New Books Network

Andrew Wright Hurley talks about the life and afterlife of the Prussian explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, a man whose reputation has shifted to reflect the...

Andrew Wright Hurley talks about the life and afterlife of the Prussian explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, a man whose reputation has shifted to reflect the changing cultures of Australia and Germany over the past 160 years. Hurley is an associate professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney. He’s the author of Ludwig Leichhardt’s Ghosts: The Strange Career of a Traveling Myth (Camden House, 2018).

After the renowned Prussian scientist and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt left the Australian frontier in 1848 on an expedition to cross the continent, he disappeared without a trace. Andrew Hurley’s book complicates that view by undertaking an afterlife biography of “the Humboldt of Australia.” Although Leichhardt’s remains were never located, he has been sought and textually “found” many times over, particularly in Australia and Germany. He remains a significant presence, a highly productive ghost who continues to “haunt” culture.


Michael F. Robinson is professor of history at Hillyer College, University of Hartford. He’s the author of The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2006) and The Lost White Tribe: Scientists, Explorers, and the Theory that Changed a Continent (Oxford University Press, 2016). He’s also the host of the podcast Time to Eat the Dogs, a weekly podcast about science, history, and exploration.