About The Geography Lesson

“With ‘The Geography Lesson’, John Buckley has produced a novel that is part mystery story, part adventure, and pure delight.  He guides readers on a fast-paced voyage of discovery, from the silent, unspoiled ruins of the Anasazi cliffs to the solemn grandeur of the Inca highlands to the Byzantine maze of the National Geographic Society.  All serve as backdrop for Timothy Prescott’s journey of the heart, fueled by one man’s need to reconcile lost love, betrayed friendship, and what seems to be a brazen assault on a cultural treasure.  Buckley is a masterful guide who writes with clarity and grace that never intrude on a narrative you will savor and remember.”

Former National Geographic Executive Editor Robert M. Poole, and the author of Explorer’s House: National Geographic And The World

“’The Geography Lesson’ is more than just a delight to read. It is a finely crafted story with developed characters, coherent narration, intriguing circumstances, compelling plot, and true insights about human motive and motivation. In other words, John Buckley has given us back a literary genre that has been absent without leave for a generation or more. ‘The Geography Lesson’ is no less than The Return of the Novel.”

Author and humorist P.J. O’Rourke

The National Geographic Society is a stately American icon, and a hugely successful media company, but in John Buckley’s new novel The Geography Lesson, it wasn’t always so.

The Geography Lesson tells the gripping story of a botched 1968 expedition in which a National Geographic writer and photographer discover a magnificent Anasazi ruin in Southern Utah. Yet between the moment they make their discovery and their return some weeks later with U.S. government officials, the site is ransacked, and all its most valuable artifacts looted, creating a Washington kerfuffle that brings shame on the National Geographic Society.

Nearly 40 years later, as The Geography Lesson begins, retired National Geographic writer Tim Prescott spies the distinctive vase he last saw in that ruin in Utah that he and photographer Wesley Channing discovered, but failed to protect. In a development that will have fatal consequences, he spies the vase in the pages of a magazine photo spread on the luxury condo owned by a certain hedge fund millionaire. From the moment Prescott sees that vase, in that particular apartment, owned by that particular young millionaire, he knows exactly who betrayed him, and who it was that embroiled the National Geographic Society, and Prescott himself, in scandal, all those years before.

The Geography Lesson is a story that could only be written by John Buckley. In The Washington Post, Marjorie Williams hailed John Buckley’s first novel, Family Politics, saying, “Buckley is a writer of charm and wit and even some gravity. The most pleasant thing of all about Family Politics is the grace of Buckley’s prose.” The Wall Street Journal called Family Politics “engaging, high-spirited, and endearingly goofy. You would be hard-pressed to find as good-natured a novel with which to while away the time this summer.” The New York Times Book Review called Family Politics “a clever, mordant, fun and funny story.”

Ross Thomas called Buckley’s second novel, Statute of Limitations, “a sprightly political thriller” and “a likeable, enjoyable tale.” Publishers Weekly wrote that in Statute of Limitations, “Buckley irreverently reveals the inner workings of the White House and the news media, convincingly depicting the games Washington insiders play. The serpentine plot is refreshingly loophole free and absorbing.”

In his first new novel in more than 20 years, bestselling author John Buckley returns with a tale that is by turns an adventure story, a love letter by an elderly man to his recently deceased wife, and a deeply funny exploration of the National Geographic Society, one of the last Washington institutions to be so revealed by a novelist as knowing as Buckley. The Geography Lesson builds to a thrilling conclusion as Tim Prescott and Wes Channing return, one more time, to work for National Geographic, and to confront what happened in an obscure canyon out West, all those years ago.

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