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Young Skins by Colin Barrett
Young Skins


Winner of the 2014 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award


“A stunning debut . . . The timeless nature of each story means this collection can—and will—be read many years from now.” —Sunday Times

“Exciting and stylistically adventurous.” —Colm Toibín
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
 
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Off the Map By Fergus Fleming

The Sword and the Cross By Fergus Fleming

Ninety Degrees North By Fergus Fleming

Killing Dragons By Fergus Fleming
“An engrossing and moving story of high endeavour and frustrated hope. . . . Get hold of this book and read it.” —Barry Unsworth, Sunday Telegraph
Barrow's Boys
By Fergus Fleming
Grove Press
978-0-8021-3794-4 • $15.00 • Paperback • Apr. 2001
Military History (Naval)
"Surely this spring's most entertaining popular history . . . Here is all the adventure you could want, stirringly and generously told."—Anthony Brandt, National Geographic Adventure

Barrow's Boys is a spellbinding account of perilous journeys to uncharted areas under the most challenging conditions. Re-creating the successes and harrowing failures of the original extreme adventurers, Fergus Fleming captures the incredibly brave, and often downright insane, passion for exploration that led a band of men into situations that would humble even the bravest adventurers today.

These men served under John Barrow, Second Secretary to the Admiralty, who, after the Napoleonic wars, launched the most ambitious program of exploration the world has ever seen. For the next thirty years, his handpicked teams of elite naval officers scoured the globe on a mission to fill the blanks that littered the atlases of the day.

From the first disastrous trip down the Congo, in search of the Niger River, Barrow maintained his resolve in the face of continuous catastrophes. His explorers often died of sickness or at the hands of unfriendly natives, and they struggled under minuscule budgets that forced them to resort to pulling enormous ships across floating ice fields; to eating mice, raw meat, or their own shoes; and even to horrifying acts of cannibalism.

While many of the journeys failed entirely, Barrow and his men ultimately opened Africa to the world, discovered Antarctica, and pried apart the mandibles of the Arctic. Many of the missions have gone down among the greatest in history, yet they have never before been collected into one volume that captures the full sweep of Barrow's program. Beyond their own renowned discoveries, Barrow's officers inspired scores of men, from Livingstone to Shackleton, to continue the incredible quest for knowledge well into the twentieth century. Never again would such a disparate and entertaining band of explorers stalk the world.

A few of John Barrow's expeditions:

1816: Barrow's first mission sends a crew up the Congo in search of the mouth of the Niger River. Within 200 miles yellow fever wipes out most of the crew; when the survivors turn around their African guides flee into the bush, stealing most of their supplies. None of the officers survive and only a few crewmembers limp back to England. The mission is a total failure, setting an unfortunate precedent for the missions to follow.

1819-1822: The legendary John Franklin takes his first overland mission to map Canada's northern coastline. They run out of food and are driven to eating lichen from rocks, mice, and even their shoes, which are roasted or boiled before being devoured. Some of the men resort to cannibalism.

1825: Gordon Laing, the indomitable African explorer and dreadful poet, crosses the Sahara in search of Timbuctoo, rumored to be a wondrous city of learning and commerce. Attacked by Tuareg tribesmen, he covers 400 miles strapped to the back of a camel with numerous saber cuts, a fractured jawbone, a musket ball in the hip, three broken fingers, and a slashed wrist. He eventually finds Timbuctoo, which turns out to be nothing more than a squalid huddle of mud houses. Laing is murdered by Tuaregs on his way back and his body is never discovered.

1830: Richard and John Lander take up the intrepid task of following the Niger to its mouth. Along the way they are forced to bribe tribal leaders to let them continue, abducted by pirates and delivered into slavery, bought by a drunken chief who sets them free to sail away with a foul-mouthed British captain who desperately needs healthy crewmembers. They return to England in 1831, having discovered the mouth of the Niger, only to receive the cold shoulder from Barrow, who had long argued that the Niger ended elsewhere and was displeased to have his beliefs disproven.

Praise for Barrow's Boys:

"A rollicking narrative about the real thing: nineteenth-century British seafaring exploits . . . A riveting yarn."—Grace Lichtenstein, The Washington Post Book World

"Fleming delivers with firsthand accounts from diaries, meticulously crafted details, and devastatingly dry wit."—Ben Arnoldy, The Christian Science Monitor

"A series of vivid portraits and thrilling tales . . . The book makes wonderful reading."—Kildare Dobbs, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

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Afterglow (a dog memoir)

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