Book Review: The Explorer King: Adventure, Science, and the Great Diamond Hoax

Blog, Book Reviews

I came across The Explorer King while browsing the stacks in the Yosemite Research Library. I’ve wanted to learn more about the early mountaineers in the Sierra Nevada and this biography Clarence King offered just that. I read it cover to cover over three days and generally liked it.


As with all of our heroes, they are ultimately human beings, and thus imperfect.

In “The Explorer King”, Robert Wilson examines the life of Clarence King—the scientist, adventurer, romantic, first superintendent of the United States Geological Survey, and failed businessman of the 1800s Gilded Age. In the process, the author learns that King, while brilliant, was not the incorruptible icon people wanted him to be.