Cathryn J. Prince

Author, Journalist

Books

American Daredevil: The Extraordinary Life of Richard Halliburton, the World's First Celebrity Travel Writer
With a polished walking stick and neatly pressed trousers, Richard Halliburton served as an intrepid globetrotting guide for millions of Americans in the 1920s and ’30s. Readers waited with bated breath for each new article and book he wrote. During his career, Halliburton climbed the Matterhorn, nearly fell out of his plane while shooting the first aerial photographs of Mt. Everest, and became the first person to swim the Panama Canal. With his matinee idol looks, the Tennessee native was a media darling in an era of optimism and increased social openness. But as the Great Depression and looming war pushed America toward social conservatism, Halliburton more actively worked to hide his homosexuality, burnishing his image as a masculine trailblazer. As chronicled in American Daredevil, Halliburton harnessed the media of his day to gain and maintain a widespread following long before our age of the 24-hour news cycle, and thus became the first celebrity adventure journalist. And during the darkest hours of the Great Depression, Halliburton did something remarkable: he inspired generations of authors, journalists, and everyday people who dreamt of fame and glory to explore the world.

REVIEWS
"Separating the escapades from the exaggerations in the life of one of the best adventurers of his age...A rollicking tale of the incredible saga of a man constantly searching for the next exploit and sharing them in his writings." –Kirkus Reviews

“Cathryn Prince has written a compelling, well researched account of an inspiring and largely overlooked life, a man who traversed the globe and wrote about all he saw with romance and flair. A sweet look back at a more innocent time, when the world called out to curious young men like Richard Halliburton.” —Neal Thompson, author of A Curious Man: The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley

“Between the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, the writer-adventurer Richard Halliburton taught America to love the world without revealing his own heart. Prince’s sensitive and unstinting portrait bottles his lightning and captures his tragedy.”
—Christopher Heaney, author of Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu

Death in the Baltic: The WWII Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff
Winner of the 2013 Military Writers Society of America Founder's Award

The worst maritime disaster ever occurred during World War II.

January 1945: The outcome of World War II has been determined. The Third Reich is in free fall as the Russians close in from the east. Berlin plans an eleventh-hour exodus for the German civilians trapped in the Red Army’s way. More than 10,000 women, children, sick, and elderly pack aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a former cruise ship. Soon after the ship leaves port and the passengers sigh in relief, three Soviet torpedoes strike it, inflicting catastrophic damage and throwing passengers into the frozen waters of the Baltic.

More than 9,400 perished in the night—six times the number lost on the Titanic. Yet as the Cold War started no one wanted to acknowledge the sinking. Drawing on interviews with survivors, as well as the letters and diaries of those who perished, award-wining author Cathryn Prince reconstructs this forgotten moment in history. She weaves these personal narratives into a broader story, finally giving this WWII tragedy its rightful remembrance.

REVIEWS
“In describing the experiences of survivors, whom she has been adept in tracing, the journalist Cathryn Prince gives voices to ‘ordinary people who suffered during extraordinary times' -- and does so with scrupulous empathy.” The Spectator

“The story of the worst maritime disaster in history…Prince has scoured the planet for survivors, treating their harrowing stories with gentle empathy, from the first sickening bolts of the torpedoes to the chaos and terror of the ship's swift sinking as passengers fell into the freezing water, clambered for lifeboats and watched loved ones disappear in the tumult… An engaging study of a shocking tragedy.” Kirkus Reviews

“Death in the Baltic is the engrossing story of a tragedy that should never have been forgotten. With the grace of a writer who truly feels the loss of thousands in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea, Cathryn J. Prince has preserved their memory and improved our sense of history.” Gregory A. Freeman, author of The Forgotten 500

256 pages (illustrations) * ISBN-13: 978-0230341562 * Hardcover $26

A Professor, a President and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science.
Winner of the 2011 Connecticut Press Club Book Award for Nonfiction

When a fiery meteor crash in 1807 lit up the dark early-morning sky in Weston, Connecticut, it did more than startle the few farmers in the sleepy village. More importantly, it sparked the curiosity of Benjamin Silliman, a young chemistry professor at nearby Yale College. His rigorous investigation of the incident started a chain of events that eventually brought the once low standing of American science to sudden international prominence. And, by coincidence, the event also embroiled Silliman in politics, pitting him against no less an adversary than President Thomas Jefferson.

