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Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for Women Who Are Changing the World Paperback – October 31, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Morris, in partnership with her mother, produced a PBS documentary series meant to empower women by traveling to exotic locales and seeking out "divas": women creating positive change in their societies through passionate and often convention-defying actions. Among her subjects: the first female beat cop in India, who later reformed the prison system; an Iranian publisher of a feminist magazine fighting strict censorship laws; and a pop star who rocked New Zealand's cultural divides. With these women as the focus, Morris and her crew provide novel and extensive explorations of different cultures. Despite the author's objective to avoid reinforcing stereotypes, she does occasionally stumble on her own biases. For instance, her aversion to organized religion clearly colors her translation of cultures heavy with holy history. Morris's writing is clean, rhythmic and full of both storytelling flair and journalistic pragmatism. The story of the spunky project itself, from the obstacles overcome while producing an independent documentary series to Morris's adventures along the way (she takes on a side job hosting another travel show, eats with Malaysian headhunters, climbs Switzerland's Matterhorn and rides through the Sahara Desert on camelback), is as inspiring as the divas themselves. B&w photos, illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

This is not just about travel, although it's as adventurous as can be. More than that, it's Morris' account of leaving her deskbound publishing job and joining her broadcaster mother to form Adventure Divas to track down "unsung visionaries," women who changed the world in Cuba, India, New, Zealand, and Iran, for what became an award-winning PBS series. (Between diva searches, to replenish company coffers, Morris takes jobs hunting headhunters in Borneo, climbing the Matterhorn, and crossing the Sahara.) Morris' interviews--with, among others, Black Panther exile Assata Shakur in Cuba; top cop Kiran Bedi in India; author Keri Hulme, who wrote Morris' beloved The Bone People, in New Zealand; and blind folksinger Pari Zanganeh, who wears a hat instead of a veil, in Iran--are thoughtful and probing, revealing the differences between their lives and those of American women. Her text adds context--and humor--to the project, warts and all (blank film in India, hotel fire in New Zealand). A good bet for feminists, fans of the PBS shows, adventure travelers, and anyone who wants a good read. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375760636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375760631
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Holly Morris' essays are widely anthologized, and she is a regular critic for The New York Times Book Review and contributor to many national publications. She is the former editorial director of the book publishing company Seal Press, and is an alum and board member of the Hedgebrook writers' residency. Her book Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine, was named an "Editors' Choice" and a "Notable Book of the Year" about exploration by the New York Times. She is the editor of the anthologies A Different Angle and Uncommon Waters.

Morris is also a documentary television producer and correspondent. She is the executive producer/writer/director of the award-winning prime-time PBS documentary series, "Adventure Divas," and host of the series' "Globe Trekkers," (PBS) (aka Pilot Guides), "Treks in a Wild World," (PBS) and "Outdoor Investigations" (OLN). She was a special correspondent for the National Geographic Channel's "Today" show and a columnist for "National Geographic Adventure."

More about Holly and Adventure Divas can be found at www.hollymorris.com and www.adventuredivas.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Adventure Divas" epitomizes a certain expression I'm very familiar with professionally: "Plans are what you make on the way to what happens." What happens "on the way" to Holly Morris and her crew is hilarious, gutsy, and crammed with challenges that never deter this determined young author. Her readers - soon to be a loyal, enthralled legion - will appreciate Morris's infinite curiosity, her insightfulness and full-speed-ahead attitude as well as her willingness to volunteer herself for uncomfortable (her exposure to leeches is unforgettable) and downright dangerous situations. Everyone gets a peek into the lives and psyches of remarkable women from around the world. Their cultures include locales many armchair travelers are unlikely to visit. Morris's intimate writing style, her willingness to share her fears, frustrations, and joy lets the reader celebrate along side her as she locates and interviews her Divas.

For me? I felt I was reading the travel diary of a treasured friend. Biggest thrill? That camel race Morris entered without a second thought in Niger's Sahara. That was the "nutgrab" for me (let her describe her "nutgrab" image); quintessentially Holly: gutsy, competitive, and at times impulsive. She started her personal camel Derby with the cry, "I want to win," which all-too-rapidly became "I want to live!" As the first woman ever to enter a Tuareg camel race, Holly came in second (to last).

Her recorded exploits have inspired me to plan a Diva journey of my own. Her website: [...] is a wonderful resource for planning your Diva trip. When you read this delightful book yourself, don't be surprised if by the end you're not glancing longingly at your own knapsack....and preparing to embark on your very own Diva Adventure. Sharon Bordeau,LCSW, NY
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Format: Hardcover
Okay, this book was our last book club read. Three of our seven members did a quick review below (we're going to do it after each read). Opinions may differ, but I think you'll get the idea. The synopsis, in a nutshell: the author, bored with her day job and hankering for a little TV celebrity/adventure, asked her mom (a PBS producer) to help put together a show about feminists around the world. She travels to India, New Zealand, Borneo, etc., joins a wild camel race in Niger, gets her period, finds deeper meaning in pubic hair and offers various other insights into womens' lives in other countries. WARNING: we read this book on the heels of "Reading Lolita in Tehran" (both books address similar themes) and unfortunately, Lolita is a tough act to follow:

STACY: I was a little disappointed. After "Reading Lolita," which really describes in horrifying detail the outright represssion women have to live under in a very personal way, these stories just sort of skimmed the surface and don't really go deep. I liked the author's chutzpah in producing her tv project, but the fact that her mother was already a producer for PBS sort of mitigated the whole "self-reinvention/chuck your day job" for me. 3 stars.

BEN: Yes, I am the ONLY male member of this group so pity me please guys-- this is the third feminist book I've had to read this year and no I don't do this to pick up chicks. I get the next selection and it's definitely going to be Norman Mailer. Some of the stories are funny, but the whole book is a little incosistent. The authors talent lies in describing her own personal adventures, but the historical stuff just bored me and I skipped these sections. I also agree with Stacy.
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Format: Hardcover
Many people dream of breaking the corporate shackle to roam the world. Few have the guts to actually do it. Thankfully, Holly Morris took that leap of faith. And lucky for us, she's not keeping her adventures to herself.

Often, travel memoirs flip-flop between worshiping and ridiculing what seems exotic. Worse, if the writer left home base to escape "issues," the book turns into a thinly disguised journal that inevitably ends with some forced bang of a catharsis. Adventure Divas is REFRESHINGLY DIFFERENT. This account of Morris's journey in quitting her desk job to create a documentary TV series about "divas"--or women who are taking groundbreaking steps to create positive changes in their societies--is awe-inspiring.

Geared with an unyielding sense of curiosity and a genuine desire to learn, Morris treks to far-flung locations--including India, Iran, and Cuba. She is observant, and navigates her way with determination. She makes a conscious effort to be respectful of her hosts' cultures. Yet, Morris is only human and makes some odd choices at times. What makes her so endearing to readers is that she has the courage to own up to mistakes--she can poke fun of herself with the most unbelievably explosive humor. The result: Each destination (or diva) that Morris leads readers to turns into a highly thoughtful and insightful probe into local culture, politics, and (simply, yet most importantly)...how to be human.

It's a treat to observe the gears in Morris's loopy and highly intelligent brain at work. What spews forth is a voice that sparkles with a unique blend of soul, wisdom, and the kind of ingenious goofiness that leaves you thinking: "How did she come up with that?" Adventure Divas is an eye-opening, thought-provoking, and thoroughly engaging book.
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