A Wanderer Until I Die

The cover of Clark’s first book.

Leonard Clark was one of those interesting Never Sweats who went on to live a very colorful life. Clark was born in 1907 in British Columbia, but was raised in the Honey Lake Valley, as his mother was a member of the pioneer Brubeck-Grass-Litch families of the same place. After he graduated from Lassen High School in 1925, he was struck with wanderlust. By the early 1930s he had explored Asia extensively and wrote his first book, A Wanderer Until I Die. The book published in 1937, as one review began, “Aviator, soldier of fortune, mountain climber this young American has adventure in his blood. From tiger and python hunting in China, treasure hunting in Malaysia . . .” The following year he married Jean Wingfield, daughter of Nevada tycoon George Wingfield.

Because of his vast knowledge and contacts in China and Mongolia, during the early stages of World War II, he was recruited by the American OSS, the forerunner of today’s CIA to conduct espionage and guerrilla warfare in those two countries. After the war, he continued with his adventures and now focused on South America. In 1952, his most popular book, The Rivers Ran East was published, which is his account for the search of the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola in the Peruvian Andes. It was also in South America where he met his demise. On May 4, 1957, Clark drowned in the Caroni River, Venezuela while on a diamond mine expedition.

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