The Journey is the Destination: The Journals of Dan Eldon


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 ...
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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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452102504
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 2/9/2011
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 303,932
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathy Eldon is the founder of the Creative Visions Foundation, a global organization that supports creative activists to use their talents to change the world around them. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Interviews & Essays

On Wednesday, October 15th, welcomed Kathy Eldon to discuss THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION.

Moderator: Welcome, Kathy Eldon. We are glad you could join us this evening to talk about THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION.

Dan Eldon: Absolutely delighted to be here.

Cairo from Birmingham, AL: Where did the title THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION come from? Why did you choose it for the title?

Dan Eldon: The title came from a page in the book, in the middle, and I think it sums up everything that Dan's life is about, in the sense that we shouldn't be questing for an external faraway destination but should fill each moment in our lives with a sense of purpose, adventure, and learning.

POWA from Austin, TX: As the son of an American and a Brit, how did Dan end up in Nairobi, Kenya? Why did you and Dan's father move there?

Dan Eldon: My husband, Mike, was posted to Nairobi to run a British computer company, and I came along with Dan, age seven, and Amy, age three. Once there, I became a journalist and started to write books and explored the excitement of living in Africa.

Arthur from Newtown, PA: Was Dan trained in photography? How did he discover his talent?

Dan Eldon: We gave Dan his first camera when he was five, and he took photographs of people's middles and of sheep. Throughout childhood, he was interested in photography like any other child but began to show signs of having a "photographer's eye" by the age of around 13 or 14. We bought a secondhand developing kit for Dan from a garage sale and encouraged him to go out and really take photographs. Dan took a photography course at university in England, and he got a C+ in it because he never followed instructions -- he never did what the teacher wanted him to. He protested loudly, but the teacher was adamant and the grade stayed. The teacher is still teaching photography at that college, and Dan went on to most of the major newspapers and magazines in the world.

Barter from Chowchilla, CA: Hello, Kathy! What is Dan's sister Amy up to these days?

Dan Eldon: Amy and I have just come back from a five-week trip all the way to South Africa to shoot a two-hour documentary for Turner Original Productions. The idea was Amy's at age 21, who was a student at Boston University College of Communications. She proposed a documentary which would examine the lives of photographers, broadcasters, and camera people who risked their lives to do their job. She called the project "Dying to Tell the Story." Turner accepted the proposal, and the film will be aired in September 1998. Amy interviewed such people as Christianne Amanpour, Don McCullen, Martin Bell (BBC broadcaster), and many other incredible shooters and broadcasters to question why they do what they do, what seeing the horrors that they see does to them and what it means to each one of us. Amy is now 23 and is also working on some children's books focusing on communication.

Alonso from Brooklyn, NY: How did Dan Eldon manage to get hired by Reuters at such a young age? Did they send him to Somalia, or was he already there? I'm also curious where his photographs appeared. Thanks.

Dan Eldon: In the summer of 1992, Dan heard rumors of a possible famine in Somalia. He and a friend from The Philadelphia Inquirer traveled north to see if there was any truth to the rumors. There was a horrific famine. Dan and his friend took pictures, which Reuters spotted in the Kenyan newspaper The Nation. They called him in and eventually put him on contract as a stringer. He was at the time one of the youngest stringers working for Reuters. Having been brought up in Africa, Dan knew his way around, and once he had really learned from the professional photographers who were already there, he was able to get photographs which would have been difficult for people who were not as familiar with the local situation. Although Dan was half American and half British, he considered himself an African. Dan's photographs appeared in nearly all the major newspapers and magazines around the world. He had a center spread in Newsweek. His images were distributed on the Reuters wire.

Annette Borgford from Golden, CO: Hello, Kathy Eldon! What a unique way to chronicle your life. What did Dan use, aside from photographs, to put his collages together?

Dan Eldon: A lot of Elmer's glue! We lived in Africa, where Dan did not have access to computer graphics or color photocopiers or anything artificial. So the early journals were completely done with cutting and pasting. Dan used everything at hand, including dried insects, snakeskin, hair, ceiling wax, trash, cut-up photographs, old advertisements -- literally anything that was part of his life or connected his life to the world around him. It is possible to do what Dan did with almost nothing at hand except what you encounter on a daily basis. In a way, Dan created his life as art, and by publishing Dan's work, I was hoping that other people would be inspired to view their lives differently.

