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My Life as an Explorer

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  179 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Over the course of three decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sven Hedin traveled the ancient Silk Road, discovered long-lost cities, mapped previously uncharted rivers, and saw more of the roof of the world than any European before him. Written in the exuberant, enthusiastic style of Richard Halliburton's The Royal Road to Romance, this epic memoir captures ...more
Paperback, 500 pages
Published March 1st 2003 by National Geographic (first published 1925)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I think you'd need gallons of testosterone to be willing to endure such extreme discomfort just for bragging rights. "First European to set foot on this blank spot on the map." I admire Hedin's skills as a linguist, record-keeper, and collector of data.

I was not aware of how many hundreds of beasts of burden and other animals had to suffer and die in the service of these expeditions. Camels, horses, mules, sheep, and dogs endured starvation, extreme heat, severe dehydration, subzero temperature
...more
Chris Bubb
This was another "Book Lust" recommendation. The description sounded interesting and inviting; I thought it would be a thrilling and engrossing book that I'd blow right through in a couple of days.

Two weeks later, here I am, feeling a bit misled by Nancy Pearl. There were good aspects to the book, don't get me wrong. The descriptions were often brilliant. In particular, I'll remember his account of the walled-in monk in Tibet for a long time. It was a great travelogue, and really made me want to
...more
Patricia
Having read this book for the third time, in preparation for a return to Central Asia this autumn, I am struck this time by the wanton loss of life incurred in traversing all those snowy passes and sterile deserts and have to wonder if it was worth it. Hedin's reply would have been "Absolutely!" Here was a man motivated by filling in those "white spaces" on maps and in being "the first white man to... [cross those mountains, record that lake's depths, uncover those 2,000-year-old tombs]". When y ...more
Sicofonia
This book is a recollection of memories from Hedin's early journeys and expeditions across the Middle East and the Asian continent.
On the first few chapters, Hedin explains how he became a geographer and felt somewhat in love with the vast Asian continent. Such feeling developed an everlasting desire to explore what was, in his days, an unknown land to Europeans. A land that needed to be surveyed and mapped thoroughly.
After Hedin makes it clear on what it is driving him to travel back and forth
...more
Shannon
An interesting read, hearkening back to the times of the "white space on the map."

It's not fair, perhaps, to judge one's actions using values that are 100 years removed from events, but I was shocked by the callousness Hedin showed towards the pack animals. He purchased hundreds over the course of his adventures, knowing he was leading them to certain death, despite the affection he held for some of them. I suppose this is the price of being successful in that period of time, but I did struggle
...more
Amerynth
I had a love-hate relationship with Hedin's book detailing some of his travels in Asia, including many places where he was the first white man to set foot in. Especially at the beginning of the book, I found his narrative to be somewhat dry as it was more descriptive of the landscape than entertaining story. However, I really enjoyed the stories of the people he encountered and his survival stories about some epic adventures (particularly his first desert foray.) It took me a long time to wade t ...more
joyce
Oct 16, 2012 joyce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in Sven Hedin
Recommended to joyce by: personal research
Shelves: history
This book gives a clear picture of how driven Sven Hedin was. Not necessarily in a bad way, but VERY driven. From his accounts (and many of the contemporaries who met Hedin) people are attracted to him and this makes his encounters interesting. I like the descriptions of his "puppies" and appreciate from his narrative that he is compassionate toward both people and animals. (perhaps more toward animals?) Anyway, not the Hedin book that I would pick to read first, but once you're on a roll w/Sven ...more
Bubba
It's almost hard to believe that one man actually did all the things described in this account. He discovered the source of the Indus and Brahmaputra Rivers, as well as ancient cities in the Taklamakan desert, mapped unexplored regions of Tibet, criss-crossed Tibet, India, Chinese Turkestan (Xinjiang), Russian Turkestan, Iran, Iraq, the Caucasus, Russia, China, and nearly died several times in the process. He was also a pupil of Ferdinand Von Richtofen and wrote more than 50 books on his explora ...more
Betty
Hedin was not only an intrepid explorer, he could write a clear and entertaining narrative. This book covers four different expeditions in the middle east and asia, but focuses primarily on what is now western China and Tibet. His mission was to map unknown territory and go where no European had gone before. Later, archeologists plundered in his footsteps. While the book has illustrations and a few maps, I would have loved more maps. I could not figure out where he was in reference to my atlas a ...more
Lavafalls
This is a great book for anyone that finds explorers interesting. One of the interesting facts is how good of writer Sven was and is able to tell a compelling story. Yes he made some stupid decisions in his life but its a great read and tells of time that no longer exists.
Harry Cunningham
One of my favourite exploration books of all time. As well as the incredible journeys through the inhospitable deserts of Asai surviving against mother nature there is place in human history. Although a relatively modern traveller he seemed to have linked the modern and the old world. Travelling in progress with the Shah of Persia, being one of the first westerners to enter Tibet and mapping great areas of Asia. His links with Nazi Germany has meant that he was all but forgotten after the war. H ...more
T Huang
Very strong opening sentences.
Diva
Jan 23, 2010 Diva rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Diva by: Paul.speilzebub
interest builds subtly, but firmly. one of my favourite authors/Explorers. thank you some one for giving this.
Rubbersoul19
I found this book at a half price books. It is one of the coolest things I have ever read.
raul
Good armchair travel for the kid-bound.
Emma
nederlanse versie
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Sven Hedin was a Swedish geographer, topographer, explorer, photographer, travel writer, and illustrator of his own works. During four expeditions to Central Asia, he discovered the Transhimalaya (once named the Hedin Range in his honor) and the sources of the Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej Rivers, Lake Lop Nur, and the remains of cities, grave sites and the Great Wall of China in the deserts of th ...more
More about Sven Hedin...
The Wandering Lake: Into the Heart of Asia Abenteuer in Tibet: 1899 - 1902 The Silk Road Across the Gobi Desert Trans-Himalaya, Discoveries and Adventures in Tibet: Vol. 1

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“I was swept away by the irresistible desiderium incognitti which breaks down all obstacles and refuses to recognise the impossible” 6 likes
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