counter create hit Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World's Worst Places and Asks, "What's Funny about This?" - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World's Worst Places and Asks, "What's Funny about This?"

Availability: Ready to download

O'Rourke travels to hellholes around the globe--from war-torn Lebanon to Korea to Poland to El Salvador--looking for trouble, the truth, and good times. "A spin with P.J. O'Rourke is like a ride in the back of an old pickup over unpaved roads. You get where you're going fast, with exhilarating views--but not without a few bruises".--"The New York Times Book Review".


Compare
Ads Banner

O'Rourke travels to hellholes around the globe--from war-torn Lebanon to Korea to Poland to El Salvador--looking for trouble, the truth, and good times. "A spin with P.J. O'Rourke is like a ride in the back of an old pickup over unpaved roads. You get where you're going fast, with exhilarating views--but not without a few bruises".--"The New York Times Book Review".

30 review for Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World's Worst Places and Asks, "What's Funny about This?"

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Back in the mid to late '80s when PJ O'Rourke wrote the pieces that make up Holidays in Hell, the world was a much different place: there was war in the Middle East, the threat of nuclear conflict, sectarian violence...alright, so things haven't changed all that much. Which is one reason why, after twenty years, this collection of reportage pieces from Lebanon, Nicaragua, Palestine, Northern Ireland and other conflict hot spots remains worth reading. Another is O'Rourke's gonzo-style, no-sacred- Back in the mid to late '80s when PJ O'Rourke wrote the pieces that make up Holidays in Hell, the world was a much different place: there was war in the Middle East, the threat of nuclear conflict, sectarian violence...alright, so things haven't changed all that much. Which is one reason why, after twenty years, this collection of reportage pieces from Lebanon, Nicaragua, Palestine, Northern Ireland and other conflict hot spots remains worth reading. Another is O'Rourke's gonzo-style, no-sacred-cows approach--as a conservative (or conservative-libertarian) who believes, a la Winston Churchill, that Western-style democracy is the worst form of government except all others, he has little time for sentimental hand-wringing over the so-called third world. Yet only the most humourless Leftist could really be critical of O'Rourke who's nothing if not an equal-opportunity commentator--he rubbishes his own country when he gets the chance, too. A stirring and very funny read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    The 80's had some ideal hotspots for a rogue journalist like PJ O'Rourke. Somehow he managed to convince the editors of magazines he worked for that they required stories from these largely untravelled (at the time - not necessarily before or after), largely dangerous places where he was able to ignore sensible advice, and live to write about it. He visits many - El-Salvador, Ireland, Israel, South Korea, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Panama, The Philippines, Poland, Russia and South-Africa are the main sp The 80's had some ideal hotspots for a rogue journalist like PJ O'Rourke. Somehow he managed to convince the editors of magazines he worked for that they required stories from these largely untravelled (at the time - not necessarily before or after), largely dangerous places where he was able to ignore sensible advice, and live to write about it. He visits many - El-Salvador, Ireland, Israel, South Korea, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Panama, The Philippines, Poland, Russia and South-Africa are the main spots, and there are also a few stories based in the USA and one in Australia (which is generally not known as a hot-spot, for good reason). His Australian story was about the America's Cup in Fremantle, and was largely a piss-take of the 'sport' for millionaires. O'Rourke is about as far from a politically correct, culturally sensitive, ego massaging journalist as you can get. He is deliberately controversial, throwing up generalisations and stereotypes and mocking cultures as he sees fit, and so long as you are not easily offended - pretty funny while he does it. Has it aged well? This was published in 1988, and the individual stories range from 1984 to 1988. In many ways it hasn't aged well - there are references to people and events that I am a bit dusty on, (to be fair the 80's were still my school years, so political events were not really high priorities), so for younger persons - perhaps hard to reconcile some of the references. To be honest, it was probably funnier when the troubles were more topical. However in general, the writing does hold appeal and interest now. It is, or course snapshots of the time, but all Journalism is. I felt a couple of the chapters rolled on a few pages too long, and I found myself looking forward tot he end, but in general they are short enough to read in a sitting (or less). There were some very funny (and likely highly insulting) quotes in the book, but I neglected to mark them as I read, so having had a 30 second flick through, I couldn't locate anything worthwhile to share, but there are a few quotes in other reviews, and listed on the book page. To me these didn't seem the best of them. 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I'm not sure why I didn't like this book more. It was vividly and humorously written, educational and even important. I think it was just the page after page of diverse suffering and injustice, presented by an author whose considered opinion appears to be that there is no hope for the Third World and so we might as well laugh at it. (Tangentially, I suggest that easily offended readers skip the prologue, which contains a large number of barely-joking generalizations that even in the context of a I'm not sure why I didn't like this book more. It was vividly and humorously written, educational and even important. I think it was just the page after page of diverse suffering and injustice, presented by an author whose considered opinion appears to be that there is no hope for the Third World and so we might as well laugh at it. (Tangentially, I suggest that easily offended readers skip the prologue, which contains a large number of barely-joking generalizations that even in the context of a well-informed humor book border on racism.) I'd much rather read Mr. O'Rourke's accounts of Third World privations than go there and see for myself, but it's still difficult to plow through so much despair and anomie. The two most interesting aspects of this book were the clear and telling delineations O'Rourke draws between otherwise similar Third World countries; and the changes that have taken place (or, more often, not taken place) since the essays were written in the mid-1980s.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David

