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Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World Paperback – April 6, 2010
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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...Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Grounded is a bit different - the travelogue is about the experience of using various methods of transportation excluding the airplane. I enjoyed reading how it is to be a week on a freighter (often lonely!) or being on trains for several days (smelly!). I also liked that the author used a combination of means of transportation including the bicycle, and going both as an individual and, one time in Vietnam, as part of a group.
Some reviewers criticize that Stevenson did not spend more time at certain destinations - while I agree that it is kind of stupid not to see the Chinese Wall while in Beijing, for example, I cannot fault the author for not doing so. Every traveler has his or her interest - for some, it might be cultural sites, or sports, food, or nature for others. Just because I would have visited the Great Wall when in Beijing does not mean you would or should.
In terms of style, I found the humor of the author quite compelling and not condescending; Stevenson makes a lot of fun of himself and his girlfriend as well as of others they meet. His writing is honest because every traveler has impressions of countries and people, good and bad. I liked the fact that Stevenson is not always "political correct", but says it how he saw it. Kudos also for making some thought stimulating comparisons between modern and pleasant travel abroad, i.e., European or Japanese fast trains, and the sad joke of Amtrak's "fast trains" at home.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OK book....A lot of readers will say: Too bad Seth Stevenson is an anti-Libertarian bigot who thinks Libertarians like Lowell Thomas are loons (though he's happy to take an award... Read morePublished 1 month ago by I'm no expert, yet...
I love travelogues and since my travel days are pretty much done, I thrill at going places vicariously with these writers. So I was excited to read this book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Cindyash
If you've ever wondered what it was like for two questionably sane Americans to schlep around the world, here's your answer. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Walter Nissen
Part travelogue and part treatise on travel. The writing is descriptive and humorous and sometimes philosophical. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Cindy Blackshear
This is one of the best travel / backpacking book I've every read. I put all aspects of world travel in perspective for the first-timer or experienced traveler. A true must-read.Published 16 months ago by Humberto Buniotto
I live in Washington, DC and I am probably experiencing the type of life this couple had before their trip. Read morePublished 17 months ago by B. Robertson
Easy read, not the most inspiring story and comes from a one-sided viewpointPublished 17 months ago by Vinod Viswalingam
I am an avid traveler and was excited to pick up what supposed to be a traveling book. The writing style is dull, boring, offensive; there are a lot of wrong misinterpretations and... Read morePublished 19 months ago by hb123
The premise of this book -- the author and his girlfriend set out to quasi-circumnavigate the globe without boarding any airplanes -- intrigued me. Read morePublished on July 15, 2014 by lenkajekaterina