"For decades after his death in 1789, John Ledyard was celebrated as the greatest explorer America had ever produced. A veteran of Captain Cook's final voyage, he walked across nearly all of Russia and suggested to his friend Thomas Jefferson that traversing the American continent was feasible--inspiring the Lewis and Clark expedition. When he died he was preparing to venture into Africa. Once as famous as the Founding Fathers whom he had befriended and beguiled, the "American traveler," as Ledyard was called, fell into obscurity over the years, reduced to becoming a footnoted reference in Moby Dick. Journalist Gifford reenacted Ledyard's 1772 escape from Dartmouth College in a canoe and followed his trail down the length of the Lena River in Siberia. Here he reveals the man in the legend, bringing back an American original and giving us a story that until now has not been fully told.--From publisher description."--From source other than the Library of CongressTraces the historical contributions of the eighteenth-century American explorer, from his walking travels through Russia and friendship with Thomas Jefferson to his inspiration for Lewis and Clark's expedition and his fall from fame into obscurity.