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Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail From Istanbul to India Paperback – January 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Travel writer MacLean (Stalin's Nose, Falling for Icarus) retraces the infamous hippie trail trod by fun seekers, drug seekers and seekers of fulfillment and enlightenment in the 1960s and '70s, when Afghanistan was unknown except maybe to readers of Kipling, the Shah ruled Iran and the Khyber Pass was, well, passable. Dubbing these travelers "The Intrepids", MacLean tracks the history of the trail. Starting out in Istanbul, MacLean meets Penny, one of the original travelers, who, pushing seventy, is still floating about the east in beads and feathers, spewing memories of her sex life and speaking of karma. MacLean does a fine job finding journalists and local people who remember the hippies and their impact on both the economy and the sensibility of the places they passed through. His sometimes romantic vision of the seekers aside, MacLean makes a sincere effort to understand why the trip was so seductive and important historically. Interactions with people along the way and his references to the music of the trail are delightful, and while the writing can seem overly sentimental in the early pages, MacLean hits his stride quickly; making his way through dangerous and hostile Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan brings out his finest writing. Travelers of all kinds, including the armchair variety, will relish the work and love MacLean has put into his latest.
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Utterly absorbing; if you read only one travel book this year, this should be it -- Alexander Frater, author of * Chasing the Monsoon * A disturbing, gripping and intensely passionate story * Esther Freud * Rory MacLean is one of the most strikingly original and talented travel writers of his generation -- Katie Hickman, author of * Courtesans * A disturbing, gripping and intensely passionate story * Esther Freud * --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
I will come to Mr. MacLean's defence for the criticism that it really does not delve much into the incidents and life of the trekkers of old. Upon reading the book, he seems to intentionally focus on the present. It is as though the intrepids of the 60s and 70s were merely ghosts which haunt these areas. I admit that the cover and marketing of the book is misleading in this regard, but these are shortcomings of the marketing department and not the author.
However there were many things that I did not care for in the book. Typical commercial style is to start each chapter with a "hook". The purpose of which is to grab people's attention when they are browsing a bookstore. This is derived from the universal tendency of shoppers to start reading from the beginning of a chapter, usually the first chapter. However for some reason, Mr. MacLean chose to start each chapter with a few paragraphs of purple prose. This prose was so awkward and impenetrable that I frequently had to read it two to three times just to figure out what he was trying to say. I am sorry to say that this does not sound like an effective "hook" to me.
The biggest deficiency is in the large number of errors that I encountered. I noticed them mainly in the Indian section. This was because I lived for many years in India during the 1970s. I did not notice them in other sections, because I have never lived there. But if the same rate of errors is extrapolated to the rest of the book, then the accuracy of this work is highly questionable. The curious thing is that these were very simple errors which could have been caught simply by spending some time on the internet.
There was another area that I found a bit disconcerting. A number of characters seemed to be "composites". Now there is nothing wrong with composites per se. In narrative journalism this is a required way to keep the number of characters down to a manageable and readable level. But proper journalistic ethics requires that the reader be informed of this in the preface.
The slipshod way in which factual errors were made, combined with the unwillingness to discuss composite characters sends a very strong signal. The accuracy of this book is very questionable and every "fact" must be considered suspect.
Most recent customer reviews
First, I found it coherently and accessibly written, with a fluent prose that varied between romantic and whimsical.Read more