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About Buddy Levy
Levy was a contributing writer on the 2018 documentary film The Weight of Water. The film was based in part on the book No Barriers, which Levy co-authored with blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer. The film premiered at the 2018 Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prize and the Best Mountain Film Award. It has since won The People's Choice Award for Best Documentary at the 2018 Denver Film Festival; Best Sport and Adventure Film at the 2018 Mendi Bilbao Film Festival; and Audience Choice Award at the 2019 Waimea Ocean Film Festival.
Levy's most recent book is Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition (St. Martins Press, 2019). Levy is the author of the National Bestseller No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon (with Erik Weihenmayer; Thomas Dunne Books, 2017); GERONIMO: The Life and Times of An American Warrior (co-authored with Coach Mike Leach, Simon & Schuster, 2014) and River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon (Bantam Dell, 2011). His other books include the critically acclaimed and Amazon #1 Bestseller Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs (Bantam Dell, 2008), which he is currently developing for a television series; American Legend: The Real-Life Adventures of David Crockett (Putnam, 2005, Berkley Books, 2006); and Echoes On Rimrock: In Pursuit of the Chukar Partridge (Pruett, 1998). His books have been published in seven languages.
As a freelance journalist he has covered adventure sports and lifestyle/travel subjects around the world, including working with TV impresario Mark Burnett on numerous Eco-Challenges, and other adventure expeditions in Argentina, Borneo, Europe, Greenland, Morocco, and the Philippines. His interests are wide-ranging: discovery and adventure, the mountain men, arctic exploration travail, clashes of empires and civilizations, conspiracy theories, and riveting human stories of survival.
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“A thrilling and harrowing story. If it’s a cliche to say I couldn’t put this book down, well, too bad: I couldn’t put this book down.” —Jess Walter, bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins
“Polar exploration is utter madness. It is the insistence of life where life shouldn’t exist. And so, Labyrinth of Ice shows you exactly what happens when the unstoppable meets the unmovable. Buddy Levy outdoes himself here. The details and story are magnificent.” —Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington
Based on the author's exhaustive research, the incredible true story of the Greely Expedition, one of the most harrowing adventures in the annals of polar exploration.
In July 1881, Lt. A.W. Greely and his crew of 24 scientists and explorers were bound for the last region unmarked on global maps. Their goal: Farthest North. What would follow was one of the most extraordinary and terrible voyages ever made.
Greely and his men confronted every possible challenge—vicious wolves, sub-zero temperatures, and months of total darkness—as they set about exploring one of the most remote, unrelenting environments on the planet. In May 1882, they broke the 300-year-old record, and returned to camp to eagerly await the resupply ship scheduled to return at the end of the year. Only nothing came.
250 miles south, a wall of ice prevented any rescue from reaching them. Provisions thinned and a second winter descended. Back home, Greely’s wife worked tirelessly against government resistance to rally a rescue mission.
Months passed, and Greely made a drastic choice: he and his men loaded the remaining provisions and tools onto their five small boats, and pushed off into the treacherous waters. After just two weeks, dangerous floes surrounded them. Now new dangers awaited: insanity, threats of mutiny, and cannibalism. As food dwindled and the men weakened, Greely's expedition clung desperately to life.
Labyrinth of Ice tells the true story of the heroic lives and deaths of these voyagers hell-bent on fame and fortune—at any cost—and how their journey changed the world.
“I and my companions suffer from a disease of the heart which can be cured only with gold.” —Hernán Cortés
It was a moment unique in human history, the face-to-face meeting between two men from civilizations a world apart. Only one would survive the encounter. In 1519, Hernán Cortés arrived on the shores of Mexico with a roughshod crew of adventurers and the intent to expand the Spanish empire. Along the way, this brash and roguish conquistador schemed to convert the native inhabitants to Catholicism and carry off a fortune in gold. That he saw nothing paradoxical in his intentions is one of the most remarkable—and tragic—aspects of this unforgettable story of conquest.
In Tenochtitlán, the famed City of Dreams, Cortés met his Aztec counterpart, Montezuma: king, divinity, ruler of fifteen million people, and commander of the most powerful military machine in the Americas. Yet in less than two years, Cortés defeated the entire Aztec nation in one of the most astonishing military campaigns ever waged. Sometimes outnumbered in battle thousands-to-one, Cortés repeatedly beat seemingly impossible odds. Buddy Levy meticulously researches the mix of cunning, courage, brutality, superstition, and finally disease that enabled Cortés and his men to survive.
Conquistador is the story of a lost kingdom—a complex and sophisticated civilization where floating gardens, immense wealth, and reverence for art stood side by side with bloodstained temples and gruesome rites of human sacrifice. It’s the story of Montezuma—proud, spiritual, enigmatic, and doomed to misunderstand the stranger he thought a god. Epic in scope, as entertaining as it is enlightening, Conquistador is history at its most riveting.
