This page includes all of those works which I have been able to trace attributed to William Buehler Seabrook. This should in no way be considered to be a list of his complete works, however, as his articles were found in numerous newspapers and magazines and probably were often even published anonymously. Reader’s Digest articles are only included in this list when they are original articles; condensations of works which appear elsewhere can be found on the Reader’s Digest Bibliography. Whenever possible, the annotations given here are the publishers’ blurbs that accompany the books or articles. My words are only those which appear in square brackets ([, ]).
[Read it online, at Brigham Young University's online library!]
[Edited together from William Seabrook's journal.]
This is to be the diary of Field Section No. 8 of the American Ambulance, sent to the front from Paris in the summer of 1916, and begun this day at Field Headquarters, where we have become a part of the Sixth Army Corps of the Twelfth Division of the Fourth Army. We are quartered nine kilometres behind the front (between five and six miles), and the click of the typewriter is accompanied by the steady booming of distant guns.
January. "Wow." The Smart Set.
[Read it online here!]
[A tale based on Seabrook's experiments with Aleister Crowley to communicate only using a single word, extended to become a parable about the divisive nature of adherence to religious dogma.]
Adventures in Arabia.
The Magic Island. New York: Literary Guild of America.
[Read it online (but poorly edited) in Questia Online Library!]
This book recounts the adventures and emotional experiences of an American author who went to Haiti because, although he had traveled over half the world, he sensed the mystery of this Island of Black Magic.
He found among the millions of blacks who dwell in electric-lighted towns, jungle-covered mountains, dark valleys, an emotional wisdom that we, and perhaps the whole civilized world, have lost. He found a people who know that life itself is a beautiful and terrifying adventure. He found a living religion, Voodoo, wherein is the ritual eating of flesh and drinking of blood, witchcraft, sorcery and black magic; a religion where the image of the Catholic Virgin and the cross stand with a host of gods, the black counterparts of Priapus, Aphrodite, and Bacchus. He found living things that we have long thought dead in the storehouses of anthropological lore. He is the first articulate white witness to its rituals, songs, its sacrifices.
Jungle Ways. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
This first edition, including eight extra illustrations, is limited to 315 signed copies, of which 274 are for sale.
[See 1931 for the publisher's blurb from the dustjacket of the 1931 first trade edition.]
Jungle Ways (first trade edition). New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Seabrook's Book Out of Africa
"Jungle Ways" is an authentic piece of literature. While the scene happens to be Africa, and presents accurate and original accounts of primitive magic and sorcery, it is basically a book about life.
Seabrook went into the Ivory Coast jungle in 1929. He learned the lingo of the natives, and lived as one of them in their villages. Later he traversed 10,000 kilometers, partly by his own motor truck, but also in hammock chairs with native porters, penetrating to Timbuctoo and the mountains of the phallic worshipers eastward.
Part One deals with sorcery and magic in the jungle.
Part Two deals at full length and completely with cannibalism. Seabrook lived for several months alone with the Gueré cannibals. French official documents authenticate the facts which he observed at first hand.
Part Three is a close-up picture of life today in Timbuctoo, where Seabrook was the guest of the famous monk, Père Yakouba, who quit his robes to become the world’s greatest authority on native African customs and affairs.
Part Four deals with an almost unknown people called the Habbe, cliff dwellers east of Timbuctoo. They are phallic worshipers, but believe in a Holy Trinity. They live in a sort of Utopia based on rules of life fantastically opposite to our own.
"Introduction." The White King of La Gonave. By Faustin Wirkus and Taney Dudley. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company.
[Introduction to the memoirs of Faustin Wirkus, a United States Marines administrator of La Gonave, Haiti, who was proclaimed King Faustin II by the local people during the U.S. occupation of the country. Seabrook told the story of his coronation in The Magic Island.]
July. "I Saw a Woman Turn Into a Wolf." Cosmopolitan.
[Adapted into a play by William M. Sloane III entitled Runner in the Snow: A Play of the Supernatural in One Act (Boston: Walter H. Baker, 1931).]
