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Nobody Said Not to Go: The Life, Loves, and Adventures of Emily Hahn Paperback – October, 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A globe-trotting New Yorker writer for 68 years?almost until her death last year at age 92?Emily Hahn notoriously chose the "uncertain path," and Cuthbertson does her adventures justice as long as the momentum holds. The first third presents the clearest picture of Hahn, without exotic trappings: Flouting convention early, Hahn graduated from the University of Wisconsin as a mining engineer, just to prove that a woman could. Through the 1920s she fledged as a writer and traveler, mingling with, but never quite joining, the smart set. Then in 1929, the New Yorker's editor and founder Harold Ross, took her on, saying, "You have a great talent.... You can be cattier than anyone I know." In 1930, she traveled alone to Penge, a remote backwater in the Congo, where her host, an American pal, turned into a kind of Mr. Kurtz, provided grist for a memoir, Congo Sale, and a novel, With Naked Foot. Hahn's exploits crested with her stay in Shanghai and Hong Kong from 1935 through 1943. Her life makes for heady cinematic stuff: her social gadding; affair with Chinese poet Sinmay Zau; opium addiction; child with and eventual marriage to Hong Kong's head of British intelligence, Charles Boxer (all set against the battle for Shanghai and the fall of Hong Kong). Unhappily, Cuthbertson begins to fall for his own melodrama ("Was that a glistening in his eyes, or was it a trick of the light?"), and the postwar pages become a tame resume of domestic arrangements and literary outpouring.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

By all accounts, Emily Hahn (1905^-97) should be a household name. A trailblazer, she routinely defied convention and chronicled her singular experiences in hundreds of articles for the New Yorker and in more than 50 books. Cuthbertson, who met Hahn while working on his biography of John Gunther, speculates that she was just too controversial, versatile, and complicated for fame then, but not now. He adroitly brings her back into the limelight by detailing her achievements--she was the first woman at her university to earn a degree in mining engineering, she drove cross-country during the risky 1920s, then lived by her wits in colonial Africa and war-torn China, mining not the earth but her involvements with other cultures, men, and every conceivable form of entertainment, work, and danger. The events that Hahn witnessed were world-changing, and her blazing candor about war, race, sex, and feminism was courageous; but she was too hot to handle, and even though she wrote for the New Yorker well into her eighties, she dropped from sight. Thanks to Cuthbertson, Hahn has an encore in front of an audience hungry for just her kind of story. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (October 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571199658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571199655
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David A. Wend on October 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
I knew nothing about Emily Hahn and I picked this book up being intrigued by a synopsis. It is a very well written book about an extraordinary life. Emily (Mickey) Hahn broke every convention of her time: a woman who studied mining engineering in collage, a lone white woman in Africa in the early 1930's, a single woman in China, an American "married" to a Chinese as his concubine and a journalist caught in the Japanese invasion of that country. Hopefully, I have said enough to tickle the interest of would-be readers since I don't want to give away any more.
This is a life story that reads like a novel. Why the Chinese portion of this book has not been made into a movie is a surprise to me. There is a cinematic quality of Ms. Hahn's life in China (which she wrote about herself) that cries out for filming. Ken Cuthbertson tells the story of this life without judgement calls does not clutter his book with useless facts. The book is illustrated with photographs spread throughout the chapters where they are needed. I could not recommend this book more highly.
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By A Customer on July 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I picked up a copy of this book because the cover looked so interesting. The cover matched the contents of the book. Emily Hahn was a writer for the New Yorker magazine, but she also wrote more than 50 books. When she was not writing, she was an adventurer, a traveler, an opium addict, and a whole lot of other things. Wow, what a life she led! Emily Hahn did the kind of wild things that most women of her day (she was born in 1905 and died in 1997) only dreamed of and that very few dared to write about. The author has done an excellent job of telling Hahn's story. I enjoyed Nobody Said Not to Go. It's a well written, quick paced story about an amazing woman.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it is a feat in itself to succeed in making the profoundly fascinating and radically modern life of Emily Hahn into such a superficial and fundamentally boring book. part of the trick is treating the readers like toddlers with 30-second attention spans, small vocabularies and no knowledge of nor interest in the (wink, nudge) birds & bees. the author feels, perhaps, that if he rips along at breakneck pace, peppering his paragraphs with sticky phrases like "as the tears coursed down her face," readers will fail to notice paucity of detail and absence of historical background. (yes, the bombs are dropping but what were the Japanese actually doing in China? how long had they been there, what was their intent and their policy? Mao Zedong allegedly drops by the flat once or twice but of what exactly Mao was up to not a word.) not to mention utter lack of emotional, let alone sexual, coverage of the many love affairs Hahn energetically conducted much in defiance of social/sexual/racial mores of her day. of her long personal & professional partnership with a progressive Chinese poet in China we get very little more than ocassional (wink, nudge) opium parties. of her euthanizing her own father with an overdose of morphine we get nothing at all!! "i did it, i killed Daddy" Hahn is quoted as saying; then whizzbang, new paragraph and on we go to something else entirely! was there an autopsy? who signed the death certificate? did she have any, erm, ahem, Feelings about killing her own father? excuse me? am i missing something? is my idea of the meaning of the word "biography" somehow skewed?
towards the end i just gave up and ordered the prolific Hahn's own memoir China To Me, which is a wonderful read. go straight to the source, friends, and ignore this shallow skim by someone with no discernible respect for either his subject or his audience.
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Format: Hardcover
"A forgotten American literary treasure." That's what one of Emily Hahn's young admirers called her. Hahn's friend and one-time mentor once told her, "If you and I had been born male and had written what we've written, we'd be a lot better known."
Hahn, who wrote for the New Yorker magazine for an astounding 68 years, died in February 1997 at age 92. She left a rich literary legacy that includes 52 books and hundreds of articles, short stories, and poems. In the course of her lifetime, she was many things: a mining geologist, a horseback trail guide, a greeting card writer, a receptionist, a medical aide worker, a reporter, and a teacher, to name just a few of her many occupations.
Hahn lived with African pygmies. She was the concubine of a Chinese poet. She and a girlfriend disguisged themselves as men when they drove solo across the U.S. in 1924, before it was safe--or prudent--for any young woman to do so. Hahn had an affair with, and a child by, the married head of British intelligence in Hong Kong just prior to the 1941 Japanese attack on that British colony. She was an opium addict. She once tried to kill herself. She smoked cigars, enjoyed strong drink, and she knew everyone who was anyone in the glittery New York literary world during the period 1940-1990. Emily Hahn fervently believed a woman could do anything a man could do. And she did it long before the word "feminism" was even coined. Emily Hahn led an amazing, uninhibited, and totally fascinating life. In this, the first biography of Emily Hahn, Canadian journalist Ken Cuthbertson explores the life, loves, and adventures of the woman known to her friends simply as "Mickey." In the words of an Entertainment Weekly reviewer (June 19, 1998), this is "a rip-roaring bio with surprise turns."
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