One Man in His Time, A Memoir

      “This jam-packed true adventure story details Wilhelmsen’s considerable time in Peru in search of Inca treasure and his escapades in Mexico, all of which became source material for travelogues he presented across the country in the 1950s. Wilhelmsen, a past director of the Los Angeles Adventurers Club, has the right credentials to call himself a legend hunter. He received the prestigious I Search for Adventure, Golden Voyage, and Bold Journey television awards. Jack Douglas, the producer of these films, gave him the title of ‘The Legend Hunter’ which he borrowed for the book. He’s not a bad writer, either, as this memoir shows.
            “In 1533, the Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro made his epic march through the deserts and mountains of Peru in search of Cuzco, the golden city of the Inca. Pizarro found gold, and his discovery whetted the appetite of the Spanish for more, setting the stage for their extensive exploration south to the new world. Gold, as artifacts and as the theme for stories and film footage, also motivated Wilhelmsen to launch the six years of adventure travel he talks about in the book.
            “On stage, his stories and the accompanying footage of Inca ruins, the foreboding jungle and the Indians he encountered along the way made him quite the celebrity. He hit the lecture circuit to share his real-life adventures with Inca artifacts, balky mules, rebellious Indians, revolutionaries, ancient ships filled with guano for the fertilizer business and more. Readers sensitive to the need to record and preserve archaeological sites with find the author’s blatant accounts of what is commonly known as grave robbing, a chilling confession. Wilhelmsen offers a glimpse at Peru’s long-buried empires and forgotten civilizations as well as a look at more recent history, only 50 years ago when Columbia was safe for tourists and even viewed tourism as an economic channel to cultivate. He meets fascinating people along the way and shares their stories.
            “Unlike many memoir writers, Wilhelmsen does a good job of turning real people into characters, distilling their essential qualities and offering intriguing snapshots that serve the purpose of moving his story along. He doesn’t feel obligated to tell us everyone’s story; he focuses on his own adventure, his personal interpretation of the events with an assurance that gives the book welcome jauntiness. The reader sometimes feels that he’s in the hands of a consummate entertainer with a larger-than-life ego. As you’d expect from a filmmaker, the author has a great eye for the landscape through which he traveled; the visual descriptions are terrific. In addition, several sections of black-and-white photos of archaeological sites, scenery, Peruvian gold and the author and his friends add to the book’s appeal. Perhaps most endearing of all, although Wilhelmsen’s stories usually show him in the heroic mode, once in a while they depict misadventures which make him seem a lot more human.”
      —Anne Hillerman, Southwest BookViews
            “Wilhelmsen, an adventurer who supported his travels by filming documentaries and travelogues, invites readers on a real-life trek through 1950s-60s South America in search of ancient stories of gold and treasure. Along the way, readers will meet a fugitive wanted for genocidal murder of Indians, a film actor who gave up his career for the solitude of the Andes Mountains, and a female journalist on the run from a corrupt government. Black and white photos are included.”
      —Book News, Inc.