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Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World Paperback – Bargain Price, April 6, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594484422
  • ASIN: B003YDXD8G
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,753,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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.

Customer Reviews

When reading the book you keep looking for adventure...but it never really comes.
Kirk Alter
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!)
Patrick McCormack
He does not seem to connect with the countries he's visiting nor its culture or people.
Rose Rose

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Patrick McCormack VINE VOICE on August 27, 2010
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 By Martin Stanzeleit on 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 6 people found the following review helpful By Bob Neubauer on May 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read all the other reviews and was surprised at the few negative ones because I found this book enjoyable and illuminating. Granted, the couple did not have adventures at every turn, but I didn't expect them to, while riding cargo ships, for example. However, I learned a lot about life on a cargo ship, crossing an ocean. Seth gave me a good picture of what that would be like. Similarly, I liked his description of life on one of those fancy cruise ships, even if he was somewhat critical of fellow passengers.

What some reviewers have seen as him complaining, I see as him accurately describing deplorable conditions, such as aboard ferries that make no effort to provide comfortable quarters. That sounded so awful. I'm glad he took those rides so I don't have to.

I think this book should not be viewed like other travelogues where the writer did something adventurous, and has many encounters to share. Instead, this is more of a description about what it's like to travel around the world while never leaving the earth. Seth tells the good and bad of this, describing what one would encounter, the modes of transport one would need to take, the difficulty of finding some of those modes, etc. I learned a lot about life in other parts of the world.

I would have liked it if they didn't zip across the US with no real experiences to recount, though. Ditto the outback of Australia. Too bad they had to race across it with no stops.
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