Living with Cannibals and Other Womens Adventures

Michele Slung, Author, Unknown, Illustrator National Geographic Society $22 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7922-7686-9
The idea for this wonderful survey of some now-forgotten female adventurers came from Susan Fifer Canby, the National Geographic Society's librarian, who supplies a charming afterword and a bibliography. Veteran author/editor Slung (Slow Hand, Crime on Her Mind, etc.) was a wise choice to create these brief, tantalizing profiles of 16 women from the last two centuries. She brings life and insight even to familiar subjects like primatologists Dian Fossey and Birut Galdikas. Some of her subjects are emblematic of scientific progress in certain fields, like pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart, who is paired with Mir astronaut Shannon Lucid. While the more modern women, such as alpinist Catherine Destivelle or Helen Thayer (who trekked to the North Pole with only a husky for help and companionship), accomplish awesome physical feats, the truly fascinating accounts are those of women in the 19th and early 20th centuries, who faced cultural prejudices, went into uncharted territories and often described their travels in exceedingly popular books: California socialite Louise Arner Boyd voyaged to and photographed the Arctic; bourgeois Vienna housewife Ida Pfeiffer lived among headhunters and cannibals; privileged New Englander Fanny Bullock Workman climbed peaks in India in the early 1900s. This small volume will find many fans among readers interested in learning about extraordinary women's lives and will likely whet the appetite for reissues of the pioneers' early books. 40+ b&w illus. not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/03/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
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