Air Adventure. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
A new book by William Seabrook, adventurer and author extraordinary, whose experiences in Arabia, Haiti and the jungles of Africa have won him international reputation. Air Adventure tells the thrilling story of a flight made by Seabrook, Marjorie Worthington, and René Wauthier, ace of French military pilots, over the Sahara to Timbuctoo. Three other expeditions on similar ventures had to be rescued from death on the desert. But the Seabrook plane came through in spite of sand storm, forced landing, and exploits both serious and frivolous. Nor were all their adventures in the air. Seabrook tells of his second visit with Père Yakouba, of parties with a group of desert pilots and their pretty Arab wives, of a crocodile hunt, of crawling through a subterranean aqueduct under the Sahara, and of discovering an ancient pre-Moslem château. The whole book, with its forceful, swift-moving style shows Seabrook at his best.
February. "The French Doll of Douékué." Vanity Fair 43 (6): 34-35, 71.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of six African stories for Vanity Fair from the vividly-recording pen of William Seabrook, author of The White Monk of Timbuctoo, Jungle Ways, and other books. Self-disciplined in the life and lore of dark-skinned peoples, from Haiti to Arabia, he cracks a hard racial nut in this story, with the graphic assistance of Miguel Covarrubias
[Racism and child-rearing in Douékué, a province of French Colonial Africa.]
March. "The Caged White Woman of the Saraban." Vanity Fair 44 (1): 30-31, 71, 73.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a series of African sketches for VANITY FAIR by William Seabrook, author of The White Monk of Timbuctoo, and other books. Last month, he told the story of Helène, the school-teacher's daughter in Administrator Briolle's province, and her French doll. In this chapter, Briolle ponders a more taxing racial puzzle.
[Lycanthropy amongst settlers in the Saraban.]
April. "Murder at Konakry." Vanity Fair 44 (2): 18-19, 66, 68.
May. "Part-time Panther in Daloa." Vanity Fair 44 (3): 34-35, 74.
June. "His Name was Glo." Vanity Fair 44 (4): 18-19.
July. "The Lady Hyena." Vanity Fair 44 (5): 20-21, 62.
October. "The Man Who Did Something About It." Reader's Digest 31 (186): 29-32.
Help for the long-neglected victims of stuttering. [On the work of Dr. James Sonnett Greene of the National Hospital for Speech Disorders.]
These Foreigners. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
[Printed in England under the title Americans All.]
In "Adventures in Arabia," “The Magic Island,” and “Jungle Ways,” Seabrook revealed an extraordinary ability to get inside the skin of natives of the jungle and desert. In this new book, he turns the same human understanding to the American citizens and neighbors we call Swedes, Norwegians, Italians, Dutch, Germans, Poles, Russians.
Some time ago Seabrook began to get extremely curious about all this talk one hears of “native Americans,” on the one hand, and “these damned foreigners,” on the other. It didn’t seem to make clear sense to him, and so, with his typical energy and directness, he set out to get a close-up of these foreigners. He found himself launched on a national tour of exciting dimensions, from his Hudson River Valley out to the wheatlands of the Northwest, the vineyards of California, the mines of Pennsylvania, back to New York’s East Side and West Side. Month after month he went about, viewing an unending colorful procession of “people” – simple human beings, individuals of all sorts, from day-laborers and pushcart peddlers to famous celebrities and bank presidents and professors. He found fascinating stuff, as he sang their songs, ate strange and wonderful dishes, learned new idioms, studied ways of life that were a blend of the imported and the homegrown.
From the first-hand and realistic encounter with “these foreigners,” Seabrook learned a vast amount and he has woven it all into this narrative, which is both a human moving picture, and a statement about what our new citizens contribute to America, how they live in this land of their adoption, and how they are treated here.
All the Johns, Jakes, Tonys, Mikes, Joes, Olafs, and Evas in this book are real people, named by their real names. It is all straight reporting, and combines the unusual knowledge and flavor of his adventure books with the frankness of “Asylum.”
April. "My Greatest Gustatory Adventure." The Reader's Digest 32 (192): 24.
Is there any human being who cannot recall one particular time and circumstance when food provided the thrill of a lifetime? [Predictably, Seabrook writes of cannibalism, setting the scene in Africa. Original multi-author article runs pp. 23-26.]
