The Extraordinary Life of Richard Halliburton, the World's First Celebrity Travel Writer
Email this review


Separating the escapades from the exaggerations in the life of one of the best adventurers of his age.

After graduating from Princeton, Richard Halliburton (1900-1939) and his friend Mike Hockaday worked their way across the Atlantic to Hamburg on a freighter. Though postwar Germany was suffering under reparation costs, Halliburton’s published works always emphasized escape and optimism. Textures, sounds, and colors were more important than recent history. Ancient history was always an interest, however, and he followed the trail of Ulysses through Troy, Athens, and Ithaca. He was in Paris at the time of the Lost Generation, but he ignored their inclination to write of sexuality, politics, and race, writing instead about his own heroics. Prince (Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, 2013, etc.) makes no bones about the fact that Halliburton was an adventurer, not an explorer. He was out to make a name for himself, always daring to break the rules in order to get the story. His books were bestsellers, and his fans came from all walks of life; children wanted to emulate him, grandmothers wanted to adopt him, and many wished to marry him—but marriage was never in his plans. He had no need to be tied down, and his homosexuality was neatly masked by his daring exploits. He was never physically robust, but his nervous energy and determination made up for a lack of strength. It’s easy to understand his popularity during the heady days of the 1920s and his need to escape in the ’30s. He was a celebrity travel writer, star of the lecture circuit, and he dined with kings, movie stars, and anyone with influence who might help finance his next trip.

A rollicking tale of the incredible saga of a man constantly searching for the next exploit and sharing them in his writings.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61373-159-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Chicago Review
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2016


NonfictionEVEL by Leigh Montville
by Leigh Montville
NonfictionEXPLORERS HOUSE by Robert M. Poole
by Robert M. Poole
ChildrenDAREDEVIL by Meghan McCarthy
by Meghan McCarthy