Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux

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Paul Theroux sets off for Cape Town from Cairo — the hard way.
Travelling across bush and desert, down rivers and across lakes, and through country after country, Theroux visits some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, and some of the most dangerous. It is a journey of discovery and of rediscovery — of the unknown and the unexpected, but also of people and places he knew as a young and optimistic teacher forty years before.
Safari in Swahili simply means “journey”, and this is the ultimate safari. It is Theroux in his element — a trip where chance encounter is everything, where departure and arrival times are an irrelevance, and where contentment can be found balancing on the top of a truck in the middle of nowhere.

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The Pillars Of Hercules: A Grand Tour Of The Mediterranean by Paul Theroux

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At the gateway to the Mediterranean lie the two Pillars of Hercules: Gibraltar and Ceuta, in Morocco. Paul Theroux decided to travel from one to the other – but taking the long way round.
His grand tour of the Mediterranean begins in Gibraltar and takes him through Spain, the French Riviera, Italy, Greece, Istanbul and beyond. He travels by any means necessary – including dilapidated taxi, smoke-filled bus, bicycle and even a cruise-liner. And he encounters bullfights, bazaars and British tourists, discovers pockets of humanity in war-torn Slovenia and Croatia, is astounded by the urban developments on the Costa del Sol and marvels at the ancient wonders of Delphi.
Told with Theroux’s inimitable wit and style, this lively and eventful tour evokes the essence of Mediterranean life.
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Riding The Iron Rooster: By Train Through China by Paul Theroux

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Paul Theroux has always had an extremely sharp eye for detail, and an even sharper pen with which to mold these observations into telling, sometimes ascerbic commentary. In “Riding The Iron Rooster”, Theroux is at the top of his form in capturing the flavor and collective psyche of mainland China during the last quarter of the 20th Century.
One of the more revealing angles put forth in “Iron Rooster” is the face-saving that the Chinese government has engaged in with respect to The Cultural Revolution. Everyone knows that what Mao Tse Tung did was monstrous, but few in China appear willing to own up to the magnitude of the sin in any public way; so half-measures are taken to pay “proper respect” to Mao at just the appropriate place and just the appropriate time.
The author also nicely captures the first wave of pro-capitalist fervor that began engulfing China in the late 80’s. But the core of Theroux’s book, as always, are the vivid snapshots of the customs, foibles and mores that constitute a culture.
Reading “Iron Rooster” as I boarded a plane in Hong Kong in 1994, I discovered I was about to experience, first-hand, the aeronautical and social turbulence that the author ascribed to Chinese plane travel. By the time I landed in Guangxi Province, all of his observations had been confirmed.
“Riding The Iron Rooster” is vintage Theroux – insightful, droll, always pleasurable.
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