The river Tigris is in danger. It has been the lifeblood of ancient Mesopotamia and modern Iraq, but geopolitics and climate change have left the birthplace of civilisation at risk of becoming uninhabitable. In 2021, adventurer Leon McCarron travelled by boat along the full length of the river, in search of hope.
From the source, where Assyrian kings had their images carved into stone, Leon and his small team journeyed through the Turkish mountains, across north-east Syria and into the heart of Iraq. Passing by historic cities like Diyarbakir, Mosul and Baghdad, Leon kept the company of fishermen and farmers, but also artists, activists and archaeologists who rely on the flow of the river. Occasionally harassed by militias, often helped by soldiers, Leon rode his luck in areas still troubled by ISIS and relied on the generosity of a network of strangers to reach the Persian Gulf.
Join Leon on stage to hear his incredible story - a story of what humanity stands to lose with the death of a great river, and what can be done to try to save it.
Leon’s book The Wounded Tigris: A River Journey through the Cradle of Civilisation will be available to purchase at the Festival book store over the Festival weekend. Wanderlust Magazine has listed it as one of the best travel books of 2023.
There will be a book signing straight after the event.
Published by Hachette UK.
"Leon makes the perfect companion for the dusty road" - Benedict Allen
"A marvellous adventure and an impressive feat of endurance. This is also a journey that explores the people and landscapes of a misunderstood part of the world with great insight and enthusiasm" - Ranulph Fiennes on The Land Beyond
"McCarron is great company, amusing and wise beyond his years (yet still retaining the wide-eyed nature of youth)" - 220 Triathlon Magazine
"The book is easy to read, fast-paced, funny and introspective" - Adventure Travel Magazine on The Road Headed West
“A journey through both time and ecological crisis: as epic as it is engaging.” - Tom Holland
“Hewn with the visceral language and spirit you’d expect from this adventurer.” - National Geographic Traveller
About Leon McCarron:
Leon McCarron is an award-winning writer, broadcaster and explorer from Northern Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the Geographical Society of Philadelphia's Explorer of the Year, and is known for long-distance expeditions and immersive multimedia storytelling. In the past decade he has travelled over 50,000km by human power, and is currently based in Iraq.