The Age of Daredevils

At the dawn of the twentieth century, a small but determined band of barrel jumpers risked their lives in one of the world s most wondrous waterfalls Only a few survived.By turns a family drama and an action adventure story, The Age of Daredevils chronicles the lives of the men and women who devoted themselves to the extraordinary sport of jumping over Niagara Falls in aAt the dawn of the twentieth century, a small but determined band of barrel jumpers risked their lives in one of the world s most wondrous waterfalls Only a few survived.By turns a family drama and an action adventure story, The Age of Daredevils chronicles the lives of the men and women who devoted themselves to the extraordinary sport of jumping over Niagara Falls in a barrel a death defying gamble that proved a powerful temptation to a hardy few.Internationally known in the 1920s and 30s for their barrel jumping exploits, the Hills were a father son team of daredevils who also rescued dozens of misguided thrill seekers and accident victims who followed them into the river The publicity surrounding the Hills spectacular feats ushered in tourism, making Niagara Falls the nation s foremost honeymoon destination, but ultimately set Red Hill Jr on a perilous path to surpass his father s extraordinary leaps into the void.Like the works of Jon Krakauer and David McCullough, The Age of Daredevils explores the primal force of fear and the thirst for adventure that drive humans to the brink of death to see if they can somehow escape.
The Age of Daredevils At the dawn of the twentieth century a small but determined band of barrel jumpers risked their lives in one of the world s most wondrous waterfalls Only a few survived By turns a family drama and an

  • Title: The Age of Daredevils
  • Author: Michael Clarkson
  • ISBN: 9781503935426
  • Page: 138
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “The Age of Daredevils”

    1. I knew a river wide and deepHer banks were very tallAt one end was a mountain streamThe other was a waterfall, boysThe other was a waterfall.In a book that reads like historical fiction, Clarkson pays tribute to those who have dared the falls, in particular, the family of William "Red" Hill.I asked the old man by the riverHe did not recallThe last attempt to ride a barrelOver the waterfall. Interestingly enough, the first man to survive a trip over the Horseshoe Falls was a 63-year-old woman - A [...]

    2. The golden age of Niagara daredevils is sketched through a portrait of three generations of the Hill Family. While there is no pubic monument to any Hill, this Canadian family is known on both sides of the river for its many and varied river exploits, for good and bad.For me, because I grew up in Niagara Falls, NY I appreciated that author Michael Clarkson clarified who was who among the Hill’s. He shows how they aided those who took on the falls in a barrel, but never had a successful attempt [...]

    3. While the topic of this book was compelling, the story itself was written in an old-fashioned way--all sorts of made up dialogue and thoughts, constant comments about what individuals looked like, a dramatic start with a daredevil act that wasn't actually described until much later in the story. Unfortunately, by the time I got to that later point, I felt the story had fizzled out and was becoming unbearably repetitious. That's not to say the book is not worth reading, however, since it covers a [...]

    4. Although the story of people wanting to go over the falls pulled me to this book the writing was just not for me.

    5. I was middle-aged when I saw Niagara Falls. I was anxious to get to Toronto and completely disinterested in the Falls. I'd seen a million pictures and films of it. Water falling over rocks. Big deal. When I caught my first glimpse of the Falls themselves, I was as awe-struck and mesmerized as everyone must be when they look at it. Reduced to a shadow of its former majesty by the construction of hydro-electric dams and surrounded by cheesy, dated tourist traps, it's still a magnificent, awe-inspi [...]

    6. I don't know what to call Michael Clarkson's painstakingly researched The Age of Daredevils. It's formally historical. It's certainly popularly historical because I loved it. It may actually be an historical novel because, while based on the truth, certainly conversations are realistically imagined or recreated based on the recollections of others.It may be truth, and it may be fiction. It's certainly as close to truth as fiction allows.It is written in the spare, unadorned style of a journalist [...]

