The King’s Shadow: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria

Tantor Audio Apr. 2022. 8:18 hrs. ISBN 9781666168822. $24.99. HIST
This reads like a historical fiction novel by Michael Chabon, but it is actually the true story of the life of little-known explorer Charles Masson, a storyteller, archaeologist, and spy who stumbled upon impressive adventures and findings after deserting his military post with the British East India Company. Masson adopted a new identity and became fixated on finding the lost city of Alexandria Beneath the Mountains, one of the many cities that Alexander the Great founded on his quest to conquer the world. Richardson (classics and ancient history, Univ. of Durham; Classical Victorians: Scholars, Scoundrels and Generals in Pursuit of Antiquity) interweaves Masson’s story of obsession, passionate curiosity, and dedication to discovery with Alexander’s own story. Julian Elfer’s beautiful narration takes listeners on the road with Masson and other explorers, who converged upon central Asia in the 1800s. Masson was one of the few who recognized and spoke out against imperialism and its consequences at a time when it was very unpopular to do so and paid the price for it by being relegated to historical footnotes.
VERDICT A valuable addition any nonfiction collection.
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