The horse latitudes are certain zones in the ocean which used to be the despair of sailing vessels. They are characterized by dead calms, light, baffling winds and hot, dry weather. If a ship came along and got stuck in one of those dead calms, drinking water might soon run out and then everyone would go berserk, including the horses (if they were onboard). In fact as passengers and crew clambered around in their berserkness, the horses might get thrown overboard. At least that’s H. Allen Smith’s story ― and he’s sticking to it.
After the popularity of Low Man on a Totem Pole and Life in a Putty Factory, H. Allen Smith spent eight months in Hollywood as a scriptwriter for Paramount Pictures. Always quick to see the zany side of even the most serious of situations and known as a prankster, Smith descended on the Paramount lot like a plague of locusts and then proceeded to offer such vital contributions as mowing the lawn and asking for the men's room. He rubbed elbows daily with such great names as Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen, W. C. Fields, and James Cagney as well as leading agents, directors and producers. Since Smith and non-conformity have always been a devastatingly funny combination, his misadventures in movieland, as well as his views about whoever or whatever captured his attention, rate top billing in the annals of the human comedy.
Lost in the Horse Latitudes and his similar two books were widely circulated around the world in Armed Services Editions during WW II. Their popularity kept Smith on the New York Herald Tribune's Best Seller List for 100 weeks.