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The Royal Road to Romance by Richard…

The Royal Road to Romance (1925)

by Richard Halliburton

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This book was written by an American adventurer who lived between 1900 and 1939; his books and lectures were very popular in the 20s and 30s. He was from a well-off family and graduated from Princeton, but then turned his back on the dull life of a businessman which awaited him and, together with a former roommate, decided to trot the world making money along the way. They lied that they were experienced sailors to get jobs on a ship bound for Europe, explored The Netherlands and Germany on bicycles, and climbed the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. It was already September and past season, but they told the guides that they had climbed all sorts of dangerous mountains in America (although the author says they had never climbed anything higher than a flight of steps), and the guides agreed to take them. Halliburton would have died twice if his guide hadn't saved him. Then they got to France where they replenished their finances by giving dancing lessons and explored Paris in the company of a local cabaret dancer whom they had befriended. Afterwards the author's friend left for Italy which was his lifelong dream, and Halliburton went to explore French castles and then over the Pyrenees to Andorra and Spain. It was December then, and the mule-lending agency didn't want to give him an animal, but after he told them that he had worked as an Alpine guide and was a veterinarian into the bargain, they changed their minds. He lost his way completely on the high pass, but luckily for him the mule who had traveled back and forth all the time knew the road by instinct and led him to Andorra – a tiny country between France and Spain, which had about 5,000 inhabitants then. He asked the innkeeper who could give him some information about the country and was advised to see its president. The President answered his knock, invited him into his house, offered him a pair of slippers and a place by the fireside, and asked him how he could help him. He gladly spent the evening talking about his country. The author went on on his adventurers, sleeping on top the Cheops Pyramid, hiking through the Himalayas, spending another memorable night in the Taj Mahal, exploring the temples of Angkor, surviving a pirate attack in the South China Sea, etc. It’s a fascinating book. Its only flaw is that, being an upper-class American of his time, he does at times project the prejudices and attitudes of his class and era, even when traveling as a stowaway, in a way that is sometimes hard to read today. Then again, one can apply the same historical perspective to his view of the world as one does to his descriptions of it and find it an interesting illustration of a well-educated and curious rich western young man of the 1920s with all his contradictions. ( )
  Ella_Jill | Feb 28, 2009 |
This is a great story from an American who graduates from Princeton and spends the next couple years traveling around the world, supporting himself (poorly) with ingenuity and royalties from magazine and newspaper articles. It is well illustrated with photographs.

He climbs the Matterhorn and Mt Fuji. He goes to the Taj Mahal and into Kashmir. He crosses the Malaysian jungle. Egypt, Paris, Andorra, Angkor Wat, Bali, Gibraltor, Siberia -- he chooses his destinations based on "romance" and his routes to avoid tourists. He has many encounters with authorities because of his destinations and his lack of money, but perseveres (and takes advantage of his Princeton connections). It is a great adventure story. ( )
1 vote breic2 | Feb 7, 2007 |
I remember a teacher reading this book to us in 6th grade and loving the adventure. As an adult I found Halliburton a little to snobbish, and too much of a moocher. I thought he disrespected other cultures. He writes well and tells a good story. ( )
  lnlamb |
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To Irvine Oty Hockaday, john Henry Leh, Edward Lawrence Keyes, James Penfield Seiberling, Whose sanity, consistency and respectability as Princeton roommates drove me to this book.
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May had come at last to Princeton.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0837124123, Hardcover)

When Richard Halliburton graduated from college, he chose adventure over a career, traveling the world with almost no money. The Royal Road to Romance chronicles what happened as a result, from a breakthrough Matterhorn ascent to being jailed for taking forbidden pictures on Gibraltar. "One of the most fascinating books of its kind ever written." - Detroit News

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:04 -0400)

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