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The Extraordinary Life of Richard Halliburton, the World's First Celebrity Travel Writer
With a polished walking stick and neatly pressed trousers, Richard Halliburton served as an intrepid globetrotting guide for millions of Americans in the 1920s and '30s. Readers waited with bated breath for each new article and book he wrote. During his career, Halliburton climbed the Matterhorn, nearly fell out of his plane while shooting the first aerial photographs of Mount Everest, and became the first person to swim the full length of the Panama Canal. With his matinee idol looks, the Tennessee native was a media darling in an era of optimism and increased social openness. But as the Great Depression and looming war pushed America toward social conservatism, Halliburton more actively worked to hide his homosexuality, burnishing his image as a masculine trailblazer. No middle ground existed regarding Halliburton--he was either adored or abhorred. Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald called the Princeton graduate a poseur, a symbol of nouveau riche depravity. But most found his daredevil persona irresistible. As chronicled in American Daredevil, Halliburton harnessed the media of his day to gain and maintain a widespread following long before our age of the twenty-four-hour news cycle, and thus became the first adventure journalist. And during the darkest hours of the Great Depression, Halliburton did something remarkable: he inspired generations of authors, journalists, and everyday people who dreamed of fame and glory to explore the world.