In 1961, Michael Rockefeller, the 23-year-old son of then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, disappeared along the coast of southwest New Guinea.
The recent Harvard grad was on a trip collecting art from Asmat tribes—mostly elaborate woodcarvings—when his catamaran capsized. After he and a companion waited overnight for rescue, Rockefeller tied two empty gasoline cans around his waist, and headed for shore, never to be seen again.
The official records state that he was drowned at sea, but author Carl Hoffman has been possessed by the mystery for years, and in his new book Savage Harvest, he aims to settle the question of Rockefeller's fate. Through visiting the same village, interviewing Asmat kinsmen, studying the tense political climate of the time and combing through archives of official documents along with Rockefeller's personal correspondence, Hoffman comes to the grim conclusion that he was cannibalized. Whether Hoffman's evidence is substantial enough is for the reader to decide, but it is a tense and riveting read nonetheless.
Watch Hoffman narrate the documentary-style trailer below:
What do you think, readers? Are you interested in new insight into this historical mystery?
Looking to gift a great photography book this holiday season? Lonely Planet's Beautiful World, with over 200 large-format images, captures jaw-dropping sights and destinations from all corners of the globe. Spark your spirit of adventure with photos from the lush prairie of Nebraska to the remote Galápagos; this book will have you planning your next getaway in no time. The Lonely Planet editors are no strangers to the wonders of the world, but as they said, "we don’t see them every day and sometimes we need to be reminded that they are there.” Watch the gorgeous trailer below and prepare to be swept away with wanderlust.
Linda Leaming's memoir Married to Bhutan, published today by Hay House, is a story about following your dreams and finding true happiness. In Leaming's case, that journey led her to the remote mountain kingdom of Bhutan. In a guest post, Leaming writes about what Bhutan is doing right, and the magnificent creatures who call the country home.
Living in a magical mountain kingdom
guest post by Linda Leaming
So many of us educated, plugged-in Americans are trying to be socially responsible and responsive. So we immerse ourselves daily in news of wars, natural disasters, and celebrity recidivism—it’s an endless stream on our Twitter, Facebook, and TV. It’s the way of the world. But every once in a while I have to switch off. I have to have some good news. And it has to be more than a cuddly kitten video on YouTube, although I do love those.
I live for part of the year in, and write about, a small corner of the world that isn’t particularly tragic or mired in problems. Bhutan is a happy, magical little place whose king would rather have Gross National Happiness than Gross National Product for his people. It's 200 miles from east to west and 100 miles from north to south, deep in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, a dot on the map. Yet it has every known climate zone, from snow-covered glaciers in the north to rainforests in the south, and hundreds, maybe thousands of endangered species of plants and animals.
The Bhutanese people do a lot of things right. They’re Buddhist and they’re not mad at anybody. They live close to the earth and they eat seasonally. They honor their traditions. They are aware that they have something very special, and as the world encroaches, they try to keep a balance between modern and traditional. They take their time, and they believe if it doesn’t get done in this life, then they can do it in the next. The Bhutanese environmental policy is the envy of the world; they are good stewards of the earth, and they’ve made a law that says the country must remain sixty percent forest-covered in perpetuity.
Bhutan and the Bhutanese escape the notice of the rest of the world. That’s good for Bhutan, because it can carry on and keep going. But it’s bad for the rest of the world. The world should know a place like Bhutan exists.
Bengal tigers that have historically inhabited the Duar plains of India to the south are shifting their habitats to Bhutan. They’ve never lived above 3,000 feet. But now they’re migrating to escape poachers, crowded preserves, and farmers who use slash-and-burn agriculture on their habitats. There are now fewer than 3,500 of them in the wild. A meditating lama that I know who lives in the mountains in a hermitage about 15 miles from Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, says he’s seen tigers in the forest near his hut. The tigers have found a safe haven in Bhutan.
And so have I. And when the world gets to be too much, I think of the tigers and how Bhutan is buying them some time. I am so grateful and thankful that I have been able to have an association with this marvelous country for so long. I believe with all my heart that not just the tigers, but the rest of the world could use some of what Bhutan has.
[Thanks, Linda! Readers can find out more at MarriedToBhutan.com.]
Got an armchair traveler in the family? Then don't miss LIFE Wonders of the World. Not content to stop at 7 wonders, the LIFE editors have chosen 50 to include in this full-color, coffee table book. As reviewer Linda Castellitto says, "Each wondrous entity—such as the Empire State Building, the Serengeti and the International Space Station, to name a few—gets the full-on LIFE magazine treatment in large, color-drenched photos taken by a variety of talented photographers." (Read Linda's full review here.) The book also includes 8x10 posters of the 7 wonders of the world for readers to hang on their walls.
What are you buying for the book lovers in your life this year?
You can find more great gift ideas in our holiday catalog.
A couple of weeks ago, I set off on a 12-day trip to London and St. Petersburg. Ordinarily, this would mean pretty much carrying my weight in reading material -- who wants to be stuck on a plane with the wrong book? -- but this trip was different. Instead of half a dozen books, I was setting out with only a Kindle. While my shoulder was happy about the lighter carry-on, I couldn't help feeling a bit unprepared.
The verdict? I'm not sure I need to travel with books ever again. While I did end up buying a novel in the London airport (the first few pages of Little Bee got me hooked, and I couldn't use the Kindle's wireless feature overseas), having several books and periodicals at my fingertips was pretty much heaven. Not to mention that the device was a conversation piece -- even the flight attendants were asking about it.
This experience only cemented my opinion that the Kindle is the device that will take ebooks mainstream. The novelty factor, the convenience of having a world of books at your fingertips -- it reminded me of the way I felt the first time I traveled with an iPod. The Kindle isn't perfect: it's expensive, the joystick feels somewhat prehistoric if you're used to devices with a touchscreen, and the wireless network can be slow. And aside from the device itself, there are issues about pricing and DRM that have yet to be worked out (at least publishers can look to the experience of the music and TV industries while working on these). Still, I can't help but feel that ereaders are the best way to make reading relevant for a generation that's grown up with the Internet.
Anyone else ever traveled with a Kindle or another ereader?