Horwitz, Tony 1958-
HORWITZ, Tony 1958-
PERSONAL: Born June 9, 1958, in Washington, DC; married Geraldine Brooks (a reporter), December, 1984; children: Nathaniel. Education: Brown University, B.A.; Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, M.A.
CAREER: News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN, reporter, 1983-84; Wall Street Journal, New York, NY, reporter, 1989—; freelance writer. United Woodcutters Association, labor organizer, 1982-83; Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, reporter, 1985-87.
AWARDS, HONORS: Hal Boyle Award (with Geraldine Brooks), for best daily newspaper or wire service reporting from abroad, Overseas Press Club, 1990, for coverage of Persian Gulf crisis.
One for the Road: Hitchhiking through the Australian Outback, Vintage (New York, NY), 1987.
Baghdad without a Map, and Other Misadventures in Arabia, Dutton (New York, NY), 1991, revised with new epilogue, Plume (New York, NY), 1991.
Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1998.
Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, Holt (New York, NY), 2002, published as Into the Blue: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2002.
The Devil May Care: Fifty Intrepid Americans and Their Quest for the Unknown, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including Harper's, Playboy, and Washington Monthly.
ADAPTATIONS: Blue Latitudes was adapted for audio-book, HarperAudio, 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Dubbed a "fearless practitioner of 'participatory journalism'" by Max Boot in National Review, Tony Horwitz is a former Wall Street Journal reporter who has won acclaim for both his newspaper work and his books recounting his travels in foreign lands. In his first work, One for the Road: Hitchhiking through the Australian Outback, Horwitz recounts his arduous and often humorous experiences traveling across Australia's hot, barren desert region in 1986. He relates that pubs, and their refreshing beer, provided him with valuable sustenance throughout his trek. Beer is the national drink in Australia's Northern Territory, and references to the beverage frequently crop up. The distance between two points, for instance, might be referred to as a "six-pack"—one beer for every eight minutes of travel time—or it might cost "a carton" to have one's car tailpipe fixed. One for the Road, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "is as much a chronicle of the pubs along the way as of the scenery." The critic went on to praise the book, commending Horwitz's "wry style and … eye for absurdity." Other books by Horwitz include Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, the latter a "thoughtful and entertaining investigation of the enduring Southern fascination with the Civil War" from which Horwitz distills an "extended … survey of the racial views of white Southerners," according to National Review writer Mark G. Malvasi. Characteristic of the praise accorded Horwitz's work by reviewers, Civil War History contributor Catherine Clinton praised Confederates in the Attic for its "engaging portraits of encounters along the way" and "compelling sketches of causes lost and still hard fought," its text "layered with thick description, ripe for interpretation."
Baghdad without a Map, and Other Misadventures in Arabia is an account of the intrepid Horwitz's travels through more than a dozen Middle-Eastern countries, including Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, and Libya, during the late 1980s. In this book the journalist-adventurer relates amusing and sometimes unnerving experiences, including a harrowing boat ride across the heavily mined Strait of Hormuz and a stage show featuring incompetent belly dancers. In one instance, Horwitz was present at a rally in Teheran, Iran, where men were marching and shouting "death to America." The author eventually found a demonstrator who spoke English; the man told Horwitz that "it has always been my dream" to go to Disneyland and "take my children on the tea-cup ride." After expressing his sentiments about the famous American theme park, the demonstrator returned to his anti-American chant. From his various experiences Horwitz creates "a very funny and frequently insightful look at the world's most combustible region," wrote Barry Gewen in the New York Times Book Review.
John Haman, in his review of Baghdad without a Map for the Washington Post Book World, observed that "Horwitz's inclination is for comedy, but dark realities keep breaking in." Another reviewer, Time's R. Z. Sheppard, described Horwitz as "observant and witty," and Dick Roraback, in his Los Angeles Times Book Review assessment, declared that Baghdad without a Map constitutes some "tentative, bewildered but often good-natured steps toward exploring the character of America's new adversaries—and allies—among the Arab legion."
Tantalized by the gruesome fate of eighteenth-century British captain James Cook, and tempted by the possibility of retracing the path of Cook's flagship Endeavor through the South Pacific, Horwitz spent one week at sea crewing on a replica of the Endeavor, then made the trip south, traversing the islands to Cook's ultimate destination: Hawaii, where he met his death at the hand of a tribe of cannibals. That journey is recounted in Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, a 2002 travelogue that weaves what Book contributor Terry Teachout described as a "vividly written chronicle" of Cook's historic voyages with a "hugely diverting tale" of his own (mis)adventures. He begins his saga by providing the historic backdrop to Cook's story, drawing on the captain's diaries as well as the records of horticulturalist Joseph Banks, who accompanied Cook on several of his voyages. Taken together, noted Guardian contributor Anthony Sampson, "the two records provide a unique insight into the psychology and motivation of explorers in the late 18th century, and—more important—into the isolated societies of exotic peoples before they first encountered Europeans." Fortunately for the history-averse, Horwitz "doesn't wallow too long in historical controversies" regarding Cook's role as a white European male interfering in native culture: as Boot noted in National Review, the author is "more interested in relating his own encounters with various oddballs, from falling-down-drunk Aussies reenacting Cook's landing amid wet T-shirt contests, to the giant king of Tonga waddling around his palace." Comic relief is also added through the actions of Horwitz's travel partner, Roger, according to Sampson, "a randy and impatient Australian buddy … who supplies suitably bawdy and disrespectful repartee."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armed Forces and Society, winter, 2000, Mary A. de-Credico, review of Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, p. 337.
Book, November-December, 2002, Terry Teachout, review of Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, p. 83.
Booklist, February 1, 1998, Jay Freeman, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 895; August, 1999, Karen Harris, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 2075; July, 2002, Keir Graff, review of Blue Latitudes, p. 1794.
Civil War History, December, 1998, Catherine Clinton, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 294.
Economist, June 13, 1998, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. S15.
Guardian, September 14, 2002, Anthony Sampson, review of Blue Latitudes, p. 11.
Journal of Southern History, August, 1999, Jim Cullen, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 674.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2002, review of Blue Latitudes, p. 857.
Library Journal, August, 1988, p. 158; February 1, 1998, Charles L. Lumpkins, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 99; March 15, 2003, Carolyn Alexander, review of Blue Latitudes (audiobook),p. 133.
Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2002, Bob Drogin, review of Blue Latitudes, p. R16.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 12, 1991,p. 9.
National Review, June 22, 1998, Mark G. Malvasi, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 61; November 25, 2002, Max Boot, "Cook's Tours," p. 48.
New York Times Book Review, February 17, 1991, p. 6; April 5, 1998, Roy Blount, Jr., review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 7.
Public Historian, spring, 2000, Bruce J. Noble, Jr., review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 77.
Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1988, p. 69; March 1, 1999, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 32; July 1, 2002, review of Blue Latitudes, p. 48.
Wall Street Journal, October 2, 2002, David M. Shribman, review of Blue Latitudes, p. D12.
Washington Post Book World, March 3, 1991, pp. 4-5.
Wilson Quarterly, spring, 1998, Amy E. Schwartz, review of Confederates in the Attic, p. 108.
Powells,http://www.powells.com/ (October 11, 2002), interview with Horwitz.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/ (October 6, 2002), interview with Horwitz.*