An amazing biography on a little known historical figure, John Holman I think this blurb describes it best He was known simply as the Blind Traveler, a solitary, sightless adventurer who fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon and helped chart the Australian outback Once a celebrity, a bestselling author and 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 Jason Roberts does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of a man who loved to travel under the radar but who would not be ignored Indeed, this is a rare biographical work that engages the reader thoroughly and makes one hopeful for such books.Author website This book is a biography and travel account of Englishman James Holman 1786 1857 During his life, he became the most accomplished traveler of all time , covering no less than a quarter of a million miles in his circumnavigation of the world.It is exceptional that a person ventured of his own initiative with an impulse towards the exotic but perhaps even epic, because this solo traveler was blind.The Blind Traveler wrote than 5 books, regarded himself of equal to any seeing task, and rarely commented on his loss of sight Only n his final book, and autobiography did he write about the world that blindness had closed up to him, and the one it had opened up.Fascinating what moves people to action and how perspective and attitude can help change the world.Author Jason RobertsPublisher Harper PerennialCopyright 2006Genre Biography TravelPages 355Date Read 10 19 08 to 10 22 08Notes p.67 Contrary to popular conception, the remaining senses of the blinded person do not become acute They become eloquent A blind hears no better than he did when sighted the change is wrought in his ability to extract new meanings from familiar sounds Touch is not increased, but it s role is heightened It is called upon for than the blunt confirmation of contact The shift from raw sensation to refined perception arises from a cultivation of attention p.135 Holeman was ready to continue his own transformation He d started this journey as a frail invalid, a bit of human baggage He d bloomed into an expatriate, a tourist, then an active, questing, and questioning traveler Now he was ready to become an adventurer. I have read an amazing book about a blind traveler in the XIXth Century Jason Roberts has done a priceless job in bringing this role setting man to life again The book is truly breathtaking Holman s adventures sound like very far fetched fiction It s insane how he could travel the world alone at those times To top it all, it turns out his only pal was deaf Here are some of the many increadible things he managed to achieve alone with very limited funds and no sight at all explore the Brazilian jungle travel through Siberia go elephant hunting on horseback in the jungles of Sri Lanka and actually shoot a gun in action travel on horseback across uncivilized parts of South Africa climb the mast of a sailing ship negotiate for the English with nomad tribes without understanding a word of their languge climb the Vesuv before eruption It s so unbelievable your jaw drops Remember the name of James Holman It has been forgotten long enough.http mukikamu.wordpress.com On the summit of the precipice, and in the heart of the green woods there was an intelligence in the winds of the hills, and in the solemn stillness of the buried foliage, that could not be mistaken It entered into my heart, and I could have wept, not that I did not see, but that I could not portray all that I felt James Holman, The Blind TravelerJames Holman wasn t born blind, but he was born with a restlessness and and a desire for adventure The fourth son of a Chymist Druggist, or Surgeon and Apothecary, of genteel Practice, who wanted his sons to be gentlemen, was serving as a third lieutenant aboard a Royal Navy ship off the coast of North America His shift was often during the night time hours, when the brutally frigid winds blew off the water, chilling the bones After several years of service, Holman developed a painful rheumatism in his leg joints by 1807 not an uncommon affliction for sailors in such cold extremes which later led to his blindness in 1811.By 1813 Holman was attending the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, first as a student of literature then of medicine In 1819 he embarked on his first trip to the south of France and Italy, for his health With his walking stick a cane with a metal tip he had learned to tap and navigate himself by the echoing it made In Italy he became friends with a Mr C later expanded to Mr C l b k and assumed to be Colebrook with whom he traveled to Germany and across the Netherlands The unusual thing about Colebrook was that he was deaf Roberts paints a picture of Holman s times Not only do we get to know the indomitable Holman, but we learn what it was like to lose your sight We understand better what it was like to travel during that time, but how Holman navigated himself Traveling was bad enough, but as a blind man it would have been even challenging Holman, however, met it head on and with enthusiasm and he did it as a relatively poor man In spite of that, he didn t mooch off friends or acquaintances, always keeping his stays short and keeping on the move He secured a small pension from the Navy and wrote about his travels using a device called a noctograph And between his notes and his prodigious memory, he published about his travels, and frequently his doings caused me to laugh out loud Holman planned to circle the globe by going across Russia and Siberia to the east coast of Asia a plan that ended in disappointment when the Tsar had Holman retrieved and thrown out of the country Russia didn t want the world knowing their activities on the west coast of North America But Holman succeeded in circumnavigating the globe, and not in the easiest way possible And when he returned in 1846 it is estimated that