    Contains one of the best paragraphs in all the English language... starting with ...."I snapped...."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Despicable politics but a great sense of humour.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    My good friend Amy is an honors student in journalism. She’s about to start her Senior Year as editor-in-chief of her college newspaper. Anyway, something she mentioned in a recent blog post was that she’d left for college, certain that her dream was to blast through her four years, then become a foreign correspondent, traveling the world and filing stories from exotic trouble-spots. My mind flashed back on P.J. O’Rourke’s “Holidays in Hell,” a book that bridges a gap between where Amy is in her My good friend Amy is an honors student in journalism. She’s about to start her Senior Year as editor-in-chief of her college newspaper. Anyway, something she mentioned in a recent blog post was that she’d left for college, certain that her dream was to blast through her four years, then become a foreign correspondent, traveling the world and filing stories from exotic trouble-spots. My mind flashed back on P.J. O’Rourke’s “Holidays in Hell,” a book that bridges a gap between where Amy is in her life and I am in mine. “Holidays in Hell” was originally published in 1988, as I was starting my Senior Year (I was only a freelance features writer on my college paper, though). This book is cobbled together from stories O’Rourke wrote for magazines, most of them for Rolling Stone. Worse still—as far as making me feel old—is that I remember most of these stories when they were originally published in Rolling Stone, back in the mid-to-late 1980’s, back when I was young enough to subscribe to (or give a shit about) Rolling Stone. P.J. O’Rourke showed me a style of writing that shaped my own, and probably pissed-off a number of my English professors. What O’Rourke did was infuse serious journalism with irreverent humor. The journalism is very real. The stories gathered here are not puff-pieces or travelogues. The author visited Lebanon when it was a hotbed of strife, South Africa under Apartheid, Korea during violent election protests. He saw where various death squads dumped their bodies in Central America and The Philippines, and he was hit with pepper spray, tear gas, and—nearly—a bullet or two. The humor is what separates P.J. O’Rourke from other journalists. His prose thrums with life. As impassioned as he is describing Korean student riots, he describes the Koreans predilection for spicy food hysterically (“After lunch, our breath could clean your oven,” e.g.). The humor still got me—I laughed my ass off in probably the exact same parts I did back in 1988—but what struck me was how much things have changed since then. He toured Poland behind the Iron Curtain; Poland is free, now. He toured South Africa under Apartheid; Apartheid is no more. He describes his 1986 attempt to get to Libya after U.S. Fighters bombed there; Libya is under new management. So much of the world has changed, now. I certainly don’t mean this in an old-fartish way like, “These damn kids today don’t know what a riot is,” but as a simple observation. In 1988, there’s no way anyone could have predicted the Arab Spring revolutions, powered by Twitter. There was no Twitter. There was no email. The only mention of computer use in “Holidays from Hell” is where O’Rourke laments the lack of a “brief summation” button on his Apple II. This was a time when magazines and newspapers still shelled-out big money for a correspondent to provide in-depth, first-hand coverage of a major world crisis. Today, the print news media is on life-support. These “Holidays in Hell” are beautifully preserved memories of a completely different global community. I remember Iran-Contra, Reagan-Gorbachev summits, the anti-Apartheid protests—I even remember Fawn Hall and Ollie North (good thing, too, because there are a few oblique references to them here). The point is that I remember when these historical events were current events (I got details from the world’s only 24-hour news channel, CNN (how many of THOSE are there now??)). Amy starts her Senior Year in a couple weeks, just like I was when first I read this excellent book in 1988. When I read her piece about how she’d wanted to be a foreign correspondent, I got on the then-unheard-of Internet, and sent a copy to her then-unheard-of Kindle. Having reread “Holidays in Hell” tonight, I imagine the stories will probably seem like irrelevant history to her. I can only wonder at how dated today’s “big stories” will seem to her a quarter-century hence, and what kind of technology will have blown-past what we have today. If I’m here in 25 years, I’m reasonably certain Amy will be running a medium-sized country (we joke that I’ll be her Leo McGarry, because I’m crotchety that way), or—more likely—that she’ll have been one of the sharper reporters covering and analyzing The World: 2014 to 2039. Also, I have no doubt that I’ll be able to read “Holidays in Hell,” and still crack-up at “…a miasma of eyeglass-fogging kimchi breath, throat-searing kimchi belches, and terrible, pants-splitting kimchi farts.” (Some part of me will never grow up) Highly Recommended

