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The Best Travel Writing 2007: True Stories from Around the World Paperback – February 7, 2007
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"Machetes are like Central American Visa Cards--nobody leaves home without one. They're everywhere. the machete is part of the Central American male identity. the machete is the Swiss Army knife on steriods, practicality manifest, the solution to every problem by which an American is rarely confronted: need to hack a path through the jungle? Open a coconut? Kill a deadly reptile? the answer is a shining silver blade." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
James O'Reilly, president and publisher of Travelers' Tales, was born in England and Raised in San Francisco. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1975 and wrote mystery serials before becoming a travel writer in the early 1980s. He's visited more than forty countries, along the way meditating with monks in Tibet, participating in West African voodoo rituals, living in the French Alps, and hanging out the laundry with nuns in Florence. He travels extensively with his wife, Wenda, and their three daughters. Larry Habegger, executive editor of Travelers' Tales, has been writing about travel since 1980. He has visited almost fifty countries and six of the seven continents, traveling from the frozen Arctic to equatorial rain forest, the high Himalayas to the Dead Sea. In the early 1980s he co-authored mystery serials for the San Francisco Examiner with James O'Reilly, and since 1985 their syndicated column, "World Travel Watch," has appeared in newspapers in five countries and on WorldTravelWatch.com. As series editors of Travelers' Tales, they have worked on some ninety titles, winning many awards for excellence. Habegger regularly teaches the craft of travel writing at workshops and writers conferences, and he lives with his family on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco.
Sean O'Reilly is director of special sales and editor-at-large for Travelers' Tales. He is a former seminarian, stockbroker, and prison instructor with a degree in Psychology. Author of the groundbreaking book on men's behavior, How to Manage Your DICK, he is also the inventor of a safety device known as Johnny Upright. Widely traveled, he most recently completed a journey through China, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. He lives in Virginia with his wife and six children.
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There used to be a lot of traveling for me. Lately, however, the office has taken its hold, and I travel little more than the daily commute. Soon, I hope I'll have the chance to experience firsthand the range of emotions, floods of memories, and calls to adventure that this book so commandfully flushes from the soul...
I couldn't help but feel a kinship in "Walking the Kerry Way" with the author's misty trek through the backwoods of Kerry. My father and I recently navigated this homeland of our ancestors that we try to call our own. So much green to help one think... Thank you for a beautiful picture, Tim O'Reilly.
The stories' allusions to Japan also have me fighting the melancholy longing that gainful employment in Los Angeles can induce in the would-be traveler. But when the busy rush of life allows, I treat myself to another of these happy, wistful, beautiful memories recorded by the many fine authors. I know that I'll be out there again, sometime, quelling my building wanderlust.
Its first story is my favorite so far. Patrick Fitzhugh is an amazing author. I'd never been to Central America before, but his handiwork had me convulsing with laughter, and then sadly wishing that I could go "back" to Costa Rica. Yuri is an incredible character! I love that this is a gTrue Storyh! Someone, help me find more of Mr. Fitzhugh's work!!
Purchasing this book shouldn't be a matter of personal finance; get it, and read it. It will let you travel, and will remind you of the times you've had, or the times you'd like to have had. Itfs bursting at its seams; it needs you to read it. Everyone should have a chance at these pages.
Simple Evaluation: YES, THIS IS A GOOD BOOK.
I love the whole series, but I've been surprised in the past that the "best of" compilations aren't always (subjectively speaking) actually the best ones. But this one really is, and I highly recommend it.
The finest travelers' tales, of which this contains many, convey the full force of travel. Being a stranger in a strange place, you note and remember much that you'd ignore in your daily life; everything seems more vivid, more memorable. If you're in a particularly different place, perhaps your old life will seem strangely alien, even puny, when reflected upon in a different cultural context. These new people, landscapes, cities, loom so large in your consciousness, it's like being a child all over again.
The best stories in this collection convey those feelings, and many others.
Perhaps because I myself love traveling in SE Asia, I found this collection's pieces on the region to be among the book's best:
One, "The Ghost Road," covers the author's attempt to find the Burmese section of the old Stilwell road. The reader feels the cultural exoticism of the place, and also the spookiness of trying to outwit an authoritarian, nasty government.
"Circuit Broken" is a wonderful capturing of a moment many travelers have experienced; the author is determined to get away from the normal tourist path in Vietnam, and finds herself in a bleak, depressing place. She has an epiphany about the perils of being driven by negative emotions rather than by positive desires.
"Trigger Happy in Cambodia" describes the creepy overtones of the previous genocide that haunts that land still.
But there are plenty of fine pieces in here even for those who aren't, as I am, fascinated by SE Asia. I absolutely loved "Tipping Point in Tikal," for example. Solitary travelers all over the world have had experiences like this one; different people coming together quite accidentally on their respective pilgrimages, the things they share in conversation, the way they observe and remember each other. I still have very clear memories of people I have met in far corners of the globe, each with a different life story, each with a different motivation for travel.
These and other excellent pieces make this collection a fascinating one. The traveler who puts this in her/his backpack and hits the distant road will find it an insightful companion.