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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Julian Smith Narrator: Michael Goldstro Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Here is 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, in hopes of winning the heart of the woman he loved.

In 1898 the dashing young British explorer Ewart “the Leopard” Grogan was in love. In order to prove his mettle to his beloved—and her aristocratic stepfather—he set out on a quest to become the first person to walk across Africa, “a feat hitherto thought by many explorers to be impossible” (New York Times, 1900).

In 2007 thirty-five-year-old American journalist Julian Smith faced a similar problem with his girlfriend of six years … and decided to address it in the same way Grogan had more than a hundred years before: he was going to retrace the Leopard’s 4,500-mile journey for love and glory through the lakes, volcanoes, savannas, and crowded modern cities of Africa.

Crossing the Heart of Africa is the unforgettable account of twin adventures, as Julian beautifully interweaves his own contemporary journey with Grogan’s larger-than-life tale of charging elephants, cannibal attacks, deadly jungles, and romantic triumph.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In this rapturous adventure narrative, Julian Smith follows in the footsteps of Ewart Grogan, one of history’s hard-core romantics, and shows that love really does conquer all…A cracking good yarn about the jittery joys of going solo before saying ‘I do.’”

    Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Julian Smith, a talented travel writer…evokes Grogan, his adventures, and his world with both insight and panache…and matchless skill.”

    Washington Post

  • “An insightful and often uproarious romp.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Both a mission impossible and a mission of love.”


  • “The story is not only a modern-day travelogue but also a great historical account of a charming trailblazer and the story of a modern-day relationship.”

    Miami Herald

  • “A perilous saga of commitment and cannibals.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Smith’s strong interest in the forgotten, nineteenth-century Victorian explorer Ewart Grogan compelled him to attempt a similar journey in 2007…The interwoven stories contrast an early adventure with a modern Africa, with the remnants of Burton and Speke’s search for the source of the Nile running through it…Smith, an award-winning journalist, tells his own story nearly a century later, as well as revealing a modern continent going through constant change.”


  • “A few paragraphs into the prologue, the pages seemed to turn themselves…Compelling, thought-provoking, and a sheer pleasure.”

    Christine Delsol, former deputy travel editor, San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Like David Grann’s bestselling The Lost City of Z, this is two stories, of an explorer and of the author’s search for him, and both are compelling. Recommended for travel readers and anyone who has ever been or wants to go on a quest.”

    Library Journal

  • “[A] smoothly written chronicle that’s part travelogue, part contemporary relationship commentary, and all heart.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “A charming, wise, and captivating tale.”

    Dean King, bestselling author of The Feud

  • Recipient of the American Society of Journalists and Authors’ Outstanding Book Award for Memoir/Autobiography
  • Winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award Bronze Award for Best Travel Book
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About the Author

Julian Smith is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in Outside, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Wired, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He is the author of guidebooks to El Salvador, Ecuador, Virginia, and the southwestern United States, and he has been honored by the Society of American Travel Writers for writing the best guidebook of the year. He lives with his wife and daughter in Portland, Oregon.