his travels totaled no less than a quarter of a million miles He could claim a thorough acquaintance with every inhabited continent, and direct contact with at least two hundred distinctly separate cultures Alone, sightless, with no prior command of native languages and with only a wisp of funds, he had forged a path equivalent to wandering to the moon And he kept going after that For myself, I needed an adventurous and inspirational read I ve been going through some personal challenges for the last few months and many of the books I picked up fell flat This one, however, was uplifting and turned out to be a great distraction But it s a well written and uplifting account of a forgotten man who accomplished tremendous things in spite of an affliction that sidelined most in similar circumstance An excellent biography A fascinating, very well written book about someone you ve probably never heard of James Holman, the Blind Traveler, who lived from 1786 to 1857 In this age of Google Glass, Earth, Maps it s very hard to remember that there was a time when travelers could still journey to places that were absolutely unmapped and unexplored Holman did make these journeys, and he did it as a blind man who had very limited means, only the most basic transportation he mainly walked , and, usually, no companionship he preferred it that way Losing his sight in his 20s, suffering also from serious rheumatic illness, he rejected the inactive, coddled life expected for someone in his position at that time Instead, he began his travels, writing about them and becoming a well known and admired figure Sadly, though, he became almost forgotten after his death until Roberts read a short description of him in a book and became obsessed with wanting to know.The book follows Holman s life from his birth, to his Navy career, through his many journeys, and into his old age Reading about Holman s determination to live his life on his own terms, despite the prejudices at the time against blind people in general and blind travel writers in particular, is inspiring Note the Kindle edition of this book does not include most of the illustrations, including many portraits of Holman I strongly suggest getting the paperback version instead. A chance encounter in a library led the author to discover James Holman 1786 1857 Son of a shopkeeper, James rises to lieutenant in the British Navy right around the War of 1812 He is forced out of the Navy due to medical issues blindness as well as rheumatic arthritis and although nearly penniless, finds he is in the best of health when travelling in exotic countries and climes alone.Holman s charm and cunning nets him excursions to the Americas, Africa and the Orient hunting slavers or exploring the depths of a continent He climbs Mt Vesuvius during its active phase and even travels nearly the width of Mother Russia before being turned back due to the Tsar s politics.His travel memoirs made him wildly popular at first, then his blindness became a drawback if a blind man could do all these things, how difficult could they be Interest in his exploits flagged and James Holman faded into obscurity.Roberts presents a thrilling tale of success against adversity keeping Holman human, while celebrating his achievements Recommended to anyone interested in historical travel. An interesting man who went from being a naval lieutenant who suffered from joint pain then became blind and traveled the world alone Fascinating And this all takes place from 1787 1857 James Holman was an apothecary shop owner s son who was destined to follow in his father s footsteps when family fortunes changed He goes to the Navy at 12 and expects to be there for the rest of his life but his health turns bad and he must retire on half salary He becomes a Naval Knight of Windsor to retain his half salary He absents himself a lot from his duties as he travels the world What is does and how he learns his way around with short funds and limited language skills is remarkable I loved that the history of the time is explained and that what is happening in the countries he explores is also given That he often is on naval vessels and helps is remarkable I also enjoyed seeing the societal downsides of his times He is a remarkable man I am glad the bookseller recommended it as I was checking out Excellent read This is one of the interesting biographies I ve read It s in a similar vein to The Professor and the Madman in that it explores a period in time as well as an idea as much as it does the life of a single individual In this one, James Holman, the Blind Traveler, certainly is the central focus of the story, but it is wrapped in the early 19th century world in regards to its ideas about travel and Roberts exploration of blindness Overall he has written a gripping, fascinating tale. He was known simply as the Blind Traveler A solitary, sightless adventurer, James Holman fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, helped chart the Australian outback and, astonishingly, circumnavigated the globe, becoming one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored A Sense of the World is a spellbinding and moving rediscovery of one of history s most epic lives a story to awaken our own senses of awe and wonder So inspiring Holman really blew me away What industry and what a sense of adventure, and a strong sense of self you must posses to confidently travel in this way I am so upset at the author though Bah on you for writing such an important and legendary hero in such a transparently boring fashion A hundred stars for the main character and negative a hundred for the writer Fie What an opportunity to explore allusion and description in a novel focusing on someone who must use all there other senses How could you stuff this up I have to give it a good rating though because this mans life must be known, its an impossibly beautiful tale despite the authors botching of it.