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By this Author: Isadora

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

by Mark Adams

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The Author

Mark Adams is writer and editor, working with some of America's best-known magazines. He has contributed to G.Q., The New York Times Magazine, Fortune and is a contributing editor for National Geographic Adventure. His first book, Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet, received rave reviews upon it's release in 2009. Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time is Mr. Adam's latest addition.

The Introduction

The ruins of Machu Picchu, located in the Peruvian Andes, have become one of South America's most frequented tourist attractions. In recent years, access to Machu Picchu has come in several forms, from hiking the Inca Trail to the bus rides up the Hiram Bingham Highway to taking the local train. But, in 1911, the only route was hiking the trail, which is exactly what explorer, Hiram Bingham III did with the aid of local guides. He is credited with 'discovering' the ruins and made subsequent visits in 1912 and 1915. He also published his book Lost City of the Incas in 1948. Amidst the accolades of Bingham's find, the controversy began. Was he truly the first to discover this forgotten piece of Incan history or had others come before him? There are many claims to the latter. Mark Adams set out to follow in Bingham's footsteps and possibly uncover the truth.

Review

Mark Adams' 2011 book Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time gives the "armchair traveler" a chance to make the trip. Of course, one can read Bingam's Inca Land or Lost City of the Incans but Adams' book has made the trek pure joy. From chewing cocoa leaves (for altitude sickness) to addressing why and who built Machu Picchu - is it pre-Incan, built a thousand years before Pizzaro's arrival or as a "Camp David" for the most notable Ican leader Pachacutec. Is Indiana Jones really based on Hiram Bingham? All this and more is revealed as Mark Adams leads you on a true life adventure.

I loved this book! Imagine hiring a guide and trekking this amazing area. My husband and I visited Machu Picchu two years ago and reading Mark Adams' Turn Right at Machu Picchu brought back fond memories. We didn't hike the Incan Trail like Mark did, we took the local train. Of course one could also travel via the Orient Express!

This book was received courtesy of Dutton, Penguin Publishing USA. The review was written by Deb Martens.

Find this book on Amazon: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time

Posted by Isadora 07:12 Comments (0)

American Portraits: 100 Countries

by Michael Clinton

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Editor's Note: The Book Club blog style design (means coding), only allows for an image of a book's cover art to be displayed in any given review. I have linked two of the book's featured participants to my gallery if you wish to view their images. I definitely recommend checking them out.

The Author

Michael Clinton is President and Marketing/Publishing Director for Hearst Magazines. He oversees titles such as Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics, O: The Oprah Magazine, Harper's Bazaar and several others. Mr. Clinton is also an avid photographer and traveler. He has seamlessly woven those two passions together, creating Wanderlust: 100 Countries, Global Snaps: 500 Photographs from 7 Continents and Global Faces: 500 Photographs from 7 Continents. American Portraits: 100 Countries is his latest addition to his on-going repertoire of published books.

The Introduction

America. And by that, I mean the U.S., the U.S.A., the United States of America. No matter how you write it or verbally express it - America means freedom, opportunity, dreams coming true and much more for many people from many countries. Although the term "melting pot" did not come into use until 1908 (taken from the title of a play of the same name by Israel Zangwill), America has held up to the term. It is a country of indigenous and immigrant people, all coming together as one nation. It is not a perfect society by any means, nor will I try to state it is, but it is the largest society with the most diverse components and history.

It is due to this complexity, and own heritage, that Michael Clinton has taken his latest literary journey. In his own words, "In my travels to nearly 120 countries around the world, I've never met anyone who has not been intrigued or hasn't dreamed about coming to America... to visit, to work or to start over again." With that in mind, Mr. Clinton set out to "find Americans whose bloodlines all added up to one hundred countries of origin". He accomplished that task with 93 individuals who, like you and me, are not celebrities, politicians or other high-profile figures. They are the everyday work-a-world people who found prosperity in America.

The Review

American Portraits: 100 Countries is actually a 'coffee table' type of book. It's hard-covered, large in size and not something you would take traveling with you. But, it is a very interesting read. The portrait photographs which accompany each entry are worth the "price of admission" alone. As an example - take Teszar, his parents immigrated to Canada, then to America, from Hungary.

American Broadcasting Company's (ABC) News Correspondent/Anchor, David Muir, wrote the forward for this publication. I'm a bit biased because I watch ABC news nightly and like Mr. Muir's reporting very much. But, his forward did honestly capture the essence of American Portraits. Having traveled the world, he understood the "pull" that America has on so many other people globally.