    7. The Lives and Times of DaredevilsMichael Clarkson's book about the daredevils of Niagara Falls is thoroughly researched and well written. A self-professed river rat and former newspaper reporter, Clarkson interviewed numerous people and referenced many sources in compiling this history of those lured to challenge the magnificent waterfalls. He brings the human element into the narrative by framing the work around the Hill family, whose lives were seemingly defined by the mighty Niagara.

    8. Got this on a whim from the Prime/Kindle Free program. After a slow start, it turned out to be fairly interesting. Still not sure what would compel any person to want to ride over Horseshoe Falls in any kind of transport, but the author weaves his story around a whole family whose lives were bound up in the falls and the Niagara river.

    9. This is not a particularly well-written book. Yet it is very interesting for the facts of the two generations of the Canadian daredevil Hill family and their milieu, especially for me, a native of Niagara Falls, NY. It covers the time span of approximately 1900-1980. Although the matriarch, Beatrice, is central in the story along with her sons, there is only a little about her daughters. Full of detail of particular feats, It ended rather abruptly with a quick mention of non-Hill exploits and mi [...]

    10. Just my opinion, mind youAnd that is that while this story might have been a labor of love for Mr. Clarkson, it just didn't have any appeal for me. I only really read the first sick chapter and then skimmed. But then, I don't enjoy professional hockey, or MMA, or boxing, and other sports that appeal to the - ummm - bloodthirsty element.I'm from San Francisco. Our Golden Gate Bridge attracts a certain crowd not unlike these assorted poor souls who - let's be honest about it - commit suicide at Ni [...]

    11. In 1951, when I was six, my family stopped at Niagara Falls on vacation. Leaving town to head to Toronto we stopped at what I've always remembered as a gas station. On the edge of the property by the road was a sign and against it a jumble of really big inner tubes covered with netting. My mother said a man went over the falls in it. I couldn't imagine anyone would actually do such a thing. Over time I leaned toward thinking it was a hoax and pretty much forgot it. The memory didn't pop back int [...]

    12. As a kid I had heard about people trying to survive Niagara Falls in a barrel, but I can't say I had a burning desire to learn more. Still, when the book became available and I saw a giveaway, I decided to give it a shot. Thanks to for selecting my entry for a free Kindle version.I enjoyed this book more than I expected based on the other reviews. It's written in a very conversational style, and while I was suspicious early on that the author really knew what was going on inside people's heads [...]

    13. Really enjoyable read with tons of local Niagara historyI thoroughly enjoyed this book. I appreciate the author's work and research, and his focus on the Hill family and their successes and tragedies. If you've ever been to Niagara Falls, then this book really helps color the world wonder beyond just the roaring waterfalls and thick mist. This book really did a great job of bringing the people and community of Niagara to life.

    14. Wpw!!!!A crazy historical masterpiece! Coming from the northeastern coast myself, I found this to be a spectacular account of a time long forgotten. So many things you don't get on a tourist regaling of the area. Good stuff!

    15. not bad. didn't care much for the writing style. some parts were repetitive, but overall it was an interesting read about some interesting people.

    16. Interesting but a little bit of struggle to finish because it seemed some of the text conflicted previous statements throughout the book.

    17. The subject matter of this book is pretty interesting - the story of the Daredevils who went over the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara in the early 20th Century. Foremost among these are the Hill family, Red Hill Senior and his sons, who make a living on the river, often bringing in the bodies of suicides or accidental deaths. Their relationship with the river, and with other thrill seekers who come to take on the Falls in barrels and balls, is compelling and often heartbreaking.Clarkson has researche [...]

    18. This book should have been a lot more interesting. It seemed very unfocused and meandered all over. I ended up skimming quite a bit and then just lost interest.