Chrome from Culver City: I just got the JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION -- what a beautiful book. I'm curious to know about the book that Dan published before his death. Is it still in print? What was it about?

Dan Eldon: The book is called SOMALIA, and he published it in April 1993 from photographs he took in Somalia accompanied by a commentary he wrote himself. We have copies that we sell to benefit the foundation we created in Dan's memory, and thus far it's sold about 10,000 copies. It's a very powerful and moving testimony to the horror Dan saw around him and also to Dan's hope that the spirit of the Somali people would energize the country and bring it back to peace.

Irena from Wilmington, DE: As a mother, I wonder how you remain so hopeful and positive about Dan's death. To me it seems so tragic and the circumstances so ugly that I would have a hard time not being bitter.

Dan Eldon: I think we all have a choice to make in our lives and I have chosen to try to move beyond the rage that I felt at Dan's death. There will always be an aching sense of loss within me, but I have chosen to try to transform the pain of Dan's death into something that has a life force of its own. I now encourage all those who I know who lost loved ones to move beyond the sense of anger towards something that brings light. Recently Amy and I returned to Somalia to visit the place where Dan was killed -- our escort was a Somali woman who was in the house that was bombed by UN forces. She lost two brothers and an uncle in the bombing. We lost Dan. We were united by our grief. She had every reason to hate me as an American. And perhaps some people would say I should have hated her because she was Somali, but there was no question of that. We instantly bonded as friends, and all of us felt a sense of acceptance, forgiveness, and peace.

Christopher from Cambridge, MA: Kathy, I think we often take for granted the role journalists play in our lives. I just wonder what you read -- where do you get your news?

Dan Eldon: Now that I am in L.A., I tend to read the L.A. Times, which isn't the best vehicle of achieving understanding of what's happening in the world necessarily. I've become a fan of the Internet, and there's a new Africa online news service which I am now accessing. And I try to pick up The New York Times whenever I can. You are so right about the role of journalists in the world. My particular personal crusade has been awareness of journalists as our eyes and our ears. Without them we don't know what is happening in our world and cannot make reasoned decisions both for ourselves and with our leaders. We must not confuse news photographers with paparazzi. We must also be aware of the sacrifices made by those committed to bringing us the news. Over the past 200 years, over 1000 journalists have died while doing their job. As part of the documentary, my daughter, Amy, visited the Memorial to Dead Journalists at the Freedom Forum's headquarters, in Arlington, Virginia. Every year, over 50 names are added of journalists, photographers, broadcasters, and cameramen and women who have literally died to tell the story.

Kirsten from Toronto: Could you tell me a little about the movie that is being made about Dan Eldon's life? When is it coming out? Who is in it? Will it be a documentary?

Dan Eldon: First we are making a documentary -- I mentioned it earlier -- that includes Dan as one strand. However next September we are hoping to shoot a major feature film about Dan's life in Africa, which has been written by Jan Sardi, the brilliant scriptwriter of "Shine." Jan flew in from Australia yesterday to meet with executives at Columbia to talk about he screenplay, which will be produced by Lisa Henson (Jim Henson's daughter) and the former president of Columbia Studios, Janet Yang ("The Joy Luck Club" and "The People vs. Larry Flint"), and me. I did not wish to make this film unless it was made correctly, and therefore guarded it with my life until the right people came along. We are working with an outstanding executive at Columbia Studios, Michael Kostigan, who upon hearing about Dan, promptly climbed on a plane and flew off to Kenya, so I knew he was okay. I'm very pleased with the first draft of the screenplay, and already there is strong interest from directors and "talent." For me the most exciting challenge would be to find the young man who will be playing Dan. The cast will include young people of all varieties -- already the spirit of the film is unique in Hollywood.

Jain from NYC: I'm curious, who were some of Dan's favorite photographers? Did he have one in particular who served as an inspiration?

Dan Eldon: I think Eddie Adam's work certainly inspired Dan. There is an image in Dan's journal of the general shooting the man in Vietnam, which Dan has contrasted with one of his own images of a Marine holding a gun to a Somali man's head. Eddie -- multiprize winner and survivor of over 13 wars -- has since become a friend of ours. Any young photographer who is interested in the best seminars in photography should check out the Eddie Adams Photojournalism Workshop. Amy and I were there two weeks ago and got to meet the Turnley twins, David Kennerly, Gordon Parks, Younghi Kim, Bill Eppridge, Jill McNally, John White, and amazing photo editors like Michele Stephenson (Time), Kathy Ryan (The New York Sunday Times Magazine), and M. C. Mardin (formerly of People magazine). Another inspiration to Dan was Corinne Dufka, the Reuters photographer -- very brave and talented -- who later took over from Dan and is now the Reuters photographer in East Africa. Corinne taught Dan many of the tricks on how to stay alive in situations of conflict.

