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The Adventurer's Son: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

In 2014, 27-year old Cody Dial began a solo trek into the Corcovado jungles of Costa Rica. This was not a new experience for him. He had gone on numerous adventures that allowed him to explore the world around him. However, this time, he did not come back.

The Adveturer’s Son details a grieving father’s two-year quest to unravel the questions surrounding his son’s disappearance. Noted as an adventurer and explorer in his own right, Roman Dial’s determination for answers about Cody’s eventual fate led him to those same jungles. During this same search, Dial came to a  realization about the nature of their relationship that compelled the son to compete with and, perhaps, stand apart from his father.

— Bud


“A brave and marvelous book. A page-turner that will rip your heart out.” —Jon Krakauer

In the tradition of Into the Wild comes an instant classic of outdoor literature, a riveting work of uncommon depth: The Adventurer’s Son is Roman Dial’s extraordinary account of his two-year quest to unravel the mystery of his son’s fate.

In the predawn hours of July 10, 2014, the twenty-seven-year-old son of preeminent Alaskan scientist and National Geographic Explorer Roman Dial, walked alone into Corcovado National Park, an untracked rainforest along Costa Rica’s remote Pacific Coast that shelters miners, poachers, and drug smugglers. He carried a light backpack and machete. Before he left, Cody Roman Dial emailed his father: “I am not sure how long it will take me, but I’m planning on doing 4 days in the jungle and a day to walk out. I’ll be bounded by a trail to the west and the coast everywhere else, so it should be difficult to get lost forever.”

They were the last words Dial received from his son.

As soon as he realized Cody Roman’s return date had passed, Dial set off for Costa Rica. As he trekked through the dense jungle, interviewing locals and searching for clues—the authorities suspected murder—the desperate father was forced to confront the deepest questions about himself and his own role in the events. Roman had raised his son to be fearless, to be at home in earth’s wildest places, travelling together through rugged Alaska to remote Borneo and Bhutan. Was he responsible for his son’s fate? Or, as he hoped, was Cody Roman safe and using his wilderness skills on a solo adventure from which he would emerge at any moment?

Part detective story set in the most beautiful yet dangerous reaches of the planet, The Adventurer’s Son emerges as a far deeper tale of discovery—a journey to understand the truth about those we love the most. 

The Adventurer’s Son includes fifty black-and-white photographs.

About the Author

ROMAN DIAL is a pioneering American adventurer and a professor of mathematics and biology at Alaska Pacific University. "Renowned for audacious feats in mountaineering, ice climbing, rafting, and grueling backcountry endurance races," writes National Geographic, "Roman is a mythic figure." A former National Geographic Explorer, he received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and lives in Anchorage.

Praise For…

“Roman Dial has written a brave and marvelous book. It’s a page-turner that will rip your heart out.”
— JON KRAKAUER, author of Into the Wild

“A haunting, beautifully-crafted narrative by one of the renowned wilderness explorers of our time. Above all else, The Adventurer’s Son is a sensitive tribute to a son who never emerged from his journey into the rainforests of Central America. Riveting and complex, this is a book that will remain with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”
— REBECCA MARTIN, President, Exploration Connections, and Founding Director, National Geographic Expeditions Council

“Out of an unbearable personal tragedy, Roman Dial has fashioned an unbearably powerful memoir. The Adventurer’s Sonis at once the narrative of a desperate search for a lost son, a poignant meditation on the depths of paternal love, and, in the end, a reaffirmation of the glory of exploration and adventure in the teeth of sorrow and loss.”
— DAVID ROBERTS, award-winning adventure writer and co-author (with “Free Solo” star Alex Honnold) of Alone on the Wall

“In its emotional restraint and careful descriptions of the wild, this is a slow-burning tribute. A poignant, highly moving memoir of tragic circumstances and a lifelong love of exploring.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping. … Dial paints a riveting, richly conflicted portrait of family legacies and the call of the wild.”
— Publishers Weekly

"The Adventurer's Son is a gripping account of a tight-knit family whose shared passion for the natural world leads them unsuspectingly to that harshest traverse of all, across time, life and death."
— SETH KANTNER, bestselling author of Ordinary Wolves

"An explorer at heart, a scientist by profession, and a parent above all else, Dial guides readers on a suspenseful and heart-wrenching journey from the windswept Alaskan tundra to the impenetrable Costa Rican jungle. The Adventurer's Son is a poignant story about loss, but also about a father’s passion for adventure, his love for his son, and the bonds forged through their experiences in the natural world."
— CAROLINE VAN HEMERT, author of The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds

"Real-life mystery, travelogue, nature writing, and memoir all combine to make this book a must-read that you'll stay up all night to finish."
— Book Riot

"[A] powerful memoir of a father's love of adventure and of his child. ... Complex and moving. ... Through the twists and turns of his search, Dial must follow his own compass to stay true to the son he knew."
— Booklist

"[A] true-life family saga. ... Both riveting and devastating."
— Chicago Tribune

"This book will stay with readers long after the last page is turned...a provocative exploration of fatherhood and a moving tribute to a son whose wish as a small boy was to be called by his father’s name."
— Anchorage Press

The Adventurer’s Son is energized by spectacular descriptions of nature and by the narrative action of a father’s fight to find a beloved son. But it is its universality, this question of how to live and why, of how to understand nature, that gives it resonance and beauty."

— Christian Science Monitor

"Much more than a simple mystery. ... A moving portrait of an inspired young man and a firsthand account of a father’s desperate hunt for his missing son."
— Men's Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062876607
ISBN-10: 0062876600
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020
Pages: 368
Language: English