Adventures For Men
by Paul Safont
the late 19th century to the 1960s, there existed a men's magazine
filled with tales of adventure, hardship under extreme conditions,
and disaster. This book has taken some of the most compelling narratives
and produced a neat compendium of them, which looks somewhat like
an annual for adults complete with illustrations. Read about people
savaged by wild animals, how somebody fell into a volcano, amateur
aviation, exploration and, perhaps most compelling, the tale of
a solo ascent of Everest. Added to this are authentic adverts of
the time showing long-vanished gadgets and quack cures.
I'd imagined a paean to the glorious Boy's
Own tradition and yes, this book is certainly that. It is also a
celebration of masculinity, calling to mind the once-admired manly
heroes who were explorers, big-game hunters, and men labouring in
the outposts of the Empire, or doing foolish but brave stunts. Interspersed
between the stories (all purportedly true) are the colorful covers
of the magazine (mostly from the 1950s and 60s) as well as adverts
and snippets of incredible information. What there isn't is any
kind of introduction other than a facsimile of one from the periodical
itself, so the publishers and history of the magazine remain unknown.
It would also be interesting to know the dates of some of the articles,
as not all give any indication of when they happened in the narrative.
The stories are random, with many obviously being from early numbers,
but a sequence would have been useful. However, what the book does
most closely resemble is surely the magazine itself, which is perhaps
I wanted to review the book because I do so enjoy tales of adventure,
and I certainly got plenty of those. But for me the most important
thing about this book is its wonderful evocation of a vanished world.
This was a time when natives were savages, wildlife regarded as
brute beasts only good for hunting, and there still remained a few
unconquered peaks or uncharted wildernesses for exploring. A world
of cowboys, early aviators, lumberjacks, hunters and people doing
stunts like going over waterfalls in rubber balls. Politically incorrect?
Yes, quite gloriously so, and possibly the most evocative peep into
the psychology and ideals of the recent past outside of a time machine.
A great stocking filler if you can bear to part with it- whether
it is Christmas or not!
25 October 2004
Some gory parts
Rachel A Hyde