The Adventurer's Son

- Roman Dial


In the predawn hours of July 10, 2014, the twenty-seven-year-old son of preeminent Alaskan scientist and National Geographic Explorer Roman Dial, walked alone into Corcovado National Park, an untracked rainforest along Costa Rica’s remote Pacific Coast that shelters miners, poachers, and drug smugglers. He carried a light backpack and machete. Before he left, Cody Roman Dial emailed his father: “I am not sure how long it will take me, but I’m planning on doing 4 days in the jungle and a day to walk out. I’ll be bounded by a trail to the west and the coast everywhere else, so it should be difficult to get lost forever.

They were the last words Dial received from his son.

In the tradition of Into the Wild comes an instant classic of outdoor literature, a riveting work of uncommon depth. The Adventurer’s Son is Dial’s extraordinary account of his two-year quest to unravel the mystery of his son’s fate.

As soon as he realized Cody Roman’s return date had passed, Dial set off for Costa Rica. As he trekked through the dense jungle, interviewing locals and searching for clues—the authorities suspected murder—the desperate father was forced to confront the deepest questions about himself and his own role in the events. Roman had raised his son to be fearless, to be at home in earth’s wildest places, travelling together through rugged Alaska to remote Borneo and Bhutan. Was he responsible for his son’s fate? Or, as he hoped, was Cody Roman safe and using his wilderness skills on a solo adventure from which he would emerge at any moment?



My wife, Peggy, bore our son, Cody Roman Dial, on February 22, 1987, in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peggy and I had met as teenagers there, a place that drew me for its prospect of climbing mountains, skiing glaciers, and rafting rivers. We purposefully raised Cody Roman and his sister, Jazz, in Alaska, exposing them both to natural history travel and wilderness experiences around the world.


absolute favourite:

What a book. I can barely comprehend that this is a true story. Roman Dial is a beautiful, academic writer. This contributed to a heartbreaking story in which I felt I could experience his emotions alongside him with the incredible attention to fact and detail that one would expect from an academic paper.

I especially enjoyed how the author composed the layout for this book. Starting at the beginning of his love for adventure feels unnecessary at first. But as the details all come together, you learn how his son was raised with a love for science, the outdoors, and adventure, it all comes together. It gives context as to why his son found himself in this situation.

You can feel throughout the story that the author blames himself for what happened to his son. That if he hadn’t travelled the world exploring and introducing him to these environments maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Honestly, though, the whole time I was so envious of his upbringing. To grow up travelling to extreme environments surrounded by animals and untouched wilderness sounds idyllic.

I’m not sure if it was meant to be but I found this book to be inspiring. Escaping into the wild to explore and immerse yourself in a different way of living. I usually have to force myself through non-fiction but I struggled to put this book down and found myself talking to everyone around me about it. I would recommend this book to anyone with a love for the outdoors. The pure joy this family finds in adventures in the wilderness is inspiring and beautiful and shines through in this incredibly heartbreaking story.


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