    19. I really wanted to enjoy this book because the topic sounded so interesting. Who wouldn't be interested in learning about the daredevils who wanted to ride a barrel over Niagara Falls? Unfortunately this book was about as dry as Niagara is wet. The main focus of the book was on the William "Red" Hill family and its legacy of being Niagara's first family of rivermen. I kept wanting to get to know these men and to understand what drove them to risk their lives. However the writing felt too superfi [...]

    20. This book was fascinating at first. I love reading about the people who decide to try crazy things for the first time. Where do they get the idea, the motivation, the gumption to go through with it? Very interesting! But this book slowed down a bit toward the middle, continuing through the end. Like many non-fiction subjects, it became a little repetitive as the book wore on. Still a fun read!

    21. InterestingNot the usual book I'd read but the title intrigued me. Having been to Niagara Falls I was curious to read about going over the falls but don't think I'd copy them as it rarely works!

    22. This is a factual book about the people who have dared to take on the might of Niagara Falls, and in particular the Hill family, who over several generations have dared to ride the rapids and the falls themselves, while also rescuing many who have got into trouble in the river. I particularly liked the stories of Bobby Leach, who went about America claiming to be the first man to survive a barrel ride over the falls. Strictly true, but he omitted to point out that a woman, Annie Taylor, complete [...]

    23. Previous temptations at Niagara FallsWell written history from the late 1800's to present with years of research. Thirst for adventure, the force of fear, drove many to the brink of death to see if they could survive. Both men and women gave this challenge a try to gain notoriety or earn money. Mrs. Anne Taylor, in the late 1800's was the first person and woman to go over the Falls and survive. Most of the book deals with the Hill family and their knowledge of the Niagara Falls, their help to ot [...]

    24. This book is a factual account of Niagara Falls and people going over the falls from the late 1880s to early 2000s; and focused on Red Hill and family - a family who rescued people who went over Niagara Falls either on purpose or by accident, or got caught-up in the rapids at the base of the Falls. The Hills were also daredevils, daring the ride over the falls in barrels. One account (Chapter 7) told of people partying on bridges of ice when they broke up causing the death of people - this happe [...]

    25. I don't normally write reviews as I normally read books quite widely known already, but this isn't! I really enjoyed this more (and in different ways) than I expected. It was very much a family saga, which I loved, which also explored the culture around the "age of daredevils" at the Niagara, including the darker side, raising questions about that thin and blurry line between a stunt and a suicide attempt/death wish. It was a bit repetitive at points but overall the writing, in addition to the c [...]

    26. I actually thought this book was interesting and well done, and I'd give it more of a 3 1/2. :) Some of the writing fell a little flat, but in general I enjoyed it enough to finish. What really would have added to the reading experience would have been photos of the Hill family and other major players, photos of the falls themselves, and a map of the area.If you have an interest in Niagara Falls, it's definitely worth a read.

    27. Niagara Falls is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit. However, I don't have any plans to go over the falls in a barrel. I was intrigued by Michael Clarkson's historical fiction and especially the Hill family. If you're looking for a story about the falls that is long on facts and short on "story" this is the novel for you. The facts about the falls and the handful of daredevils that risked their lives for fame and fortune was fascinating. An enjoyable read.

    28. Constant ExcitementThis a family story of page turning excitement following generations of the Hill family and the seduction of the falls. The family was in love with Niagara Falls and its many individual portions each of which had dangers. Each f the dangers had separate fixes to I've along. The death of individual family members was very sad and the strong mother figure, Bea, kept them together.

    29. Daredevils galore!!!The challenge of going over Niagara falls and living draws many men of one family to try and conquer the falls. Exciting book from beginning to end learning of the Hill family and their exploits to challenge Niagara. Not only are they true dare-devils but also rescuers to others who have tried to take the plunge. From rescuing the successful and retrieving the not so successful from the falls.

    30. I couldn't decide if the author thought he was writing bad fiction or a historical account. Either way, I got halfway and decided it was enough for me. Too much detail cited like a teenager's history book and the background stories to make it interesting read like a high school journalism class project. An exciting subject made boring, IMHO.

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