I must admit it only took a short period of time to read all of the entries. Again, as mentioned above, it is a coffee-table-style-book. Each description is a paragraph in length. I have found myself going back and re-reading many of them. From Mayanna Prak's family escaping Pol Pot's regime in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during 1975 to Renan Pierre's family fleeing Haiti for Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) then to America. The personal stories, though short in length, are genuinely enlightening.

I'm married to an Armenian/Turk/Swede/Norwegian. Though neither of us are into genealogy, the ancestral stories we have heard have been fascinating. I'm an adopted child so only know I am part English. The rest is a toss-up and maybe one of the reasons I keep going back to this book - these participants know their roots and are very proud of their accomplishments in America. I do know it is a book I will keep on my coffee table and revisit on a regular basis as it is inspirational.

This book was received courtesy of American Portraits by Michael Clinton, copyright © 2010, published by Glitterati Incorporated.

Find this book on Amazon: American Portraits: 100 Countries

Posted by Isadora 13:52 Comments (0)

Don't Stop The Carnival

by Herman Wouk

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The Author

Herman Wouk as an author is definitely more well-known for his other literary works than for this particular selection. He penned The Caine Mutiny for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in Literature. His other offerings include Marjorie Morningstar; Youngblood Hawke; The Winds of War; War and Remembrance; Inside, Outside; The Hope; and The Glory among others. But, it is Don't Stop The Carnival that is a most enjoyable blending of his own personal experiences living in the Caribbean for several years and an imaginary tale. Wouk is able to mix tragedy and triumph in a flawlessly humorous manner. That may sound a very odd statement but it is a true one. And, though this book was originally published in 1965, it has not lost any of it's luster over the years.

The Introduction

The year is 1959 and let me introduce you to Norman Paperman - a New York press agent on the verge of a mid-life crisis. Norman has hob-nobbed with the who's who of New York City's theater celebs. He's dined regularly at Sardi's and never missed a Broadway opening. He, with his wife Henny by his side, is at the top of his game. Little did he imagine a heart attack would throw him into turmoil...

Amerigo, or as the locals call it Kinja, is a small Caribbean island stuck among all the other small Caribbean islands. It sees it's share of tourist trade, has beautiful beaches, rustic lodgings, a government that flip-flops every few years, and the green flash at sunset. It also has a hotel, the Gull Reef Club, up for sale. What better a place to begin a new life than a Caribbean island that has it all. Well, that was Norman's thought. He and his friend, Lester Atlas, pay a visit to Kinja. Norman is absolutely enamored with the tropics, not to mention the Gull Reef Club. Now, how to tell Henny...

What transpires next is truly a madcap attempt at running a hotel on the edge of collapse. Whatever problem you can picture in your mind, Norman will probably encounter it. There's not a day that goes by where something doesn't fail. Yet, Mr. Paperman refuses to give up hope. It's the only thing he has working on his side. That, and a few friends he has made along his journey.

The Review

I found this book to be captivating. Like most books I read, it took me awhile to get through it but not due to lack of interest - more a lack of free time. Having visited the Caribbean on numerous occasions, I could relate whole-heartedly to the way things progress - slowly. The characters are full and rich with personality. The descriptions allowed me clear visualization of the backdrops, characters and goings-on. Personally, I was a tad disappointed with the way Wouk chose to end it, but I understand the reasoning behind it. I also had to look at it from the point of view that would have been in place in 1959 (and 1965, for that matter). Seriously, if the book was written today - the ending would probably remain the same for the same reasons. Regardless of my opinion of the ending and taking the story as a whole, I highly recommend Don't Stop The Carnival to everyone. Enjoy the green flash at sunset.

Find this book on Amazon: Don't Stop The Carnival

Posted by Isadora 12:29 Archived in USA Tagged books Comments (1)

The Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America

by Bill Bryson

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The Author & Introduction

During my time as a member of Travellerspoint, I have seen quite a few threads asking what books people read while traveling, what should someone read before traveling, what are member's favorite travel-related literary works, and so on. (A lot of "what" questions.) These requests were the reason the original TP Book Club thread was started in the Off Topic Forum. One author who always makes an early appearance is Bill Bryson. (Tway and I seem to trip over each other trying to beat each other to the proverbial posting punch where Bryson is concerned.) He is well-known for his sardonic wit and (non-fiction) travelogue style. Other Bryson works include: The Mother Tongue, Made In America, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away and In A Sunburned Country.

