Fire Bone!

"A charming memoir on life as lived by a veteran travel writer... He recalls with verve and great humor his life in perpetual movement." -- The Chicago Tribune.

"Bone's book is a rare bird. Here's an author who's had the full range of angst abroad and on the road in the U.S., but who's not afraid to show himself as a deeply regular guy with suitcase in hand. This is just the sort of life-between-covers I like." -- The Huffington Post.

In 1968, future "gonzo journalist" Hunter S. Thompson predicted Bob Bone would write a book someday "on How to Beat the NY Big  Salary-Death-in-Life Syndrome."

This at last, is that book.

Robert W. Bone has visited every continent and covered at least 75 countries. For four decades, thousands of travelers to Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand carried the latest editions of his prize-winning Maverick Guides or read his groundbreaking work on the "last frontier," Fieldings Alaska and the Yukon.

He wrote travel articles for magazines, and using his personal syndication system, hundreds more for the travel sections of newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Thompson joined him on some of his early adventures in the U.S. an abroad, admiring Bone's ability to live the kind of life that office drones dream of.

Put the formula down on paper, Thompson wrote him: "Shit, you'd sell 50,000 copies in NY alone."

Fire Bone! is an unvarnished memoir of thrilling experiences with newspapers, magazines, and book publishers, and the childhood and youthful love afairs that led up to them.

Bone hs been shot at and robbed. He's battled American and foreign bureaucrats. But as his grandmother predicted, everything he did "would always come out for the best."

He's climbed to the top of a mast of a ship at sea, and planted a revolutionary flag at a world's fair. And he's never been fired from a job. Fire Bone! explains all that, too.

It's available now at a discount on Amazon Books.

                           Read more about this book.

First published photo: Texaco Station owner, Bowling Green, Ohio. Printed in the Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio, June, 1947.

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About the Author

“Bob Bone is both widely traveled and keenly observant, someone who knew the Hawaiian islands when they were unspoiled, and was a friend to Hunter Thompson on the Proud Highway when he was maniacal - in short, a reliable witness.”
— Paul Theroux, premier travel writer and novelist, author of The Great Railway Bazaar

“Bob Bone was one hell of a reporter-photographer when we worked together so long ago on the (San Juan) Star. Now he's summing up his life and he's got a mountain of great stuff to sum up. Arriba! Roberto.”
— William J. Kennedy, author of Ironweed and other books

“During my 19 years as travel editor of the St. Petersburg Times, I was fortunate to have a go-to guy if I needed readable, authoritative, articles on Hawaii and the Pacific: Bob Bone. And I feel certain that all of my editing colleagues also recognized that byline as the specialist on the islands. Bob earned our respect, even our appreciation, with his fine writing.”
— Robert N. Jenkins

“Bob Bone has been a truly professional travel author virtually for time immemorial. During my time as travel editor of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1982-1994, he was a highly reliable source of lively and accurate stories from around the world.”   
— Jack Schnedler, retired, a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year laureate

“Bob's insightful and sensitive approach to travel writing during his lifetime comes across in this bio that covers some of America's more fascinating sociological and technological changes.”
— Jeff Miller, author and former editor, Encompass magazine

“Robert W. Bone was a frank and diligent source when I was researching my biography of Hunter S.Thompson. Bob’s long career turns out to be as varied, adventurous and fascinating as his friend’s.”
— E. Jean Carroll, author, relationship expert, and advice columnist for Elle and other publications

“Bob Bone played a vital role in the golden age of newspaper-section travel journalism. His memoir recreates for us those heady times.”
— Lee Foster, author of Northern California Travel as well as many other books, and a recipient of eight SATW Lowell Thomas Awards

“While surfing the media I usually look for three clues to the readability of a story: the publication, the writer’s byline and the headline. I’ve learned over the years that when I spot Bob Bone’s byline, it’s a safe bet the story is worth reading. I need mull my interest no further.”
— Bob Schulman, Travel Editor,

“There is definitely something wrong with Bob Bone. Here's a guy living in Hawaii, and he wants to—loves to—travel to places where they sometimes actually have to wear jackets, if not snow suits. It was my pleasure in 16 years as travel editor at the Chicago Tribune to read and run his delightfully skewered stories on places where the weather might not have been perfect but the experiences through his eyes and words were perfectly wonderful.”
— Randy Curwen

“While some journey for relaxation, Bob Bone has always had something else in mind: sharing the joy of travel with others and ing them find their own adventures, discovering new horizons in unlikely places.”
— Larry Bleiberg, retired travel editor of the
Dallas Morning News


The following is from the text of Fire Bone!

LIKE ANY WRITER WITH A LONG CAREER, I’ve come across some of the world’s more interesting characters. A few became good friends.

   Perhaps the most fascinating was Hunter, who first appeared to me as an eccentric fellow reporter on the Middletown (N.Y.) Daily Record in 1958. This was Hunter S. Thompson, destined to become widely known as the inventor of the “gonzo” personal approach to literature and journalism.

   For better or for worse, Hunter eventually became an inspiration to scores of younger writers, some of whom are still attempting to copy his techniques.

   Hunter killed himself in 2005. His outdoor Colorado funeral was built to his personal instructions. It was a spectacular affair, enveloped in noise, fire and smoke. It included a contingent of his Hollywood buddies along with other hangers-on attracted to greatness. I was invited, but didn’t go. Hunter wouldn’t be there.

   Our close association formed when we were equally unknown to the world at large. In the 1950s and ’60s Hunter and I shared adventures in New York, Puerto Rico, and Brazil.

Below: Sandy Conklin, 1963 

  For a time I was in love with Sandra Conklin, who later became Hunter’s first wife. In late 1961 and early 1962, Sandy and I lived together in Greenwich Village. Hunter was in Louisville, preparing to begin his travels in South America on meager funds, gathering material for his literary objectives.

   There would be no place for a gentle soul like Sandy on his precarious trip. And on the second floor rear left flat at 107 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village, I was acutely aware that Sandy was definitely “Hunter’s girl.”

   I was 30 and a junior editor at Popular Photography magazine, and I happily returned each evening to the three-room apartment, usually to find a waiting meal and pleasant conversation. It was a safe address, located across the street from the mother of a local underworld figure. The goodfellas, playing bocce or hanging out on the corner, enforced peace and quiet when needed.

   There Sandy and I made beer and enjoyed each other’s company without the aid of sex or television. She slept in my bedroom; I slept in the living room; the sound of bubbling beer continued day and night in a large jug atop the refrigerator in the kitchen between us. That’s all there was, but it was enough.

   Except for once. On our last night together she came into the living room without a word and laid down beside me. We went to sleep with my arm wrapped around her.

   Each five-gallon batch of our home brew was known as a “baby,” and we kept detailed records of the process. We got as far as “Baby Five,” I think, before my love was spirited away.

(c) Robert W. Bone, 2014