Balsam from Toronto: I am interested in hearing how people can enhance the quality of their day-to-day lives. P.S. You sound like an amazing mom.

Dan Eldon: A big thank you! I think if we live as though we had six months left in our lives, each one of us would live very differently. Anyone who has lost a loved one or has flirted with death himself or herself must shift priorities. Things that used to matter don't matter so much. I think the essence of life is really about being connected to other people and experiencing life firsthand. I love the Internet, but at times we have to push back the keyboard and get out in the dirt and remember to play and live fully and love well. One of Dan's favorite quotes -- it's the definition of success and it's by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was a great hero of Dan's -- was, "To laugh often and love much, to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give oneself, to leave the world a lot better, to have played and sung with exultation, to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived -- that is to have succeeded."

Amy from Salt Lake City: Hello, Ms. Eldon. I am so impressed with Dan's life and THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION. How did Dan accomplish so much in such a short time? What was it about him that caused him to be so driven?

Dan Eldon: Good question! I grapple with this question myself over and over. He once had a girlfriend who got very angry with him, saying that he was documenting their relationship practically before they had their relationship. My daughter, Amy, says that Dan wasn't particularly interested in that girl, but she was a great model. Having said that, Dan seemed in an immense hurry to experience all that he could out of life. Looking back on it, one could question whether at some subliminal level he might have felt he didn't have that much time. I believe that, growing up in Africa, there is a sense of living on the edge that is fairly unusual in the West, and you do tend to live more fully than people in America. I think there are more frontiers. There's a bigger sky. More things haven't been done already. There's a sense that anything is possible. Perhaps that was part of his drive.

Jonathan from NYC: The title of your book immediately reminded me of one of my most cherished poems, called "Ithaka." It's by C. P. Cavafy and is precisely about focusing on the journey in lieu of destinations. Why do people insist on avoiding being in the present? How was Dan able to grasp this concept at such a young age?

Dan Eldon: "You'll never arrive at Ithaka." I know the poem. I actually visited Delphi when Dan was about 16, and it changed my life forever. It was there that I learned the ancient message of Delphi -- to know thyself. Shakespeare added the words "and to thine own self be true." I left Africa on a quest for myself, which was very hard for Dan, but he supported my desire to do that. He then went on his own quest. When I wanted him to leave Somalia and go back to university, he said, "Don't ask me to do that. My job isn't done." It was then that I had to honor his journey, no matter what. Ultimately I think that is all we as parents can do for our children -- to be the wind beneath their wings and to support them in knowing who they really are and to understand their life's purpose.

Moderator: Thank you for joining us this evening, Ms. Eldon. It was an absolute pleasure to spend some time with you online and discuss such a fascinating life. Any final comments?

Dan Eldon: I wish I could go on for hours. It was the best fun I've had in years!

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2005


    One of the most touching books I have ever read. There is nothing else to say... Superb!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2002


    All I really have to say, is nothing. I am speechless everytime I flip through his journal. Sometimes I feel like I'm priving into his life and soul, but I can't help it. It's beautiful. He had(has) a beautiful soul.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2001


    This is possibly one of the best books ive ever seen. You feel so much by just looking at this guys journal. It almost made me cry. This is the best book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2000

    emboldening and uplifting

    I first saw this book at school. My photograohy teacher handed it to me and said it reminded her of me and she wanted me to read it. I immediatly stopped what I was doing and read the intro. I was so amazed with his story, that I asked my teacher if I could take it home. She agreed and within a week I had my own copy and was working harder than ever on my own journal. I don't know if I can ever fully explain the effect this book had on my own life and art work. Word seem to deminish the passion I hold. This is an amazing book and Dan is the most unique artist I've ever seen. I wish he could've visited my school. He's truely astonishing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2000

    the great inpiration

    The very second i turned my head in the book store and the glimps of this book touched the iris of my eye i was struck with impuration (sorry not a good speller) this totally got my attention right away i spent 3 hours in the store examining every page of this awsome book , one week later me and my friend planned a coastal road trip. thanx dan

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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