The Review

Bill Bryson was born during 1951 in Des Moines, Iowa. Like most middle-class American families of the time, vacations revolved around the "road trip" across the US. Such trips would usually include historic battle fields and anything that would let you in for free. Having been born only a couple of years later (and in a similarly-sized Iowa town), I could relate to Mr. Bryson's descriptions of the over-heated car, long hours on the highway and not stopping to pee. (After all, wasn't that what coffee cans were really designed for - emptying your bladder on long road trips?!) But, that's not what this book is about...

Having fled the country of his origins, once he became of age, Bryson set down his roots in the UK. Now, almost 2 decades later, he leaves his family in London and returns to rediscover The Lost Continent of his youth. Equipped with only a Chevy Chevette, borrowed from his mother, Bryson sets out on a 13,978 mile journey across 38 of the 48 contiguous states. It is a journey centered on love, hate and home. It is also a journey of unexpected revelations.

Having been in several of the places Mr. Bryson visits, I don't always agree with his assessments. But, that doesn't mean he's right or I am wrong in our experiences. We just saw things differently. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone planning a trip to the US. I also suggest that you check things out for yourself and not trust Mr. Bryson's opinion. Remember, he's an American looking at things from an American point of view. (He has also moved back to the US.) Either way, it is a very entertaining read and makes me want to revisit some very old haunts.

Find this book on Amazon: The Lost Continent: Travels In Small-Town America

Posted by Isadora 13:19 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Paradise Updated

by Mic Looby

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The Author

Through the kindness of Eric (dr. pepper) and the wonderful people of Affirm Press (Melbourne, Australia), I received a copy of Mic Looby's first offering as a novelist - Paradise Updated. Prior to this endeavor, Mr. Looby had been an author (Lonely Planet Myanmar (Burma)) and an editor (Lonely Planet Outback Australia) for guess who - yup - Lonely Planet. He is also well known for his illustrations in It's True! Frogs Are Cannibals (It's True!) by Michael J. Tyler and It's True! Animals Are Electrifying (It's True!) by Rick Wilkinson.

The Introduction

Welcome to SmallWorld™ - the Utopian sanctuary for travel guide authors and editors. Here is where your dream destinations are written down, catalogued, dated, updated and published for your reading pleasure. Here is where the fine line between fact and fiction also disappears in a haze of cost-cutting managerial decisions. Regardless, if there's a spot on this earth that someone wants to visit, you can be sure SmallWorld™ has an author on location to compile the complete travel guide just for you. Or, do they...

Welcome to Maganda. A country comprised of a small group of islands situated off the coast of South East Asia and virtually ignored by everyone except the young backpacking set - all carrying their copy of the travel guide (aka The Bible). The Bible is a lifetime's worth of work by SmallWorld's most notorious author, Robert Rind. He's a legend. A legend the publishers are eager to replace with just about anyone who is young, breathing and resembles a well-known actress. Who cares if she is inexperienced. She'll learn. Or, will she...

The Review

It took me awhile to actually get into this book but I'm very glad I kept reading. By the end, I was laughing hysterically with each turn of the page. You have a guide book publisher unwilling to pay an author's travel expenses because, "We can't afford to throw money at every guidebook author who wants to go travelling." That line alone forced me onward. Upon arriving in Maganda, the continual introduction to key characters (and finally) the infamous Robert Rind himself, had me hooked.

It is rumored that Paradise Updated is just a fictionalized representation of factual guide book publisher's tactics. I don't know and I don't really care. I can see the correlation with wanting to cut budgets, trying to appeal to broader (read younger) user base and altering a company's image. It happens daily around the world. But, it's the back story and the coming together of the key characters that make this book so enjoyable. Whether you believe the rumor or not, you will be wondering how Robert Rind has lasted as long as he has. And then there's poor Rudy...

The book is written in a travel guide-esque format. Bits from The Bible are interspersed at the end of chapters and chapters are also categorized in guide style. I recommend this book to anyone who has used a travel guide. I definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of becoming a travel guide writer. Kudos to Mr. Looby's first novel and I hope there is another on the horizon.

This book is not yet available on Amazon. Presently, it is for sale on the Affirm Press website: Paradise Updated

Posted by Isadora 13:09 Comments (0)

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