A Curious Man

The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley
eAudio - unabridged
Audio (11.93 hours)
Product Number: Z100031087
Released: May 07, 2013
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9780385366380
Narrator/s: Marc Cashman
Publisher: Books on Tape
Please log in to view pricing


A Curious Man is the marvelously compelling biography of Robert "Believe It or Not" Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned globetrotting millionaire who won international fame by celebrating the world's strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to believe in the unbelievable. As portrayed by acclaimed biographer Neal Thompson, Ripley's life is the stuff of a classic American fairy tale. Buck-toothed and cursed by shyness, Ripley turned his sense of being an outsider into an appreciation for the strangeness of the world. After selling his first cartoon to Time magazine at age eighteen, more cartooning triumphs followed, but it was his "Believe It or Not" conceit and the wildly popular radio shows it birthed that would make him one of the most successful entertainment figures of his time and spur him to search the globe's farthest corners for bizarre facts, exotic human curiosities, and shocking phenomena. Ripley delighted in making outrageous declarations that somehow always turned out to be true-such as that Charles Lindbergh was only the sixty-seventh man to fly across the Atlantic or that "The Star Spangled Banner" was not the national anthem. Assisted by an exotic harem of female admirers and by ex-banker Norbert Pearlroth, a devoted researcher who spoke eleven languages, Ripley simultaneously embodied the spirit of Peter Pan, the fearlessness of Marco Polo and the marketing savvy of P. T. Barnum. In a very real sense, Ripley sought to remake the world's aesthetic. He demanded respect for those who were labeled "eccentrics" or "freaks"-whether it be E. L. Blystone, who wrote 1,615 alphabet letters on a grain of rice, or the man who could swallow his own nose. By the 1930s Ripley possessed a vast fortune, a private yacht, and a twenty-eight room mansion stocked with such "oddities" as shrunken heads and medieval torture devices, and his pioneering firsts in print, radio, and television were tapping into something deep in the American consciousness-a taste for the titillating and exotic, and a fascination with the fastest, biggest, dumbest and most weird. Today, that legacy continues and can be seen in reality TV, YouTube, America's Funniest Home Videos, Jackass, MythBusters and a host of other pop-culture phenomena. In the end Robert L. Ripley changed everything. The supreme irony of his life, which was dedicated to exalting the strange and unusual, is that he may have been the most amazing oddity of all.

Author(s): Neal Thompson
Original Publish Date: May 07, 2013

All formats/editions

Author(s): Neal Thompson
Product Number EB00152480
Released: Dec 27, 2013
Business Term: 2 Year
Publisher: Crown Archetype
ISBN: #9780770436216

Professional reviews

"Neal Thompson's story of the life of cartoonist Robert L. Ripley starts with a tour of Iraq, where Ripley searched for the Garden of Eden. There's a certain matter-of-fact quality to Ripley's notes of this trip. Still, narrator Mark Cashman uses them well to set the scene and show listeners a glimpse of Ripley's character. Cashman then engages the listener with a tour of Santa Rosa, California, Ripley's hometown, making it a landscape of oddity. What makes the audiobook stand out, though, is the character of Ripley himself--a world traveler with an eye for the ladies. Fans of "Believe It or Not" will certainly enjoy meeting him. J.A.S. (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine"

Sign up for our email newsletter