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The Great Railway Bazaar Paperback – June 1, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
And it is in description that Theroux's strength lies. He has the ability to make an anecdote seem so real as to make the reader a part of the scene. The pace of the book varies with the stop and start of each journey and I guess every reader will prefer some parts to others. Plus of course, it is a bit jarring when one reads this book today, since the tide of history has greatly changed many of the countries Theroux traversed. Still, culture is slower to change than politics and that keeps much of the book relevant even today.
I've read and enjoyed several of his other rail narratives, including "The Old Patagonian Express" (Central and South America) , "Kingdom by the Sea" (United Kingdom), and "Dark Star Safari" (Africa). I'd start with this one, though, with its wonderful section on Vietnam in the last year of the war and its melancholy voyage across Leonid Brezhnev's sclerotic Soviet Union. As with all good books, it will transport you to places you did not know existed, even in this era of Google Earth. As for those who don't care for Theroux's sometimes cranky persona, well, there are always the twittering ecstasies of Peter Mayle ("A Year in Provence," etc.) or--worse--Frances Mayes ("Under the Tuscan Sun," etc.). Theroux's sojourns will never inspire busloads of tourists or the astronomical appreciation of the local real estate. Once you've read "The Great Railway Bazaar," be sure to follow it up with "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star," his recent (2009) account of his retracing (with some new stops) of the trip he took in the seventies. It's equally compelling, and it illuminates the story of the first trip.
Some may find this book insulting, as it is fairly blunt about the people's idiosyncrasies. I for one do not expect literature to be politically correct (and vice-versa).
While some people consider Paul Theroux to be cynical, I prefer to think of him as a realist who does not feel the need to sugar coat any of his writing.
Part of embracing travel is to deal with the good and the bad,the same as many life experiences.
I feel that the author was a pioneer in his belief that the journey is sometimes more rewarding than the destination itself.
If you've never read any of Paul Theroux's works, you got some great reads to look forward to !
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's fascinating to read this 40 or so years later, but while that part of the world was changing. Very different perspective.Published 2 months ago by Karen Nugent
In his first travel novel, and the book that made him famous, Paul Theroux writs about his four and a half month journey from London to Kyoto and back. Read morePublished 3 months ago
I do not think anybody who likes travel cannot like this. It is superb armchair travel but all true of course and therefore it also provides a very decent window into times past. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Q
He's a top-of-the-line travel writer. He recognizes the small moments that give texture to all the places we the reader have never been.Published 5 months ago by C
The grandfather of all travel literature. Paul Theroux doesn't miss anything on his journey. I will probably physically never get to the places he describes, nor get to know the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Desira Plummer