September. "Pioneer Spirit, '39." Reader's Digest 35 (209): 42-46.
True stories of the author's neighbors who have solved their own economic problems, winning independence and the good life with little money but lots of work
Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
William Seabrook addresses this book to rational people only. It consists of the candid adventures of a great reporter among living witches in the world today. It is one man’s testimony to the existence and the limitations of witchcraft now. It is the low-down on actual sorcery (Black Magic and White Magic too) by one who confesses not merely to have witnessed the stuff, but to have been a practitioner himself, for both good and evil.
In his earlier great books of travel and adventure, Seabrook left many questions concerning witchcraft wide open, and suppressed many episodes because their treatment would have seemed out of place. But these things cannot stay suppressed: the dirty doings of modern witches, white and black; the current sorcerers, incantations, human vampires on the Riviera; panther men in Africa and Satanists in Paris; Devil worshipers in New York; werewolves in Washington Square -- take these things how you will, there are observed experiences which remain intractable, and there are stories which, for fascination and for candor, beat anything that you have ever read.
Doctor Wood: Modern Wizard of the Laboratory. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company.
The Story of an American Small Boy Who Became the Most Daring and Original Experimental Physicist of Our Day -- but Never Grew Up.
American small boys love to make things, gadgets, smells, explosions. They also love to play outrageous pranks. Most of them, when they grow up, lose both their inventiveness and their sense of fun. Robert W. Wood lost neither. He grew up to be the most daring and original experimental physicist of our day; and he became -- and remains -- a kind of imp of the scientific world, with an international reputation for his high spirits and for his refusal to comb his scientific hair.
Dr. Wood’s experiments in the physics of light form the proof of modern theories of the basic structure of matter. For this work which he has carried on at Johns Hopkins University for the past forty years, he has received nearly every award and medal that the scientific world can bestow. The byways of his inventiveness practically cover the world: the sodium lamps that light our highways, the “electric thaw” that unstops our plumbing, the animated cartoons that make us laugh -- all these and many more trace their scientific ancestry to Robert W. Wood. He has become a great scientific criminologist and a great exposer of scientific frauds and fakirs, and he has kept his family and the scientific world in a hubbub for most of his seventy odd years.
No Hiding Place: An Autobiography. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company.
For devastating frankness, No Hiding Place rivals the classic Confessions of Rousseau. It is the true and haunting story of a life as eventful in the secret places of the soul as in its overt actions. The book is utterly fascinating a dynamo is fascinating -- mysteriously complicated, almost terrifying and sinister in sheer impulsive force, a combination case history, success story, adventure story and revelation.
With Seabrook we return to Greenwich Village in its Golden Age, and to the expatriate society of France. We share his experiences as a reporter in the South, as a Hearst syndicate writer, a successful advertising man, an ambulance driver in World War I, the author of best sellers, a member of a powerful tribe in Arabia and a Dutchess County solid citizen. Through his eyes we see the inner mysteries of Voodoo, the concealed life in a great mental hospital. His friends range from journalist to Haitian priestess, from members of Rotary to African cannibals, from café society to continental hobos. Out of diverse and complex impulses, out of all his extraordinary sufferings and pleasures, comes this amazing autobiography. Written in a style that is vital, electric and highly individual, it is not only the personal history of a phase of American culture, but a genuine contribution to psychology. Seabrook has never been afraid to be himself, and obedience to his own unique nature has led him down uncharted roads of which this book reveals every curious twist and turn. He meets the uncivilized African on equal terms as easily as he does the most precious French sophisticate. Through his experience he has achieved a compassionate understanding that embraces all humanity. His story is made memorable by it.
September 24. “’Mme. Werewolf’s’ Captive.” The American Weekly: 14-15.
Rescue of the 16-Year-Old Kidnap Victim by Mexico Police Has Revealed Incredible Cruelties Inflicted by Her Captor and Started an Inquiry Into the Dreadful Rites in the House of Horror Where the Bodies of Missing Infants Were Hidden
[Analysis of a murder and sex slave case in Panzacola, Tlaxcala, suggesting the suspect, who maintained an altar upon which was enshrined the skeleton of a dog or jackal and upon whose land were found the remains of two children, believed herself to be a werewolf.]