by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1926. 8vo. xx+425 pp. Illustrated. $6.00.. New York:
IF that man William Beebe does not stop writing books, his reviewers are liable to run out of adjectives. They have already dredged the dictionary for Jungle Peace, Galapagos, and Jungle Days, and now comes The Arcturus Adventure.
Mr. Beebe’s jeweled prose takes a lot of describing. and his subject matter is responsible for the balance of said adjectives. Every page of this new book gleams with references to the greatest line of experiences that any man has had since the days of Ulysses.
Here are a few set down at random from memory: the sensation of being stuck in a halfblocked tunnel in the centre of the pyramid of Cheops; how shrapnel looks when it blossoms white against a blue sky; how it feels to grip a bush master, to enter a cloud in an aeroplane, to land on a pirate island, or to attend at the birth of a volcano. He mentions casually how a cormorant looks from below when pursuing a scarlet sea bass and how it feels to meet a ten-foot shark, an eight-hundred-pound turtle, or a seven-foot sea lion five fathoms under water.
The last time I saw him was at the annual dinner of the Ends of the Earth Club. He looked helpless and depressed, but that was because of an undelivered speech which was even then gnawing at his vitals. Ordinarily he is as cheerful as a sunrise. 1 had just time to tell him that it he ate too much he might get stuck again in a pyramid, and he had just time to tell me that he had just succeeded, with the aid of a kite, in exploring certain inaccessible trees, which we had discussed before, when the toastmaster began.
Since then I have read The Arcturus Adventure. It has only one limitation, a limitation which I have always found in all of Mr. Beebe’s writing — his preference for small, restricted things, such as ‘Four Square Feet of Jungle’ and ‘Birds of a Single Tree.’
However, even with this limitation, if such it be, the book is full of treasure.
A long life has thirty-six million, seven hundred and ninety thousand minutes in it — most of them forgotten. William Beebe has crowded more remembered minutes into his life than any scientist now living. If you don’t believe me, read The Arcturus Adventure.
SAMUEL SCOVILLE, JR.