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Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World [Kindle Edition]

Seth Stevenson
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.69
You Save: $4.31 (29%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

An eye-opening and fascinating journey from an acclaimed travel writer who circled the globe without ever leaving the ground.

In this age of globalism and high-speed travel, Seth Stevenson, the witty, thoughtful Slate travel columnist, takes us back to a time when travel meant putting one foot in front of the other, racing to make connections between trains and buses in remote transit stations, and wading through the chaos that most long-haul travelers float 35,000 feet above. Stevenson winds his way around the world by biking, walking, hiking, riding in rickshaws, freight ships, cruise ships, ancient ferries, buses, and the Trans-Siberian Railway-but never gets on an airplane.

He finds that from the ground, one sees the world anew-with a deeper understanding of time, distance, and the vastness of the earth. In this sensational travelogue, each step of the journey is an adventure, full of unexpected revelations in every new port, at every bend in the railroad tracks, and around every street corner.



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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Anyone familiar with Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days will already know the basic premise of Stephenson’s book: an around-the-world voyage in which we visit strange lands, meet unusual people, and have interesting adventures. Unlike Phileas Fogg, however, Stevenson and his traveling companion (his girlfriend, Rebecca) have no deadline: they can take as long as they want to make their way around the globe. But, like Fogg, they intend to stay earthbound the entire time (his balloon trip wasn’t on the original agenda), eschewing airplanes for cargo freighters, buses, bicycles, and other terrestrial forms of transportation. It’s a very entertaining story, told in a spirited, engaging style (the author is an experienced travel writer). While falling in the very contemporary category of “extreme travel,” this entertaining account manages to combine a hip modern approach with a charming nostalgic feel. A must for armchair travelers. --David Pitt

Review

While falling in the very contemporary category of "extreme travel," this entertaining account manages to combine a hip modern approach with a charming nostalgic feel. A must for armchair travelers. --Booklist

Stevenson's writing is full of charm and humor... In an age when everything has to be done yesterday, it's nice to know that there are still people wandering the globe who feel that getting somewhere could be more than half the fun. --Library Journal

Product Details

  • File Size: 849 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594484422
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (April 6, 2010)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030DHPB6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,799 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up because I love both traveling and reading about travel. The premise seemed excellent - "let's travel around the world without once setting foot on an airplane." As someone who flies a lot, I can understand the motivation.

At first I was intrigued by the nuances of alternative travel...how does one book passage on an ocean-going freighter??? These insights were interesting at first.

I didn't get a real sense of the wanderlust of the author and his mate, but rather got a sense that the motivation was...hey I have an idea for a book, let's use that as an excuse to travel.

No problem with that, until they get out on their adventure and set out to be the most anti-Will Rogers types I've come across in a long time. The author and his girlfirend set out to demonstrate that they never met a man (woman) they ever liked!

Much of the book is Mr. Stevenson attempting to demonstrate his humor and wit by denigrating everyone he meets. He & his mate make fun of the Russian girl announcing over the speaker on the Estonian ferry that a face-painting activity is about to begin - hilarious! Here's a fellow from the U.S., who more than likely doesn't speak Russian or Estonian, making fun of an employee offering a fun activity to children, and respite to their parents, in English. This is just the beginning, as he has insulting descriptions of everyone he meets...on Russian trains, on buses, on cruise ships ("assist me in ridiculing these fogeys" p.218 - even while accepting their hospitality). This author has a snarky attitude which I am certain he believes is clever and witty.

It's humorous to Google him and find him writing an article for Slate in 2006 discussing the "mean-spirited" Apple ad...
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Seth Stevenson and his wife Rebecca are horrendous travellers.

This may seem like a stern judgment, but when you write an entire hackneyed, vapid book about your empty sneering travels, around the globe without an airplane (gasp!) -- you pretty much write about yourself, and invite judgment, or about people, culture, art, conversation, the world, and invite wonder.

He made the wrong choice. One gets the sense, reading this book, that the author and his wife have exactly zero ability to engage in or record interesting conversations with people they meet. They do not elicit interaction. They chunk down their world tour in great bites of sitting in trains and ferries. They never move much beyond the quotidian, drinking with various other travelers. They offer no insights, no percipient commentary on the world.

On this journey, the star couple are bruited about like a couple of suitcases, moved along the longitudes of the world higgledy-piggledy. You get the sense that the author NEVER has an interesting conversation to offer fellow travelers, that he is sort of taciturn. You get an NPR sense of sneering self-satisfaction.

