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In 1948, a young Australian mining engineer named Ben Carlin set out to do the impossible: circumnavigate the globe, by land and sea, in a single vehicle. The vehicle in question was an amphibious jeep developed by the U.S. Army, which Carlin christened Half-Safe, after a deodorant slogan. It was a mechanical mongrel that was supposed to move with equal ease across land and water but in practice wasn’t much good at either. Undaunted, Carlin and his wife, Elinore, set off across the Atlantic Ocean with dreams of fame and fortune, and of carving a small notch in history. What happened next is one of the most bizarre, remarkable, and forgotten adventure stories of the 20th century. In Half-Safe, author James Nestor endeavors to uncover Ben Carlin’s fate and finds a gripping story of love, danger, and extraordinary perseverance that spans three oceans and five continents. Half-Safe takes us from the eye of an Atlantic Ocean hurricane to the sweltering Sahara to the impenetrable jungles of Southeast Asia—and into the mind of a man who could overcome everything but his own demons.

December 2012

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The Atavist Magazine

The Atavist Magazine is a digital-only publication devoted to longform narrative journalism. The magazine releases one in-depth feature story each month. It is known for its commitment to the highest quality of reporting and writing, as well as its pioneering online design. In its nine-year history, the magazine has been nominated for several National Magazine Awards, winning in 2014 for feature writing; for two Emmy Awards in news and documentary; for several Livingston Awards, winning in 2019 for national reporting; and for many more accolades.

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