The epic adventures of the first white men to explore the Grand Canyon, the last unmapped region of the United States.
By 1869, the map of the United States had long since been filled in. Only one mystery remained; an immense area of the south-west, larger than any state in the union and any country in Europe, remained unexplored.
On May 24 1869 a one-armed Civil War veteran named John Wesley Powell and a ragtag band of nine men set out down the river to resolve the mystery. Three months later, defying premature reports of their deaths, six of the men emerged to tell the tale. Their expedition was the last epic adventure on the American continent.
They were the first white men to explore the Grand Canyon, the first of any race to brave the Colorado's ferocious and deadly rapids, and the first to map and measure the area, the ultimate American landscape.
Powell instantly became a national hero and a star of the lecture circuit, enthralling audiences with vividly painted stories of a hostile and alien environment.
This was wild adventure, but it was also a journey with a practical purpose. Powell furthered the cause of modern science, seeing the Grand Canyon as a geological textbook which supported Darwin's new theories about the unthinkably ancient nature of the earth.
After his death Powell lapsed into obscurity. Edward Dolnick brings this great character to life for a modern audience, using previously untapped diaries, journals and letters which tell Powell's story in rough, vivid detail.
Edward Dolnick was chief science writer at the Boston Globe and has also written about science for publications such as The New York Times Magazine and Atlantic.