Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Death-Defying Adventures Abroad and Inside

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Death-Defying Adventures Abroad and Inside

Article excerpt

Death-defying Adventures Abroad and Inside Cathryn J. Prince. American Daredevil: The Extraordinary Life of Richard Halliburton, the World's First Celebrity Travel Writer. Chicago: Chicago Press Review, October 2016. ISBN: 978-1-61373-159-8. $27.99. 323pp.

This is a biography of Richard Halliburton's travel writing in the 20s and 30s. Adventure in those days was riskier than it is today, and apparently he nearly died by falling out of his plane as he strained to take the first aerial photographs of Mount Everest. While his achievements were celebrated, he worked to hide his private life, which was highlighted by his homosexuality. The book is authored by a journalist that has traveled the world herself, so she uplifts his triumphs and failures to tragic lows and comedic highs.

Photographs from Halliburton's travels, maps of his progress, and detailed notes and an index guide the reader, and should help any serious researcher mine for the needed bits. At the same time, the narrative is written in a style of an adventure novel. It opens with a description of Halliburton at the start of his peak years: "The fair-haired young man shivered against the cold, despite wearing three sweaters and two pairs of pants..." (1). It must have been difficult to describe what he wore on this occasion as opposed to where he was or what he wrote in his column. Details like this take a bit of fiction and a lot of background research on the period. Three sweaters? You can't tell that from a photo. There are many other personal details scattered throughout like: "He swam endless laps at the YMCA to keep fit" (42). …

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