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The Best American Travel Writing 2000 Paperback – October 26, 2000

ISBN-13: 004-6442074674 ISBN-10: 0618074678 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Best American
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; First Edition edition (October 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618074678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618074679
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #968,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The world may be getting smaller, but that doesn't mean it's any less varied, surprising, or exotic--as is made evident by the 25 essays collected in the inaugural edition of the Best American Travel Writing series. In search of America's sharpest, most original, and often, most curious travel writers, editor Bill Bryson and series editor Jason Wilson sifted through hundreds of stories. What the resulting collection demonstrates is that, as Wilson writes, travel stories matter:
Having a travel writer report on particular things, small things, the specific ways in which people act and interact, is perhaps our best way of getting beyond the clichés that we tell each other about different places and cultures, and about ourselves.
And, as Bryson notes, many of the freshest voices are being drawn to foreign subjects far beyond the trampled paths of tourism. Within these pages, they chart the world from Nantucket to Zanzibar, the Atlas Mountains of Morocco to Australia's Cape York Peninsula with originality and keen observation. Some even go where none would follow: drawn by the allure of danger zones, Patrick Symmes rides a dirt bike to "perhaps the most forbidden city in the world" in search of the Khmer Rouge. Tim Cahill describes his own personal journey in hell--11 long days on a barge on the Ubangi River with 3,000 people packed so close together it's impossible to move without apologizing. (Fortunately, he's befriended by a man named God who is always in the know.)

Distance is not a prerequisite for travel writing, though humor is invaluable, as Bill Buford shows in his attempt to do what you just don't do--spend the night in Central Park. When Dave Eggers discovers hitchhiking is what makes Cuba move, it becomes the point of his trip to "pick up and move people, from here to there." Tongue in cheek, he declares, "So easy to change the quality, the very direction, of Cubans' lives!" Then again, sometimes humor is just not appropriate, particularly if you've been kidnapped by Ugandan rebels (as was Mark Ross) or you're trying to help the Dalai Lama choose the next Panchen Lama without jeopardizing lives (as did Isabel Hilton). In any case, it's all happening here--golf in Greenland, cheese smuggling from France, even a ride with the Toughest Truck Driver in the World. This collection proves that travel writing is a genre whose time has come. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

