Book Review: Title: The New Age of Adventure: Ten Years of Great Writing

Adventure Travel, Travel Books & Movies, Weekly Travel News — By on November 2, 2009 at 7:00 am

Age of Adventure National Geographic by Lisa Katzenberger
Special to Lost Girls World

National Geographic Adventure is the magazine for readers who prefer to climb around the wild outdoors versus just glance at the pictures from the safety of their couch. Their new anthology, The New Age of Adventure: Ten Years of Great Writing, strikes the same chord as their down-in-the-dirt-details magazine.

Sure, they may sound a little confident with their claim of “ten years of great writing,” but the book really delivers. The anthology is filled with flawless writing and stunning stories pulled from the award-winning magazine’s ten-year life. Story after story reels you in and instantly transports you through lush language to another part of the world.

The anthology breaks the stories up into four sections. “Reporting From the Edge” provides a journalistic approach to discovering different cultures of the world. The section starts off with Sebastian Junger‘s “The Lion in Winter,” a startling look at Afghanistan guerrilla war warrior Ahmad Shah Massoud that was originally published in the spring of 2001. And in “Off the Face of the Earth” Peter Lane Taylor crawls around a complex system of underground caves where the Stermers family hid from the Nazis for nearly a full year in 1942. He shares details of how the surviving members of the family – young children at the time – look back on this experience with heart-breaking strength.

“Sexy Beasts” covers stories about how our animal friends survive in this world. In “Place of Darkness,” Kira Salak shares her encounters with mountain gorillas trying to survive the war in Congo and contemplates who the more humane animal is: man or gorilla. “Stomping Grounds” by Paul Kvinta investigates the culture of “human-elephant conflict” where elephant stampedes in India have caused deaths in the thousands over the past two decades.

“Personal Journeys” includes personal narratives, such as friends surviving a 21-day kayaking through the Aleutian Islands, and a Vietnam vet surviving his emotional journey back to the ghost-filled battlefields of his youth. In “The Outer Limits” writers venture to the farthest reaches of the world – from travelling alongside Siberian reindeer farmers to exploring the blank Sahara where the even the map labels the area as “nothing” – Tenere.

Every story in The New Age of Adventure carries the potential for self-discovery. How does your life feel when you examine it from inside the still void of Siberia’s Tenere? What do you do when, in the middle of a 22-day canoe trip in the Grand Canyon, where contact with others is rare and random, you place a call home from a pay phone on September 11, 2001? Do you continue on your scheduled trip, and hang out among America’s nooks and crannies or head home to hunker down in front of its 24-hour ticker-filled news channels? The story of elephants finding a place to call home among India’s skyrocketing population begs the question: who’s closing in on whose turf? These stories share the underlying theme that seeing the world is also about seeing ourselves and learning more about the human race in the name of adventure.

Overall, the stories are moving and inspiring and stirring, although The Sexy Beasts section wasn’t as immediately engaging as others. And, Lost Girls readers, it’s worth pointing out to this crowd that out of twenty-five beautiful travel stories only three were authored by women. (Kira Salak also has “Hell and Back” and Gretel Ehrlich’s contributes “The Vanishing Breed.”)

The stories in The New Age of Adventure pull you along like a quick and smooth zip line tour. Happy to watch the world move by, to observe it from a different perspective, not really noticing time pass, not really wanting the journey to end. And then the instant you complete one story, breathless, pondering what you just experienced, you’re anxious to clip on to the next line, to jump into the next story, and discover what lies ahead.

The New Age of Adventure: Ten Years of Great Writing

Publisher: National Geographic Society
Release Date: Now available (released September 15, 2009)
$16.95
LG Rating: * * * * (out of 5)

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Lisa Katzenberger lives in Chicago and is working on her second novel. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Quality Women’s Fiction, Foliate Oak, Cooler by the Lake, and PoemMemoirStory. She blogs about writing at Fictioncity.blogspot.com.

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