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The Explorer King

Adventure, Science, and the Great Diamond Hoax—Clarence King in the Old West

List Price: $16.95

September 28, 2007 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 320 Pages | ISBN 9781593761615
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"Wilson makes King, flaws and all, into an irresistible protagonist." —Los Angeles Times

In the 1800s, the young Clarence King was an icon of the new America: a man of adventure and intellect, a flash-in-the-pan celebrity who combined science and exploration with romanticism and charm. Robert Wilson’s biography, The Explorer King, vividly depicts King’s daredevil feats including his journey to the highest peak of the Sierra Nevada, and uncovers the reasons for the shocking decline he suffered after his days on the American frontier.

Through King’s own rollicking tales, some true, some embroidered, of scaling previously unclimbed mountain peaks, of surviving a monster blizzard near Yosemite, of escaping ambush and capture by Indians, of being chased on horseback for two days by angry bandits, Robert Wilson offers a powerful combination of adventure, history, and nature writing, he also provides the bigger picture of the West at this time. Ultimately, King himself would come to symbolize the collision of science and business, one of the sources of his downfall. Fascinating and extensive, The Explorer King movingly portrays the America of the nineteenth century and the man who—for better or worse—typified the soul of the era.

ROBERT WILSON, who has been an award-winning editor at Preservation and Civilization, now edits The American Scholar. He writes often for magazines and newspapers, and has worked at USA Today and the Washington Post. He lives in Manassas, Virginia.


“Wilson makes King, flaws and all, into an irresistible protagonist.” —Los Angeles Times

“Wilson adds to our picture of the Wild West; one populated less by bloodthirsty bandits and ruthless ranchers than by earnest, upstanding men defined by their curiosity and courage.” —Publishers Weekly

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