At one point he is proud to be mistaken for a native German, and to have avoided white socks and shorts, being seen as a north american. Yet he is oblivious to the fact that he cannot speak the language, and that his worldliness is a matter of dressing himself in the right costume.

At one point, he notes that there sure are a lot of containers moving on the container ships of the world.

At one point, in order to keep his lame "no airplanes" rule, he leaves his wife behind and forces her to take an airplane to catch up. Charming, IF you admire the goal and the man.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Somehow not that interesting May 10, 2010
Format:Paperback
I read this book while on a long-haul flight, and the author rambling along about why he dislikes modern air travel got me hooked. However, apart from the fact that a young couple without financial problems (locating the closest ATM seems to be the major thrill here) travels round the globe, there doesn't happen much. A pre-booked cycling tour of Vietnam, a ride on Japan's high speed train or a trip on a luxury cruiseship? Ordinary hotel rooms and a rent-a-car trip across Australia? I had expected a little more adventure!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
There are many kind of travel books. Some describe the locations visited, some the people, some the internal soul-searching of the traveler, or often it's a combination of the above.

Grounded is a bit different - the travelogue is about the experience of using various methods of transportation excluding the airplane. I enjoyed reading how it is to be a week on a freighter (often lonely!) or being on trains for several days (smelly!). I also liked that the author used a combination of means of transportation including the bicycle, and going both as an individual and, one time in Vietnam, as part of a group.

Some reviewers criticize that Stevenson did not spend more time at certain destinations - while I agree that it is kind of stupid not to see the Chinese Wall while in Beijing, for example, I cannot fault the author for not doing so. Every traveler has his or her interest - for some, it might be cultural sites, or sports, food, or nature for others. Just because I would have visited the Great Wall when in Beijing does not mean you would or should.

In terms of style, I found the humor of the author quite compelling and not condescending; Stevenson makes a lot of fun of himself and his girlfriend as well as of others they meet. His writing is honest because every traveler has impressions of countries and people, good and bad. I liked the fact that Stevenson is not always "political correct", but says it how he saw it. Kudos also for making some thought stimulating comparisons between modern and pleasant travel abroad, i.e., European or Japanese fast trains, and the sad joke of Amtrak's "fast trains" at home.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Easy read, not the most inspiring story and comes from a one-sided viewpoint
Published 18 days ago by Vinod Viswalingam
1.0 out of 5 stars Written by a self-indulgent arrogant ignorant author who insults other...
I am an avid traveler and was excited to pick up what supposed to be a traveling book. The writing style is dull, boring, offensive; there are a lot of wrong misinterpretations and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by hb123
2.0 out of 5 stars Why travel if you're going to express your distaste for other...
The premise of this book -- the author and his girlfriend set out to quasi-circumnavigate the globe without boarding any airplanes -- intrigued me. Read more
Published 8 months ago by lenkajekaterina
5.0 out of 5 stars Great journey
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well-written, thought-provoking, entertaining. A real page-turner for me. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. K. Fusaris
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener!
Great book. A must for every traveller. Mr. Stevenson honestly nailed in words the traveller's thirst, and very simply put forth his great adventure around the globe. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Juana Sanchez-Presas
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic is Getting There -- Not Always the Destination Itself
Great writing style and excellent observations. You'll enjoy it if you like people watching, and the actual travel experience. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Non PC
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing tour
An amazing tour of the world, from famous to obscure places. The best part being the journey itself and the hidden means of transport all around us.
Published 21 months ago by Jared D. Cantor
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive and very funny!
Forget all the naysayers out there in some of the other reviews! I found this travelogue highly interesting and absorbing in both the descriptions of all of the exotic locations... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Tim Lee
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading
I thought this book was an interesting read. I enjoyed reading the adventures of the author and his girlfriend, Rebecca. Read more
Published on November 30, 2012 by Harmony
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
An interesting travel story. It's quite something to make it traveling around the world without using a plane. Read more
Published on August 26, 2012 by J K
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More About the Author

I'm a contributing writer for Slate. My work has also appeared in the New York Times, New York, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and other wonderful (and less wonderful, and in some cases defunct) publications. I've received multiple Lowell Thomas awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, been excerpted three times in the Best American Travel Writing series, was nominated for a Digital National Magazine Award, and won the 2005 Online Journalism Award for commentary. I grew up in Brookline, Mass., graduated from Brown University and the Columbia Journalism School, and live in New York.

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