Top positive review
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An expansive, enthralling, highly-competent work of third world travel literature
on December 24, 2015
A deep, detailed, analytical journal of a truly monumental trek across a disjointed swath of Africa and Asia in the early 1990s. Part travelogue, part journalistic report, part history lesson, part political/demographic analysis/forecast, this is a very well-rounded and multi-faceted work of travel literature, all presented in extremely well-written, concise, and evocative language.
Most impressive to me were the remarkably articulate accounts of the author's personal experiences, impressions, and observations while traveling through some of the most challenging places on Earth. These passages often evoked in me the swelling and intoxicating highs of the wonder, discovery, and mind/soul-expanding effects such travel brings...and, on the flip side, the discomfort, anxiety, and risks that come with visiting such places, which, while being experienced can be unpleasant in the extreme, in retrospect often become key aspects of the journey.
The author doesn't waste any words. The amount of detail and information packed into these 440+ pages is overwhelming and frustratingly impossible to fully absorb, but even if a few bits and factoids manage to stick, it's a valuable endeavor. For me, I'm left less with all the specifics and minutiae (of which there is a lot here) and more with an overall sense of these places, how they compare and how they differ. The author does a very good job capturing the essence and "feel" of each new place and region he transitions into, weaving them all into a coherent, flowing narrative. I found it an extremely engaging read and a valuable insight into places I dream of one day having the opportunity to see and experience for myself.
In short, a truly impressive and expansive work of travel writing, giving an in-depth glimpse into, and overview of, a slew of important and fascinating lands many of us will unfortunately never get to experience for ourselves.
(Countries visited and documented in this book are: Ivory Coast, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo, Ghana, Egypt, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.)