Praise for Conquistador
“Prodigiously researched and stirringly told, Conquistador is a rarity: an invaluable history lesson that also happens to be a page-turning read.”—Jeremy Schaap, bestselling author of Cinderella Man: James J. Braddock, Max Baer and the Greatest Upset in Boxing History, and Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics
“Sweeping and majestic . . . A pulse-quickening narrative.”—Neal Bascomb, author of Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin
In 1541, the brutal conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro and his well-born lieutenant Francisco Orellana set off from Quito in search of La Canela, South America’s rumored Land of Cinnamon, and the fabled El Dorado, “the golden man.” Driving an enormous retinue of mercenaries, enslaved natives, horses, hunting dogs, and other animals across the Andes, they watched their proud expedition begin to disintegrate even before they descended into the nightmarish jungle, following the course of a powerful river. Soon hopelessly lost in the swampy labyrinth, their numbers diminishing daily through disease, starvation, and Indian attacks, Pizarro and Orellana made a fateful decision to separate. While Pizarro eventually returned home barefoot and in rags, Orellana and fifty-seven men, in a few fragile craft, continued downriver into the unknown reaches of the mighty Amazon, serenaded by native war drums and the eerie cries of exotic predators. Theirs would be the greater glory.
Interweaving eyewitness accounts of the quest with newly uncovered details, Buddy Levy reconstructs the seminal journey that has electrified adventurers ever since, as Orellana became the first European to navigate and explore the entire length of the world’s largest river. Levy gives a long-overdue account of the native populations—some peaceful and welcoming, offering sustenance and life-saving guidance, others ferociously hostile, subjecting the invaders to gauntlets of unremitting attack and intimations of terrifying rituals. And here is the Amazon itself, a powerful presence whose every twist and turn held the promise of new wonders both natural and man-made, as well as the ever-present risk of death—a river that would hold Orellana in its irresistible embrace to the end of his life.
Overflowing with violence and beauty, nobility and tragedy, River of Darkness is both riveting history and a breathtaking adventure that will sweep readers along on an epic voyage unlike any other.
Now, American Legend debunks the tall tales to reveal the fascinating truth of Crockett’s hardscrabble childhood, his near-death experiences, his unlikely rise to Congress, and the controversial last stand at the Alamo that mythologized him beyond recognition. In this beautifully written narrative, Crockett emerges as never before: a rugged individual, a true American original, and an enduring symbol of the Western frontier.
“A great myth-busting story [that] presents Davy Crockett as a man of genius and folly, which has the unlikely effect of making him all the more heroic.”—Martin Dugard, author of The Last Voyage of Columbus and Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone
“As spellbinding and dramatic as any novel and as compelling as any reportage.”—Peter Hoffer, Distinguished Research Professor of History, The University of Georgia
Playing cowboys and Indians as a boy, legendary college football coach Mike Leach always chose to be the Indian—the underdog whose success turned on being a tough, resourceful, ingenious fighter. And the greatest Indian military leader of all was Geronimo, the Apache warrior whose name is so symbolic of courage that World War II paratroopers shouted it as they leaped from airplanes into battle.
Told in the style of Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, Leach’s compelling and inspiring book examines Geronimo’s leadership approach and the timeless strategies, decisions, and personal qualities that made him a success. Raised in an unforgiving landscape, Geronimo and his band faced enemies better armed, better equipped, and more numerous than they were. But somehow they won victories against all odds, beguiling the United States and Mexican governments and earning the respect and awe of those generals committed to hunting him down. While some believed that Geronimo had supernatural powers, much of his genius can be ascribed to old-fashioned values such as relentless training and preparation, leveraging resources, finding ways to turn defeats into victories, and being faster and more nimble than his enemy. The tactics of Geronimo would be studied and copied by the US military for generations.
Pain, pride, humility, family—many things shaped Geronimo’s life. In this “compelling book that humanizes a man many misunderstood” (New York Times bestselling author Brian Kilmeade), Mike Leach illustrates how we too can use the forces and circumstances of our own lives to build true leadership today.
2018 Colorado Book Awards finalist in Creative Nonfiction, and National Bestseller and Honorable Mention Award Winner in the Outdoor Literature category of the 2017 National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) — “A beautiful book about family and finding a way to achieve more than you ever thought possible.” —Brad Meltzer, NYT bestselling author
Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to summit Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Descending carefully, he and his team picked their way across deep crevasses and through the deadly Khumbu Icefall; when the mountain was finally behind him, Erik knew he was going to live. His expedition leader slapped him on the back and said something that would affect the course of Erik’s life: “Don’t make Everest the greatest thing you ever do.”
No Barriers is Erik’s response to that challenge. It is the moving story of his journey since descending Mount Everest: from leading expeditions around the world with blind Tibetan teenagers to helping injured soldiers climb their way home from war, from adopting a son from Nepal to facing the most terrifying reach of his life: to solo kayak the thunderous whitewater of the Grand Canyon.
Along the course of Erik’s journey, he meets other trailblazers—adventurers, scientists, artists, and activists—who, despite trauma, hardship, and loss, have broken through barriers of their own. These pioneers show Erik surprising ways forward that surpass logic and defy traditional thinking.
Like the rapids of the Grand Canyon, created by inexorable forces far beneath the surface, No Barriers is a dive into the heart and mind at the core of the turbulent human experience. It is an exploration of the light that burns in all of us, the obstacles that threaten to extinguish that light, and the treacherous ascent towards growth and rebirth.