Synopses & Reviews
By the time he was twenty-two, Dan Eldon had led a relief mission across Africa; worked as a graphic designer in New York; studied (intermittently) at four colleges; traveled through Europe, Africa, Japan, and the US; founded a charity for Mozambiquan refugees; directed a film; written a book; started up his own photography business; and become a photojournalist for Reuters news agency, covering the famine and civil war in Somalia. There, in 1993, he was killed in an eruption of mob violence while on assignment. In a world of rules and regularity, Eldon was a renegade, a risk-taker, and an adventurer. But, despite all his travels, he knew that the interior landscape is the only one truly worth exploring, and this is the journey he dedicated himself to recording. His is no ordinary journal; it is an astonishing seventeen-volume collage of photos, drawings, words, maps, clippings, paint, scraps, shards, and trash that reveals his strange and vivid life. The Journey is the Destination offers a selection of pages from these extraordinary journals, at once the vision of an artist in his prime and the unrestrained outpourings of a young man just beginning to live.
This book has been written up almost everywhere, around the world, in local newspapers, and international publications. Here are a few of the reviews, each reflecting on the profundity of Dan Eldon's story.
By Peter Canby
Dan Eldon was only twenty-two when, at the height of conflict in Somalia, he and three other journalists were chased down by a mob enraged at a United Nations helicopter attack and stoned to death. The year was 1993. Eldon was among the first to document the famine in Somalia; he had risen rapidly through the ranks of war photographers, with spreads in Time, Newsweek, and Stern. But, as "The Journey Is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon" shows, he was an artist as well. The son of an English father and an American mother, he grew up in Nairobi, where he became fascinated by the mixture of European and African cultures and learned to speak fluent Swahili. At fifteen, he began recording his life in a series of eclectic, exuberantly collaged journals, which incorporate everything from his own drawings and paintings to stamps, matchbook covers, photographs of his friends, and self-portraits.
By the time Eldon died, he had compiled seventeen journals, the last of which -- according to his mother, Kathy, who edited the published selection -- consisted, uncharacteristically, of his Somalia photographs mounted on plain white paper. Eldon was a popular figure in Somalia, but he'd become depressed by seeing the Africa he loved crumbling around him. In one of his journals he quotes Plato: "Only the dead have seen the end of war."
Lest the Picture Fade
By Joshua Hammer
For Kathy Eldon the trip was the climax of a four-year obsession. On a blazingly hot day, last September, Eldon, her daughter, Amy, a television crew and 40 Somali bodyguards rode through the streets of Mogadishu to the rubble of a large cinder-block house. Here, on July 12, 1993, a U.N. helicopter fired missiles into a group of suspected aides to warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid, killing 80 people. Minutes after the attack, Kathy's son, Dan Eldon, 22, and three other foreign jounalists were cornered by an angry mob and stoned and beaten to death. Now, as mother and daughter approached the killing site to film a documentary, another hostile crowd gathered. "They were screaming 'Get these foreigners out, we don't want to remember that horrible day'," says Kathy Eldon, 51. "We piled back into the vehicles and left in a hurry." She was both shaken and strangely elated by the experience. "There was a curious sense of joy that we'd been there and seen where he died," she says.
Kathy Eldon has not grieved quietly. Over the past four years, she has traveled across three continents--and repeatedly relived her son's horrifying end--in a quest to commemorate his brief, eventful life. She has found an eager audience. Last month Chronicle Books published "The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon," a collection of vibrant collages created by Dan from the age of 13 until his death. The book has already sold nearly 30,000 copies, and a second printing is being planned. Meanwhile, former Columbia Pictures president Lisa Henson and Oliver Stone's former partner Janet Yang are developing a feature movie about the last three years of Dan Eldon's life. Next September Amy Eldon, 23, will appear in a Turner Broadcasting documentary about Dan's career called "Dying to Tell the Story." Thousands of teenagers have participated in a Nairobi program founded in 1993 by Dan's father, Michael, called The Depot--Dan Eldon Place of Tomorrow, a sort of Outward Bound-on-the-savanna that teaches leadership skills.
Eldon's story, a mix of doomed innocence, gonzo adventure and Third World exoticism, seems tailored for cinematic mythmaking. Son of a British father and an Amencan mother, now divorced, Eldon
The power of Dan Eldon's art is a dazzling testament to the way in which he lived his life...Jan Sardi, screenwriter, Shine
Wild with sex and death, the collection resembles the illuminations of a young Blake. British Esquire
Dan Eldon lived more in twenty-two years than most people do in eighty. He traveled through four continents, led expeditions across Africa, wrote a book, worked as a graphic designer in New York, made a film, and became a respected photojournalist - all before his sudden, violent death in Somalia. This is no ordinary diary; it is an astonishing collage of photographs, drawings, words, maps, clippings, paints, scraps, shards, and trash that reveals his strange and vivid life. The wild trips and weird places, the lovers and late nights, the danger and fun are captured in pages that seem to shiver with passion, opinion, and dark humor. Eldon's journal holds up a pure mirror to both the sickness of the modern world and the fragile happiness of the human condition, and ultimately, reveals the accidental beauty that only a young artist can truly capture.
The best-selling and critically acclaimed book The Journey Is the Destination, is now in paperback. Featuring a selection of over 200 pages from the journals of photojournalist Dan Eldon, it is the legacy of a young artist killed just as his creative powers were beginning to be recognized by himself and others. Already an international inspiration for a documentary, a feature film, a clothing line, and the Spring 2011 collection of Tom's Shoes, Dan's life sets an admirable example of how to be young, human, and aliveand will continue to inspire future generations as it has for the past decade.
About the Author
Dan Eldon was born in London in 1970 and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. His photographs of Somalia's brutal famine, published in newspapers worldwide, helped trigger the world's conscience. Eldon was stoned to death by a Somali mob reacting against a UN bombing
Kathy Eldon is co-producing both a feature film about her son's life and a documentary about journalists who put their lives at risk to tell a story. She lives in Los Angeles.