In what is either the most ambitious or pretentious story a journalist has ever pitched (or possibly both), two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Salopek wants to spend the next 15 years retracing humanity’s journey out of Africa and into the Americas.
Dubbing the project, “Out of Eden,” Salopek would, in six separate legs, walk from Kenya through the Middle East to China, before crossing the Bering Strait and walking the length of the American continent to Patagonia in Chile, according to his proposal.
Here’s how he explains it:
It is a hegira across 3,000 or more human generations. Across 26,000 kilometers of our planet’s surface. Across six to seven years of my life. Far from being a stunt, it is a serious narrative project that draws together all the strands of my experience as a traveller and a journalist—innumerable frontier crossings, dozens of wars, stints in various Third World prisons, forays into alien cities and among distant rivers, mountains and highways, plus a background in natural science—and braids them into the ultimate story of us: an “assignment” in the spirit of Herodotus, or of the medieval Islamic traveller Ibn Battuta. Alternating between deep history and the cacophony of contemporary life that I’ll encounter en route, it is, in sum, a long walk into our becoming.
According to the proposal, Salopek would publish his tales through a website (although National Geographic and the New Yorker have also evidently expressed interest).
Salopek was a long-time war correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He won Pulitzers for his reporting on the Human Genome Diversity Project and his dispatches from Africa.
Here is a rough idea of what the journey would look like:
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