HThe travelers Bryson (In a Sunburned Country) and Wilson (a travel writer) have collected here aren't the high-adrenaline survivor sort so popular these days. What these writers all share is a love of a place, a moment, a people (okay, David Halberstam bemoans the influx of nouveau riches to his precious Nantucket). Culled from the expected travel magazines, plus a couple of more unlikely sources (Coffee Journal), these highly personal accounts represent the best of the best (an appendix lists the many runners-up). From Bill Buford's plan to sleep overnight in Central Park to Dave Eggers's memories of picking up hitchhikers in Cuba; from Tom Clynes's ride through the Outback with "The Toughest Trucker in the World" to Mark Ross's harrowing tale of being kidnapped by rebels in Uganda, every one of these short pieces spins everyday details into memorable life. On the lighter side, Clive Irving rhapsodizes about "The First Drink of the Day" and David Lansing offers the educational "Confessions of a Cheese Smuggler." As Wilson points out in his entertaining foreword, we've all written about "What I Did on My Summer Vacation." These writers have raised that to an art; all of these tales remind us of how amazing the world truly is. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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All in all, a fine collection of essays.
Gin
Written very well and full of humor, the essay provides good insight into African culture, but I felt the author was a bit degrading toward the people.
Ignatious Valve
Overall, if you love collected writings (some don't) and travel (which, oddly enough, some don't), you will enjoy this book.
Caitlin P. Rothermel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin P. Rothermel on November 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I bought this book to get a better idea of what is considered the best in travel writing...and looking back I don't think I was considering it a serious genre, but was rather expecting the sort of self-indulgent, tourist-oriented, glamorized type of article you might find in the average Conde Nast publication. But, with the exception of a few articles (conveniently located at the very end of the book), this collection was terrific. I may not get the titles completely right, but my favorites ranged between cheerful & sweet (Lard is Good for You), detailed and entertaining (night in Central Park), delightfully alcoholic (9am drinking in France), investigative and fascinating (politics in tibet), anthropologically rewarding (the area 50 km outside of Moscow), to downright harrowing (The Last Safari). I'm not going to rave about every piece, because some were too wide-ranging and unfocused for me, and several contributors seemed to have acquired an interest in 'protecting the environment,' but little information about what that actually means.
Overall, if you love collected writings (some don't) and travel (which, oddly enough, some don't), you will enjoy this book. I'm already looking forward to next year's.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Geller on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
The title is right: this is some of the best travel writing I have encountered.
It's a collection of short stories, with travel as a common theme. Few are what I'd call tourist guides.
Some of the first few stories stories are about sailboat racing, surviving a night in New York's Central Park, bus riding in Uganda, trucking in tropical Australia, selecting the Panchen Lama, and documentaries about wine and food. There's plenty of variety.
These stories are like good meals: satisfying, pleasant and easy to digest. But they are not lightweight reading. One learns about places and practices that are strange and sometimes disturbing.
It's a book to read in short sessions. I read it at home, in the evenings, but it would be a great to take on a trip.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gin on February 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading this book, I decided I hate travel guides but love travel writing. Travel guides tell you where to go so that you'll run into more pasty, spoiled americans like yourself; travel writing gives you a sense of the land and the people. I loved this collection of essays because it took me to other places and educated me about their history and inhabitants. I learned about the yuppification of Nantucket, the bloody past of Zanzibar, ethnic conflicts in western China, a brutal kidnapping in Uganda, the environmental efforts in Bhutan. Some pieces are frightening; some are humorous. All are enlightening. My only complaint is that I wish more pieces by women had been included -- I would have liked to hear more about the experiences of women in exotic lands. All in all, a fine collection of essays.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Kent St. John on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While the book has a diversity in destinations it has one quality that remains story to story. Vivid discriptions of unique travel experiences. I must agree with Bill Bryson (Editor) when he states that "travel writing is a genre whose time as come". While many of the names are well know, some of the new names in the collection are pulled from magazines not on my usual reading schedule. A mistake I will correct. But for now I have some new places to look for great travel writing. Lard is Good for You is one example. Alden Jones wrote the piece for Coffee Journal, it is something I may never have read but am mighty glad I had a chance.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Cottrell on January 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've always enjoyed Bill Bryson's writing, and I've equally enjoyed the pieces he chose for this collection. My favorites were Dave Eggers' "Hitchhikers Cuba" and "Lard is Good for You" by Alden Jones, set in Cuba and Costa Rica, two countries that I'm even more eager to visit after reading these essays. Funny, entertaining, informative stuff.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 23, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title of this book is THE BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING 2000. OK, ok, so I'm obviously a tad behind on my reading. (I only just recently got around to the fine print on my birth certificate which lists the warranty exclusions.)
"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar that it can be taken for granted."
Perhaps the spirit of the statement is hard to realize nowadays when even Ulan Bator boasts (?) a McDonalds. However, its author, travel writer Bill Bryson, has, as this anthology's editor, pulled together twenty-six tales that will transport the armchair traveler far beyond the well-trod tourist paths. And I say this as one whose wimpy idea of adventure is to dine on a scorching curry in one of London's Balti houses after an afternoon exploring the book stacks at Foyle's.
The only journey in this volume that's personally appealing is the one to Bhutan described by Jessica Maxwell in "Inside the Hidden Kingdom". (That was until I searched the Web for Bhutan tours and was faced with the eye-popping cost of such a trek. Winning the California Lotto will be a pre-requisite, I'm afraid.) Otherwise, scouring France and Spain for the perfect first alcoholic drink of the day, or attending the World Ice Golfing Championship 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Greenland, isn't a trip I'll queue for. Neither is spending the night in the depths of New York's Central Park, searching for the remnants of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia's remote highlands, traveling by donkey into Morocco's Atlas Mountains, picking-up hitchhikers in Cuba, or journeying down the Congo River on an over-crowded, squalid, passenger barge.
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