National Geographic Traveler Contributing Editor and author Carl Hoffman is on a mission to complete a book about the mysterious disappearance and assumed death of Michael Rockefeller, son of Nelson Rockefeller, along the coast of southwest New Guinea in 1961. Reports say he drowned at sea. But rumors persist that he was kidnapped and held hostage or that he willingly, according to Hoffman, “abandoned the modern world and live in the jungle.” Another theory has him eaten by the local Asmat.
The book is not National Geographic Traveler related. Hoffman is purely under contract with William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins.
But Hoffman insists he can’t complete the book, THE LAST WARRIORS OF THE SPIRIT WORLD: Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Journey in the Land of the Asmat, without securing funds to head back overseas to conduct further investigations. So he’s asking for your help. In the form of donations as low as $10. At the moment he has 63 backers who have pledged $6, 390 of his $23,500 goal. He has eight days to go. “There are layers here — mystical, brutal, enlightening — that need to be explored,” he writes in a story about his project. “And I can only do that by going back. And diving deeper into the world of the sacred. …The costs are overwhelming me. To be in Asmat I need a guide, a translator, a boat, fuel – gas alone costs $10 a gallon there.”
So far, donations have come from friends, acquaintances, strangers and people who loved his last book, The Lunatic Express, and had written him letters. “I received $250 from a soldier in Afghanistan who’d read and loved Lunatic while he was there, and wrote me a note after reading,” he told FishbowlDC, noting that the money is “finishing money” to get him back to Papua for two months to keep paying his researcher and translator in Europe, as much of the information is from Dutch archives.
Why not ask the Rockefellers? “The Rockefeller’s want nothing to do with this project,” he explained by email. “They publicly maintain that Michael was lost at sea and have no interest in deviating from that; I offered to show Michael’s twin sister, Mary, my research, but she never responded. And I’ve worked some other channels and gotten nowhere.”
Lastly, Hoffman is offering potential donors a way to see up close what he’s doing. “By the way, for the really well heeled Washingtonian who has everything, I’m offering a personally escorted trip to Asmat, one of the remotest places in the world,” he wrote. “Priceless and unforgettable.” The catch? The contributor has to cough up 10k, the maximum donation and pay his or her own expenses.
Could be the trip of a lifetime.
Make a pledge here.