he had befriended and beguiled, the "American traveler," as Ledyard was called, fell into obscurity over the years, reduced to becoming a footnoted reference in Moby Dick.

    Bill Gifford reenacted Ledyard’s 1773 escape from Dartmouth College in a canoe and followed Ledyard’s trail down the length of the Lena River in Siberia. In Ledyard he reveals the fascinating man in the legend, bringing back an American original and giving us a story that until now has not been fully told.

    The New York Times - Candice Millard

    Bill Gifford’s Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer, makes an important contribution to the existing literature through its personal approach to Ledyard’s life.

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    BILL GIFFORD attended Dartmouth College; unlike Ledyard, he graduated. His writing has appeared in Outside and the New York Times Magazine. He is the features editor for Men's Journal and lives in Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania.

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