Cover image for The devil may care : fifty intrepid Americans and their quest for the unknown
The devil may care : fifty intrepid Americans and their quest for the unknown
Horwitz, Tony, 1958-
Publication Information:
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xviii, 283 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
General Note:
Biographies selected from the American national biography.

Maps on lining papers.
Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca -- John Smith -- David Pietersen de Vries -- Francesco Giuseppe Bressani -- Hannah Duston -- Sir Alexander Cuming -- Ann Hennis Trotter Bailey -- Jean Baptiste Point du Sable -- Samuel Mason -- John Ledyard -- Simon Kenton -- George Crowninshield, Jr. -- Anne Newport Royall -- John Colter -- Giacomo Constantino Beltrami -- Marie Dorion -- Frances Wright -- George Catlin -- Samuel Patch -- David Douglas -- John August Sutter -- James Bridger -- Jacob Netsvetov -- Eliza Hart Spalding -- John Wise -- Albert Pike -- Grizzly Adams -- Agoston Haraszthy de Mokcsa -- John Charles Frémont -- Elisha Kent Kane -- Edward Zane Carroll Judson -- William Walker -- California Joe -- John Morrissey -- Mary Ann Brown Patten -- Buffalo Jones -- Joshua Slocum -- Agnes Elisabeth Winona Leclercq Joy Salm-Salm -- Railroad Bill -- Ishi -- David Fagen -- Belle Livingstone -- Hiram Bingham -- Duncan Hines -- Annette Kellerman -- Louise Arner Boyd -- Duke Paoa Kahanamoku -- Merian Coldwell Cooper -- Hubert F. Julian -- Richard Halliburton.
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
Added Uniform Title:
American national biography.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
CT9970 .D49 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
CT9970 .D49 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Stripped naked and pursued across cactus-studded plains by a band of armed Blackfoot Indians, John Colter escaped certain death to become the one of the most durable characters in western American history. But Colter's harrowing tale was not beyond the ordinary when compared to the adventuresof other American explorers. In The Devil May Care, popular historian and travel writer Tony Horwitz has culled through the American National Biography and selected fifty stirring biographies of adventurers who had no one's footsteps to follow in--and yet contributed enormously to our understandingof the world. Horwitz introduces us to fascinating individuals such as John Ledyard, the first American to see what would become the Pacific Northwest, and Elisha Kent Kane, America's first arctic hero, who stumbled upon an extremely strange remedy for scurvy while icebound off of Ellesmere Island. Havingset off into the unknown many times himself as a foreign correspondent, Horwitz brings a subtle sense of humor and a reporter's eye for detail to a collection that offers a glimpse inside the lives of historic Americans who brazenly challenged danger as they pursued their wanderlust to extremeclimates and forbidding environments. Beginning with a short essay, Horwitz seeks his own definition of exploration, drawing on some of his research into the voyages of Captain James Cook and considering its larger implications throughout history. Archival photographs as well as a lively and personal introduction to each story byHorwitz further enhance the appeal of a volume that winds its way through several centuries of American exploration, affirming that the best adventure stories are the true ones.

Author Notes

Tony Horwitz is the author of four books about history and adventure, He is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has written for publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker. Horwitz lives in Virginia with his wife and son

