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Boy, oh boy! I enjoyed Frank Dello Stritto’s new book, CARL DENHAM’S GIANT MONSTERS. Frank makes you feel as if you’re right in Denham’s tropical island home, hearing Denham’s adventures unfold. Loaded with real history and “reel” history of other expeditions in search of prehistoric creatures, this is a wonderful and well-researched book.

– Leonard J. Kohl, Author of Sinister Serials

The author goes out of his way to make Denham’s story seem as if it really happened. He portrays the older Denham as a man who, at times, still has some of his old bravado–but he also is haunted and humbled by his actions during the Kong affair. While reading this book, I couldn’t help but hear Robert Armstrong’s voice when Denham speaks. The premise is fascinating, and Dello Stritto does a masterful job in connecting all the dots and bringing back memories of dozens of fantastic films.

–Dan Day, Jr., The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog


Carl Denham is forever remembered as the man who captured the giant ape, King Kong, and brought the creature to New York. This book, for the first time, tells of Denham’s life, as told by Denham himself.

After Kong’s night of destruction in Manhattan, and the public’s outcry for Denham’s head, he fled U. S. jurisdiction, and “was never seen again.” Yet rumors of his whereabouts and doings spread among the small close-knit and closed-mouthed community of explorers and adventurers.

Forty years after Kong’s night on the town, Frank Dello Stritto, an oil company engineer, and his wife Linda were living in Jakarta, Indonesia, and occasionally spent weekends on the small resort island of Kotok. There they met an 80-year-old man who had been living in a fenced-off and guarded house for many years. They soon learned that their new friend was Carl Denham.

Denham had outlived any statutes of limitations on Kong-related lawsuits and criminal charges, as well as any relatives of Kong’s victims who had searched for him. He knew that he was near death, and wanted two things: to tell his story and to find one last adventure.

Over the next two years, Frank and Linda met with Denham often, and learned of his many adventures before, during and after Kong.

In the early 20th Century, Denham gained fame as a fearless adventurer and documentary filmmaker. As a young man, he accompanied two-seasoned explorers to South America (Theodore Roosevelt on the 1914 “River of Doubt” expedition, and George Edward Challenger on the 1925 “Lost World” expedition to find missing explorer Maple White). Denham then traveled across the Indian Ocean to film Lost Lemuria, and to Africa for On Safari with Gorillas. Both films are now lost, but contemporary reviews testify to their thrilling footage of exotic lands.

Those early adventures prepared Denham for an expedition to unknown Skull Island, where he encountered and subdued Kong.

Those early exploits are well-documented, but Denham’s journeys continued after he vanished. He made another trip to Skull Island, then back to Africa and South America, then to the Himalayas, and to an unknown island whose location Denham refused to divulge.

Between exploits, he hosted visits from explorers and scientists whose odd quests rivaled his.  Denham sought more than adventure. Guilt over what he had done to Kong, and what Kong had done to many innocent people, haunted him. He looked for an exploit that might somehow, at least in his own mind, redeem him, and stay the memories that gave him no peace.