American Author Retraces British Explorer’s 4,500-mile route across Africa for the same reason

American Author Retraces British Explorer’s 4,500-mile route across Africa for the same reason: a woman’s love

Online PR News – 01-December-2010 – – Portland, OR -- Oregon-based journalist Julian Smith knew that Laura, his girlfriend of six years, was The One. Yet at 35, the award-winning travel and science writer couldn’t even commit to staying in one time zone for long, much less settling down. Even when he proposed on Valentine’s Day, 2007, and she said yes, he still wondered: was he really ready to get married?

Julian came up with a crazy-sounding plan: to test himself and face his fears of a lifetime commitment, he would retrace the 4,500-mile route of Ewart "the Leopard" Grogan, a legendary 19th-century British explorer who trekked the length of Africa for the love of a woman.

In Crossing The Heart Of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure, Julian intertwines his own modern-day journey of self-discovery with the real-life story of Ewart Grogan, a handsome Cambridge dropout who in 1900 became the first man to walk the length of Africa. Incredibly, Grogan had traveled "from the Cape to Cairo" to win the hand of his beloved, New Zealand beauty Gertrude Watt. His goal was to prove to her skeptical stepfather that he was worthy of his daughter’s hand.

As he retraces Grogan’s 4,500-mile, two-year journey through the lakes, volcanoes, jungles and cities of Africa, Julian reflects on the highs and lows of his relationship with Laura. Traveling by boat, bus, bicycle and motorcycle through some of the least developed and most dangerous countries in the world, he recounts the adventures of his predecessor: tropical diseases, erupting volcanoes, charging elephants, mutinous porters, hostile cannibals and the deadly reaches of the largest swamp on the continent.

Although he came close to death countless times, Grogan returned home safely to fame, fortune and a priceless wife: the beautiful - and patient - Gertrude Watt.

Repeating that trek taught Julian about the lengths it’s worth going, literally and figuratively, for the love of one’s life.

Crossing the Heart of Africa
An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith

List $14.99
Trade softcover, 336 pages
ISBN13: 9780061873478 ISBN10: 0061873470
Publication date Dec 7, 2010
A Harper Perennial Paperback Original

Available in bookstores nationwide and online. For more information visit

The amazing true story of Julian Smith, who retraced the journey of legendary British explorer Ewart "The Leopard" Grogan, the first man to cross the length of Africa, for the same reason: a woman’s love. Smith interweaves both adventures into a seamless narrative in Crossing the Heart of Africa: the story of two explorers, a century apart, who traversed a continent to prove themselves and came back changed men.

About the Author:
Julian Smith is an award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in Outside, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Wired, New Scientist, US News & World Report, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

He is the author of travel guidebooks to El Salvador, Ecuador, Virginia and the American Southwest. With a B.A. in biology and an M.S. in wildlife ecology, he helped launch and edit Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, an international peer-reviewed scientific journal. He has taught writing, editing, and literature at the College of Santa Fe and the Gotham Writers Workshop.

On October 20, 2007, he married his fiancée Laura. They live in Portland, Oregon with their daughter, Ivy.What People Are Saying

"[A] smoothly written chronicle that’s part travelogue, part contemporary relationship commentary, and all heart." -- Kirkus Reviews

"This rapturous adventure narrative...shows that love really does conquer all. A cracking good yarn." -- Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Hellhound on His Trail

"Julian Smith’s gripping Crossing the Heart of Africa demonstrates a basic truth about the best travel writers: they arrive at the most interesting, most worthwhile destinations when they look not only out at the scenery, but inward as well. His journey toward unraveling the mysteries of his particular human heart required real courage. You’ll be glad to have traveled in his company." -- David Oliver Relin, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea

"A charming, wise, and captivating tale." -- Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara

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