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The U.S. has produced a lot of well-known adventurers: Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill, Daniel Boone. But, for every familiar name, there are handfuls of lesser lights, people who made their mark and then, rather unfortunately, slipped into obscurity. People such as Simon Kenton, the Kentucky fellow whose exploits rivaled those of Daniel Boone; John Sutter, the gold-rich philanthropist who was also a noted deadbeat; Hannah Duston, whose escape from an Indian raiding party in 1697 made her a legend; William Walker, the lawyer/physician/journalist who proclaimed himself president of Nicaragua a century and a half ago. Brave, flamboyant, and, in many cases, possibly nuts, these larger-than-life adventurers and heroes helped give America its flavor, its spirit, its ambition. It's about time somebody celebrated them, or at least reminded us they existed. These biographical essays do just that--and do it with style and readability, too. --David Pitt Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Travel writer Horwitz (Blue Latitudes, etc.) combed through 18,000 biographies of "men and women who have contributed to the shaping of America" from the American National Biography to select 50 for this captivating survey of some of America's most colorful (and in some cases, forgotten) characters. Arranged chronologically from 1490-1939, these portraits convey "a sense of the narrative sweep of adventure in America." Highlights include the story of Hannah Duston, who was taken hostage after her child was murdered during an Indian attack in Massachusetts in 1697. She later escaped by scalping nine of her captors and became a New England legend, as "a symbol of feminine strength and assertiveness... [and] of the destructive power that Puritans believed was behind the feminine mask." Daredevil Samuel Patch could be considered the founder of extreme sports for his death-defying jumps, in the 1820s, off of Niagara Falls and into various other "swirling torrent[s]." Idealistic and eccentric Albert Pike embodied what Horwitz found so fascinating about many of his choices: "the conflicting impulses of the American character... twinned within the same [person]." Pike, a gifted writer and lawyer, became an ardent defender of Indian rights, winning multimillion-dollar settlements for local tribes, yet he may also "have written the ritual of the Ku Klux Klan." Horwitz has taken pains to include many women, minorities and non-native-born Americans, and the book is richer for it. Carefully selected, these brief but cogent portraits are written with humor, grace and a deep appreciation for the contributions of these largely unknown individuals. Photos, illus. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Question: what do Railroad Bill, Ishi, Grizzly Adams, John Colter, and Marie Dorion have in common? Besides having an entry in the massive American National Biography (ANB), their lives were marked by adventure, daring, and risk. Horwitz (Blue Latitudes; Confederates in the Attic) culled 50 stories from the ANB using a very broad definition of adventure. He deliberately omitted famous adventurers like Daniel Boone and Sacajawea and only included a few household names whose stories surprised him. Found here are missionaries, fur trappers, tramps, showgirls, scholars, and soldiers. For example, Railroad Bill stole, hijacked a train, evaded search parties, and after his murder became a folk hero for Southern blacks, his story immortalized in song. Dorion served as an Indian interpreter in the 1810s for fur-trapping companies in the western United States. Horwitz briefly introduces each biography and finishes the volume with a list of sources and further readings. The narratives are incredibly interesting and truly addicting. All libraries, especially those that already own ANB, will definitely want to purchase this gem.-Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca [c.1490-c.1559]p. 3
John Smith [1580-1631]p. 7
David Pietersen de Vries [1593-1655?]p. 15
Francesco Giuseppe Bressani [1612-1672]p. 19
Hannah Duston [1657-1736]p. 25
Sir Alexander Cuming [c.1690/1692-1775]p. 28
Ann Hennis Trotter Bailey [1742-1825]p. 32
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable [1745?-1818]p. 37
Samuel Mason [c.1750-1803]p. 42
John Ledyard [1751-1789]p. 47
Simon Kenton [1755-1836]p. 50
George Crowninshield, Jr. [1766-1817]p. 55
Anne Newport Royall [1769-1854]p. 59
John Colter [c.1775-1813]p. 63
Giacomo Constantino Beltrami [1779-1855]p. 68
Marie Dorion [c.1790-1850]p. 73
Frances Wright [1795-1852]p. 77
George Catlin [1796-1872]p. 81
Samuel Patch [1799-1829]p. 87
David Douglas [1799-1834]p. 90
John August Sutter [1803-1880]p. 95
James Bridger [1804-1881]p. 101
Jacob Netsvetov [1804-1864]p. 105
Eliza Hart Spalding [1807-1851]p. 109
John Wise [1808-1879]p. 114
Albert Pike [1809-1891]p. 119
Grizzly Adams [1812-1860]p. 125
Agoston Haraszthy de Mokcsa [1812-1869]p. 129
John Charles Fremont [1813-1890]p. 133
Elisha Kent Kane [1820-1857]p. 141
Edward Zane Carroll Judson [1823-1886]p. 145
William Walker [1824-1860]p. 151
California Joe [1829-1876]p. 157
John Morrissey [1831-1878]p. 165
Mary Ann Brown Patten [1837-1861]p. 168
Buffalo Jones [1844-1919]p. 173
Joshua Slocum [1844-1909?]p. 177
Agnes Elisabeth Winona Leclercq Joy Salm-Salm [1844-1912]p. 183
Railroad Bill [d. 1896]p. 186
Ishi [1862?-1916]p. 191
David Fagen [1875-1901?]p. 195
Belle Livingstone [1875?-1957]p. 199
Hiram Bingham [1875-1956]p. 203
Duncan Hines [1880-1959]p. 209
Annette Kellerman [1887-1975]p. 213
Louise Arner Boyd [1887-1972]p. 219
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku [1890-1968]p. 225
Merian Coldwell Cooper [1893-1973]p. 229
Hubert F. Julian [1897-1983]p. 237
Richard Halliburton [1900-1939]p. 241
A Note on the American National Biographyp. 245
Authors of Articlesp. 247
Sources and Further Readingsp. 249
Indexp. 275
Picture Creditsp. 282