Author(s): Gordon Bass
In 1948, the Australian Ben Carlin set out from New York City with an audacious, lunatic plan to circumnavigate the world by amphibious jeep. Fuelled by cigarettes and adrenaline, he forged eastwards through fierce Atlantic hurricanes; across scorching, uncharted North African desert; into dense South-East Asian jungle and over the dark swells of the North Pacific. It was a 50,000-mile roll of the dice that by all rights should have killed him. Ben's journey was supposed to take a year. Instead, it took ten. As the years passed, co-pilots abandoned him, the media found other stories, the world moved on. But Ben kept going, testing the extreme limits of resolve and reason in the claustrophobic confines of his battered jeep Half-Safe. When he finally pulled into Times Square in June 1958, he found himself alone and forgotten, leaving a wake of women and empty whiskey bottles behind him. But what do we make of this man so at odds with society but at one with his machine? Was it all a fool's errand? Or a pure manifestation of spirit? Where does a dream end and an obsession begin? What's an acceptable cost to pay, and what lengths will a person go not to be left with the haunting question- what if? The Last Great Australian Adventurer is the compelling account of Ben Carlin's attempt to make an enduring mark on the world, at a time when the Golden Age of Adventure was coming to an end.
Gordon Bass grew up in Texas but spent his childhood summers on excavations led by his father, George F. Bass, called the 'Indiana Jones of underwater archaeology' by TIME magazine. Living on remote parts of the Turkish Mediterranean coast sparked an early fascination with the intersection of adventure, history and technology. Gordon later discovered that his father's career had been influenced by meeting an extraordinary Australian adventurer named Ben Carlin when he was just 14 years old. But who was Ben Carlin? In his first book, Gordon sets out to learn more about the Perth native who in 1948 embarked on an audacious attempt to circle the world in a surplus amphibious army jeep. Carlin achieved brief fame in the 1950s but was forgotten by the world long before his journey was over. Why did Ben vanish from the public eye? What happened next? And what was his connection to Gordon's family? For the past 20 years Gordon has worked as a writer, editor and creative director for magazines, media brands and companies ranging from Maxim, Men's Journal and Wired to Amazon and Time Inc. In 2013 he optioned a scripted television series to AMC, home to Mad Men and Breaking Bad. In addition to his work as a writer and editor, Gordon is an executive producer of the 2016 record Dirty Wonder by singer-songwriter K Phillips, who has toured in support of Counting Crows and Rob Thomas. Gordon has served as a director and communications chair of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, which his father founded in 1975. Along the way he has also bartended in Japan and taught English in Turkey. He lives outside New York City with children's book author Jennifer Vogel Bass and their two boys.