The life of Sir Harry Perry Robinson (1859-1930) unfolds like a Boy's Own adventure. Born in India and educated at Oxford, Harry fled to the United States to make his name and fortune. From the White House to Buckingham Palace, the American West to the Western Front, the sands of Egypt to the shores of India, the board room to the bedroom, Harry was a master of reinvention, and each of the nine 'lives' he assumed allowed an 'escape' from one experience into the next. His innate wanderlust was both a blessing and a curse, but it made for a splendid adventure, and Harry's was a grand life lived in history's shadow.
... absorbing ... Harry was born in 1859, which is why you’ve probably never heard of him. I certainly hadn’t until I read Joseph McAleer’s fascinating book ... Harry Perry Robinson is not a particularly topical figure. He has nothing especially useful to teach us about the world today. But he was a good writer and a very good reporter, and Joseph McAleer has performed a valuable service in bringing his fine work to the fore.
McAleer, an American with a doctorate from Oxford, is perhaps attracted to Robinson for his transatlantic leanings ... what McAleer has come up with is a forensic yet readable account of the gifted, personally adventurous but politically conservative Robinson.
In Escape Artist, Joseph McAleer’s premise is that his uneminent subject was in fact a remarkable fellow who deserves to be much better known. He calls Harry Perry Robinson (1859-1930) 'a latter-day Tocqueville' whose 'march through history, a near-epic story,' exemplified 'an exciting personal story worthy of Horatio Alger. ' Whether readers of this book will enjoy it depends, I suspect, on whether they agree with Mr. McAleer’s thesis ... Escape Artist is well researched and, for the most part, well written ... Escape Artist has many virtues, but its subject is more Zelig than exemplar.