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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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The Best American Travel Writing 2012 Paperback – October 2, 2012

3.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Bold and questing writer and world traveler Vollmann is at the helm of the thirteenth edition of this superb travel annual, which has always been distinguished by its stellar guest editors. Guided by his unceasing curiosity about complex places and authentic voices, Vollmann has chosen 19 electrifying essays originally published in the Believer, Ecotone, Virginia Quarterly Review, and even a travel zine as well as such perennial sources as Harper’s and National Geographic. Reaching from Timbuktu to Vietnam to Bulgaria, the collection begins with Monte Reel’s immersion in Victorian “how-to-explore books,” a revelatory genre meant to teach “the acquired art of paying attention,” which is practiced to perfection by each contributor. Henry Shukman’s riveting account of his “atomic safari” in Chernobyl feels like a postapocalyptic sf novel. Iraq veteran and journalist Elliott D. Woods charts the volatile dynamics of Cairo’s Garbage City. Thomas Swick profiles Sicilians who are courageously standing up to the Mafia, while Robin Kirk reports on “dark tourism” in Belfast. Closer to home, Kimberly Meyer visits the “rusty red granite replica of ancient Jerusalem” in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains, and Luke Dittrich walks the U.S.-Mexico border. Vollmann’s “best” assemblage profoundly extends the reach of the ever-vital and enlightening art of travel writing. --Donna Seaman

Review

"Bold and questing writer and world traveler Vollmann is at the helm of the thirteenth edition of this superb travel annual, which has always been distinguished by its stellar guest editors. Guided by his unceasing curiosity about complex places and authentic voices, Vollmann has chosen 19 electrifying essays...Vollmann’s 'best' assemblage profoundly extends the reach of the ever-vital and enlightening art of travel writing."
-Booklist  (starred)

"The latest intriguing batch of travel writing from the venerable series. [T]hese stories...undoubtedly bring a taste of adventure to readers...they open a window onto the strange, seedy and beautiful in the world, offering readers glimpses into places that many will never see or experience except through the eyes and words of these writers. Mostly engaging, diverse tales of offbeat travel adventures."
-Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Best American
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 2012 ed. edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547808976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547808970
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been a long time reader of this annual collection of travel stories. Each one has had a different viewpoint that is shaped by the editors that change each year. Some have been better than others. I give this collection a solid B+. The stories are well chosen and the writing is solid.
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The longest story in the collection is an endlessly detailed and boring piece about a fair that has nothing to do with travel. At least a third to half of the stories were only marginally about travel. There was only one that was in any way exciting, and even that had the excitement happening to other than the author. Very dissappointing, except for one or two pieces, including the one by Pico Iyer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since the beginning I've been a fan of the Best American Travel Series which has kept me
entertained on many a cold, wintery evening. This year the stories are more enjoyable than ever even if some are as dark as a December night. It's unfortunate that "How to Explore Like a Real Victorian Adventurer" is the first piece as it is the weakest. It did challenge me, though, to take time to look closer at the
world around me but to the uninitiated it could be off-putting. I'm hard pressed to
pick a favorite. "My Days with the Anti-Mafia" fed my facinaction with the underworld. And who wouldn't want to spend time in the City of Lights after reading
"Letter from Paris"? I was amazed that anybody would want to take on such a dangerous
journey as in "Walking the Border." Adverturers and arm-chair travelers alike
can rest aussured they won't be disappointed with the latest edition of the Best
Travel series.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A collection of travel essays written by a group of male travel authors. I guess women had nothing important to offer this year. I found a lot of these essays hit and miss, as the essays weren't traditional travel narratives by any means. Nevertheless, there were some key pieces that stand out in my mind. My favorites were:

Henry Shukman's Chernobyl, My Primeval, Teeming, Irradiated Eden - A rich tale of a modern-day Chernobyl and its decline into an ancient garden of oddities.

Elliot D. Woods Garbage City - The story of a group of people called the Zabbaleens, who have worked as Cairo's informal garbage collectors for the past 70 to 80 years. They support themselves by going from door to door to collect trash for no charge. They recycle up to 80 percent of what they collect by using their pigs to eat all the organic trash. Everything else is reused and recycled.

Robin Kirk's City of Walls - A terrific read on Northern Ireland and the IRA. I read this essay out loud to my husband while we were road-tripping and we were both fascinated with the history behind the piece.

Pico Iyer's Maximum India - Exloring Varanasi, the City of the Dead, in India. Located on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation.

Luke Dittrich's Walking the Border - A hike along the US-Mexican border. What a great idea for a story!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I have not read this series from other years but this collection kept me entertained all winter. These are thoughtful, literary, haunting essays that illuminate the spirit of the places the writers traveled to. They reveal the history, struggles, and humanity of people in a particular place in time. The collection would be excellent for those interested in learning to write travel writing or teaching travel writing, as it offers a variety of literary approaches that gets beyond “what I did in Italy last summer.” My favorites are:

Pico Iyer’s Maximum India: The most poetic piece in the collection, it uses language to convey the swirling, spiritual, decrepit, intoxicating, pluralistic madness that is Varanasi. You feel drawn into the hypnotic flow of the city.

Luke Dittrich’s Walking the Border: Describes a journey walking along the US/Mexican border, along the way revealing the tensions between two neighboring nations and the many dangerous journeys made by those attempting to cross the border.

Henry Shukman’s Chernobyl, My Primeval, Teeming, Irradiated Eden: A fascinating look at an ecological disaster site that has become a wilderness refuge for wildlife and home to the people who have claimed it and work on it.

J Malcolm Garcia’s Now Ye Know Who the Bosses Are Here Now: Takes a deep look at the IRA regime in Ireland through the stories of teenagers and their families impacted by violence.

Other reviewers have mentioned the dearth of women in this collection and the “darkness” of the subject matter. Many of these journeys seem like ones that would be difficult for a woman to undertake, as they go to dangerous, far off places.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating collection of travel writing including a story about "how to" guides for Victorian explorers; tourism under the shadow of terrorism in Timbuktu; a hiker who decides to hike the entire US / Mexico border; and a long essay by an Oregonian who likes to hop freight trains and publishes a 'zine about it. Also - did you know there are tours of the Chernobyl area? Well, there are - sort of a science fiction landscape from the sound of it. Edited by William Vollmann, a transcendent travel writer himself (although he has no pieces in this collection). This was a terrific book for a long airplane trip.
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