  7. 5 out of 5

    thelastword

    Given that the writer had such a short period of time in the places he visited, he seemed to grasp the core of things pretty well. Pity that this accuracy is wasted on him as all he uses it for is to pass mean judgement on all, whether good or bad (apart from when it came to the occupied lands. As far as I'm concerned, he tried too hard to make both sides seem responsible, when we all clearly know the truth). He also draws similes and makes references to events, people, and things that may have Given that the writer had such a short period of time in the places he visited, he seemed to grasp the core of things pretty well. Pity that this accuracy is wasted on him as all he uses it for is to pass mean judgement on all, whether good or bad (apart from when it came to the occupied lands. As far as I'm concerned, he tried too hard to make both sides seem responsible, when we all clearly know the truth). He also draws similes and makes references to events, people, and things that may have been current during his time and/or only relevant to Americans - whichever, it was lost on me, and made reading a tad confusing. Basically, this travel journal is interesting, but mostly repulsive due to the disrespect the writer has to just about everybody. [Edit: Concerning the paragraph starting with 'I snapped...' - it only displays a very obvious inferiority complex to Europeans. Not classy at all.]

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    've had this book around for a while and have read it in bits and pieces, as it is written in a format that easily allows for that. It's been my bath book, my waiting in lines book, my doctor's office book. I've enjoyed it emmensely. I was a subscriber to Rolling Stone magazine for quite some time and always enjoyed reading O'Rourke's articles, so I had no doubt that I would appriciate a collection of them. (I was correct in that assumption.) I've also lately realized how little I know about his 've had this book around for a while and have read it in bits and pieces, as it is written in a format that easily allows for that. It's been my bath book, my waiting in lines book, my doctor's office book. I've enjoyed it emmensely. I was a subscriber to Rolling Stone magazine for quite some time and always enjoyed reading O'Rourke's articles, so I had no doubt that I would appriciate a collection of them. (I was correct in that assumption.) I've also lately realized how little I know about history in general and therefore I really learned a lot from this. O'Rourke is an excellent writer with an eye for humor and flair and never hesitates to give his opinion about anything. As the quote on the back cover says, you may not agree with him, but he writes a helluva piece. Definitely recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    My introduction to P.J. O'Rourke.I will always love this book. It made me laugh like no other book had managed and it planted the first seeds of anti-Socialism in my mind. It also made me realise that being un-PC is the way to go. It's okay to laugh at other countries and cultures if they're absolutely mad. Thanks P.J.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Se84

    The guy's a jackass, but he can write.

  11. 4 out of 5

    One Flew

    This is the only travel book i've ever liked. What I love about PJ is the fact that he has absolutely no illusions about the way the world works. Most left wingers tend to believe that all of the worlds problems can be solved and that the rich are to blame for it all. If you're looking for a genuine, insightful and funny book about how messed up the world is, then this is the book for you. PJ is completely remorseless about his views and doesn't try and offer any well meaning advice about how to This is the only travel book i've ever liked. What I love about PJ is the fact that he has absolutely no illusions about the way the world works. Most left wingers tend to believe that all of the worlds problems can be solved and that the rich are to blame for it all. If you're looking for a genuine, insightful and funny book about how messed up the world is, then this is the book for you. PJ is completely remorseless about his views and doesn't try and offer any well meaning advice about how to change things, just has fun pointing out life's shortcomings. Hilarious. The only negative i found was, that it is divided into several small chapters about different events/countries, and they don't flow into each other that well. I ended up reading a chapter here or there in between other books, rather than reading it all at once.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Earle

    If O'Rourke's quirky brand of humor resonates with you, this is as good as it gets. I've read most of his works, and this is my favorite. O'Rourke was a foreign correspondent for 'Rolling Stone', and was sent to every god-forsaken hellhole in the world. It is from his experiences in these venues that the chapters are drawn. The chapter on Lebanon begins ...... "Beirut, at a glance, lacks charm." If that doesn't strike you as pure writing genius, then you probably won't enjoy this book (or other of If O'Rourke's quirky brand of humor resonates with you, this is as good as it gets. I've read most of his works, and this is my favorite. O'Rourke was a foreign correspondent for 'Rolling Stone', and was sent to every god-forsaken hellhole in the world. It is from his experiences in these venues that the chapters are drawn. The chapter on Lebanon begins ...... "Beirut, at a glance, lacks charm." If that doesn't strike you as pure writing genius, then you probably won't enjoy this book (or other of O'Rourke's books). O'Rourke did a very short stint as a commentator on television, where he bombed in grand fashion. It was hard for me to watch. His medium is clearly the written word, not the spoken word.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sergio GRANDE

    Disappointing. This is not a book that has stood the test of time; it was probably funnier while it was topical. What's the point of reading about a South Africa on the brink of democracy, or about a war-torn Beirut when the author does not offer a lasting impression of the countries but rather an account of his own experience at that precise moment in history? Change the circumstances and the accounts become inconsequential. As both did. The biggest disappointment though, came from the little xe Disappointing. This is not a book that has stood the test of time; it was probably funnier while it was topical. What's the point of reading about a South Africa on the brink of democracy, or about a war-torn Beirut when the author does not offer a lasting impression of the countries but rather an account of his own experience at that precise moment in history? Change the circumstances and the accounts become inconsequential. As both did. The biggest disappointment though, came from the little xenophobic comments O'Rourke lets slip here and there. A real sad thing to see so much intellectual talent wasted on passing disparaging comments about the Third World. Unnecessary, really, but he probably couldn't help it. Or see it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Benito

    Good shit, though perhaps some of it's a little dated now, having been written in the late 80s. The entry on Fremantle, WA as a part of 'Hell' is particularly interesting for us southern colonial folk I think. Good to see Australia has a town as awful as any in Israel, Northern Island, or Lebanon, though I had a great time in Fremantle myself, and would have chosen Adelaide or Brisbane as far more hellish, but hey, who's the famous right-wing gonzo boy here? Not me, that's for sure.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    It was ok. A bit dated (set in 1980's, some interesting points/facts Also author was really quite racist. I wouldn't recommend this. I picked it up in a charity shop and should have saved my £1.50 to be honest. I didn't bother finishing it (I got to the last 3 chapters, so gave it a good go) How has this racist man got so many good reviews? I was repeatedly shocked by his racist, ill informed and arrogant (American (white)-centric)comments.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David H.

    I don't consider myself a conservative, but I found out about P.J. O'Rourke during my college years (1980-1984, go Rockhurst!!!). O'Rourke shares tales of his world travels. Check out the one on South Korea, or the one on Poland. What a scream. I still read it sometimes, just for hearty laughs and a shot of great writing. I even got to meet him at a book signing. Great guy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    denise

    Wow, I'm the first to add this book? I should get some kind something for that!! This book is classic PJ O'Rourke. Vacationing in Beriut and Lebanon might not be for everyone, but you too can experience it through his writings!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Raegan Butcher

    Hilarious dispatches from some of the world's worst places. This guy is so funny I laugh out loud at his stuff when i'm reading it. No wonder he is (apparently, according to wkipedia) the world's most quoted author! Funny stuff!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katjusa

    Hilarious. Some of the best writing I've read recently. Would've given it five stars if the last chapter (his vision of 2013) wasn't so slipshod.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Gilkison

    O'Rourkes best book by far.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Garvey

    Before reading his late 1980s account of his adventures in some of the world’s (then) worst places – Lebanon, Poland, El Salvador, Israel, South Africa and, erm, Harvard – I’d always been vaguely aware that O’ Rourke’s book was generally regarded as a sort of comedic travel writing classic. Almost thirty years later it still is. Sort of. In places. In other places it’s a crass, borderline racist jumbling of anecdotes and one-liners that’s best read, understood and somewhat forgiven as a product o Before reading his late 1980s account of his adventures in some of the world’s (then) worst places – Lebanon, Poland, El Salvador, Israel, South Africa and, erm, Harvard – I’d always been vaguely aware that O’ Rourke’s book was generally regarded as a sort of comedic travel writing classic. Almost thirty years later it still is. Sort of. In places. In other places it’s a crass, borderline racist jumbling of anecdotes and one-liners that’s best read, understood and somewhat forgiven as a product of its time. But even at its worst, it’s still funny. And often true. I was there in 2002 and I can honestly say his description of Yugoslav toilets as “a hole in the floor with a scary old lady with a mop standing next to it” was still pretty much true. Even after Yugoslavia had ceased to exist, its toilets hadn’t. In O’ Rourke’s telling, “each American embassy comes with two permanent features – a giant anti-American demonstration and a giant line for American visas. Most demonstrators spend half their time burning Old Glory and the other half waiting for green cards.” Lebanon’s economy is based on “everyone selling cartons of smuggled Marlboros to each other” and Beirut is “a city of three million people with three stoplights and these aren’t working… all driving is at top speed, much of it on the sidewalks since most parking is done in the middle of the streets” but “fortunately, the Lebanese are a clean people, even the very poor ones. It wasn’t like being packed into a bus on a sweltering day with a bunch of French or anything.” When in doubt, bash the French for guaranteed Anglo-Saxon laughs. PJ is impressed and amazed by the sheer orderliness of South Korean protestors and, in the next chapter, the excitability of the Panamanians “who have absolutely no immunity to theatrics.” And again, amongst all the jokes, he makes some excellent, and deeply serious points about both countries at pivotal moments in their modern history. His chapter on Poland is particularly good, both for laughs and insight. Visiting Warsaw, he explains that “Commies love concrete… everything is made of it – streets, buildings, floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, window frames, lamp posts, statues, benches, plus some of the food, I think.” There’s some fascinating stuff about the Polish punk music scene, too. At home a trip to Christian theme park and resort Heritage USA gives him a chance to sneer at his countrymen. Lucky he went when he did. It closed in 1989. He also attends Harvard university’s 350th anniversary celebration and finds it all immensely boring, unsurprisingly and goes into great detail in describing the weirdly plastic corporate ‘delights’ of Disney’s Epcot Centre without ever managing to mention similarities to Westworld or Logan’s Run. The 1987 Reagan/Gorbachev summit gives him plenty of chances to poke fun at the pomposity of journalists but it’s hardly a holiday in hell and as such, feels like faintly amusing filler. He hangs out with some Communist insurgents in the Phillipines (perhaps the best chapter of the lot) and is impressed with the strides made by the Aquino administration – “what Cory had done so far in the Phillipines was magic, but a very mild kind of magic, like pulling a rabbit out of a rabbit hutch.” He finds apartheid-era South Africans surprisingly reasonable about the subject of race and spends most of chapter on Europe (‘Among the Euro-Weenies’) moaning about everything and wondering why nobody seems to like America. Perhaps because when they write about it, America’s satirists come across not so much as amusing but as spoiled whingers. O’ Rourke spends just thirty six hours in Nicaragua but comes up with interesting insights and his theory about how the absence of chickens in Managua correlates with the country’s poverty is both jokey and convincing. This chapter also includes the best quote of the entire book, although it’s not from PJ’s typewriter, it’s from the New York Times: “They [La Prensa] accused of suppressing freedom of expression. This was a lie and we could not let them publish it.” – Nelba Blandon, Interior Ministry Director of Censorship, 1984. Classic. It’s not all that good though. O’ Rourke’s use of the word ‘Japs’ looks pretty appalling in 2016, and wasn’t especially nice in 1988 either. Calling Lebanon’s “native culture… bent on murder, pillage and rape” is even worse and his portrayal of an Israeli tear gassing of worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque as resulting in “some coughing and sneezing and lots of international indignation” isn’t just wrong, it’s downright inhuman. But, a few pages later he describes the Israeli treatment of Palestinian protestors as “bullshit. This is barbarism… there’s no excuse for this kind of civilian-hammering by soldiers and police.” So, in the end, he gets it, far more than you’d expect a 1980s American conservative to. His disturbing description of the ‘non-lethal’ rubber bullets so seemingly beloved of both the Israeli and British army in the early 1970s is worth quoting in full: “The rubber bullets come at you with an untuned guitar-string twang and a whistle and hit the pavement and buildings in profound whacks. A couple of these projectiles bounced up by my feet. They’re black cylinders about as big as the last knuckle on your thumb, heavy in the hand and hard as a shoe heel. I cut one open later. It had a steel pellet the size of a .45 slug inside.” His predictions for the next quarter of a century are way off, although his joke that “insurgent terrorist groups will have multiplied until there is one for each living person” feels pretty spot on, as is his “brilliant future [that] awaits the Third World, a future filled with peace, prosperity, health and happiness, a future that the people of the Third World will reach, um… the moment they die and go to heaven. And for a very large number of them that will be soon indeed, because they’re dying like flies out there in Upper Revolta and Absurdistan.” In jest, there is truth.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Kyriosity

    Funny and insightful, but too often in a crass way. Wouldn't want to imbibe too much of O'Rourke. But I am planning on trying the sequel, