Wednesday, August 29, 2012


As you may remember, I posted recently about The Lunatic Express, journalist Carl Hoffman's book about navigating the globe by means of the world's most dangerous forms of transport. Carl wrote to thank me. And then, earlier in the week, I received this:

Hi Heather:

See what happens when you like someone's book?!

This feels awkward and I hate to do this to you. Really. But I need your help.

I’ve spent the last year, two, really, working on a book about the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961 for the publisher William Morrow. I’ve gone deep. I’ve found important witnesses who are still alive in Europe. I’ve had an awesome researcher in Amsterdam, who’s uncovered hundreds of pages of documents that have never been seen before. And I spent February and March in New Guinea, where I stayed with the sons of the men who last saw Michael. And I’ve written 50,000 words so far.

A year into the project I’m running out of money. And I want to go back – back to Europe to talk to the witnesses again, back to New Guinea. Quality is all about the details. The more I get, the more questions I have and the more details I want. And key to the whole story is a deep understanding of the Asmat – it’s their sacred world that Michael Rockefeller fell into – and that only comes with time. Time spend in remote villages on the other side of the Earth.

I’m launching a project to raise money to finish my book on Please check it out!

If you feel like contributing, awesome – and there are some great rewards if you do.

If you don’t, no worries – but I’d love it if you could help get the word out – post a Kickstarter link on your Facebook page, Tweet it, send a note to friends by email, tell your friends and anyone you think would be interested. Smoke signals, carrier pigeon, whatever.

If you’re moved to donate, great, but don’t feel any pressure to do so. I’m just hoping you’ll help spread the word.

I only receive the full donation if my benchmark is met. Time is of the essence – if I don’t reach my goal by September 19th, I don’t get anything.

Please: don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or ideas.

And thank you. A lot. It’s going to be a great story and you can help me do it justice.



I immediately googled Michael Rockefeller and asked Carl, What's up with the Milt Machlin guy who already did a book on him?

Carl replied: "Machlin's book came out in 1972 and it's not very good, and most of it is him chasing tales of MR alive and well and living in the Trobriand Islands. Toward the end he finds a priest in the Netherlands who was involved in the case in 61 and he tells Machlin the basic story, but that's a small part of the book and it was just this one lone voice, with no documentation or corroboration from anyone else. I've gone way beyond Machlin and found everything - and there's a lot - and people who were intimately connected to the case and are still alive. I could go on forever.....:)."

 My only reservation is that in the chase for a missing person, especially when cannibals are involved, the person and his or her terribly human suffering, tend to get lost. Whatever happened to Michael Rockefeller, he must have known, or may still be knowing, terror, physical pain, and an almost unimaginable sense of exile and abandonment. Which on the other hand I'm sure is exactly why Carl would like to find him, or find out what happened to him. It also sounds like a gripping story. And I told him I'd post his appeal on my blog. So here you go. And I want a free book!

You can find more pix and more of the story to date at Plus folks--scroll down a few posts--the urine-drinking, adulterous natives, or some of them, are Catholic!


1 comment:

  1. Methinks I'd rather get lost in the desert than in a jungle, even if death came sooner.


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