Based on a wealth of original source documents and interiews with current experts in history, astronomy, and geology, journalist Cathryn J. Prince tells the remarkable story of Benjamin Silliman, arguably America’s first bonafide scientist. In a lively narrative rich with fascinating historical detail, Prince documents the primitive state of American science at the time; Silliman’s careful analysis of the meteor samples; and the publication of his conclusions, which contradicted both popular superstitions regarding meteors as ominous portents and a common belief that meteors came from volcanic eruptions on the moon.

She also describes Silliman’s struggles to build a chemistry department at Yale with rudimentary material; new insights into geology that resulted from his analysis of the meteor; and his report to the prestigious French Academy, which raised the prestige of American science. Finally, she discusses the political turbulence of the time, which Silliman could not escape, and how the meteor event was used to drive a wedge between New England and Jefferson.

REVIEWS
"[A] tour-de-force look at early American science."
– Booklist

"A captivating tale of America's entry into the world of science, told with such graceful prose and fascinating detail that at times you feel you are there."
– Richard Z. Chesnoff, The Huffington Post

300 pages (illustrations) • ISBN 978-1-61614-224-7 • Hardcover: $26

Burn the Town & Sack the Banks: Confederates Attack Vermont!
On a dreary October afternoon, bands of Confederate raiders held up the three banks in St. Albans. With guns drawn, they herded the townspeople out into the common, sending the people of the North into panic. Operating out of a Confederate stronghold in Canada, the raiders were young men, mostly escapees from Union prison camps, who had been recruited to inaugurate a new kind of guerilla war along the Yankees’ unprotected border. The raid, though bungling at times, was successful — the consequent pursuit of the rebels into Canada.

The celebrity-like trial it sparked in Montreal and resulting diplomatic tensions that arose between the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain, left the Southern dream of a second-front diversion in ruins. What survived, however, is a fascinating tale of the South’s desperate attempt to reverse the course of the war. Burn the Town and Sack the Banks is a tale filled with dashing soldiers, spies, posses, bumbling plans, smitten locals, lawyers, diplomats, and an idyllic Vermont town, set against the backdrop of the great battles far from the Northern border that were bringing the Civil War to its bloody conclusion.

320 pages • ISBN 978-0786717514 • Hardcover: $26.95

Shot From the Sky: American POWs in Switzerland
This book is about one of the great, dark secrets of World War II: neutral Switzerland shot down U.S. aircraft entering Swiss airspace and imprisoned the survivors in internment camps, detaining more than one thousand American flyers between 1943 and the war’s end. While conditions at the camps were adequate and humane for internees who obeyed their captors’ orders, the experience was very different for those who attempted to escape. They were held in special penitentiary camps in conditions as bad as those in some prisoner-of-war camps in Nazi Germany. Ironically, the Geneva Accords at the time did not apply to prisoners held in neutral countries, so better treatment could not be demanded. When the war ended in Europe, sixty-one Americans lay buried in a small village cemetery near Bern.

Details of this little-known episode are brought to light for the first time by Cathryn Prince, who tells what happened and examines the argument that the Swiss used to justify their policy. She shows that while the Swiss claimed it satisfied international law, they applied the law in a grossly unfair manner. No German airmen were interned, and Nazi aircraft were allowed to land unharmed at Swiss airfields to refuel. The author draws on first-person accounts and unpublished sources, including interviews with eyewitnesses and surviving American prisoners, and documents held by the Swiss government and the U.S. Air Force. Although these events have been briefly alluded to in other books, this work is the first to present the story in full.

REVIEWS
"Ms. Prince's study ... is proof that atrocities will happen whenever one individual is given unchecked power over another." ―Wall Street Journal

“This book eloquently addresses a little known aspect of WW II.”―Choice