Wade Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. Named by the NGS as one of the Explorers for the Millennium, he has been described as “a rare combination of scientist, scholar, poet and passionate defender of all of life’s diversity.” In recent years, his work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, Polynesia, Tibet, Mali, Benin, Togo, New Guinea, Australia, Colombia, Vanuatu, Mongolia and the high Arctic of Nunuvut and Greenland.

His latest book, Magdalena, River of Dreams: A Story of Columbia tells of his travels on the mighty Magdalena, the river that made possible the nation. In Magdalena, he finds a people who have overcome years of conflict precisely because of their character, informed by an enduring spirit of place, and a deep love of a land that is home to the greatest ecological and geographical diversity on the planet.  As Davis explains, only in Colombia can a traveler wash ashore in a coastal desert, follow waterways through wetlands as wide as the sky, ascend narrow tracks through dense tropical forests, and reach verdant Andean valleys rising to soaring ice-clad summits. Both a corridor of commerce and a fountain of culture, the wellspring of Colombian music, literature, poetry, and prayer, the Magdalena has served in dark times as the graveyard of the nation. And yet, always, it returns as a river of life. At once an absorbing adventure and an inspiring tale of hope and redemption, Magdalena gives the reader a rare picture of a nation on the verge of a new period of peace. Braiding together memoir, history, and journalism, he tells the story of the country’s most magnificent river, and in doing so, tells the epic story of Colombia.

Wade Davis has published over 20 book including Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest, the definitive story of the British adventurers who survived the trenches of World War I and went on to risk their lives climbing Mount Everest. His books have been translated into sixteen languages and have sold over 900,000 copies worldwide.

An ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker, he holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. He is also the recipient of numerous awards including The Explorers Medal, the highest award of the Explorers Club (2011), the Gold Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (2009), the 2002 Lowell Thomas Medal (The Explorer’s Club) and the 2002 Lannan Foundation $125,000 prize for literary non-fiction.

His photographs have appeared in some 30 books and more than 100 magazines, journals and newspapers, including National Geographic, Time, Geo, People, Men’s Journal, Outside and National Geographic Adventure. They have been exhibited at the International Center of Photography (I.C.P.), the Annenberg Space for Photography, the Marsha Ralls Gallery, Washington, DC, the United Nations, the Carpenter Center of Harvard University and the Utama Center, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Photo credit: Adam Dillon.

Buy Wade Davis’s books at Book Passage

Other 2021 Authors & Speakers

Walter Isaacson

Nicole Perlroth

Dave Barry

Luis J. Rodriguez

Dr. Euan Ashley

Dr. Steven E. Koonin

Tom Ikeda

Daniel James Brown

Amy Tan

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Min Jin Lee

Min Jin Lee

Bari Weiss

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

David M. Rubenstein

Billy Collins

Billy Collins

General H.R. McMaster

Don George

Isabel Allende

Niall Ferguson

Jeffrey Brown

Alex Filippenko

Dr. Ramon Resa

Julia Flynn Siler

James Strock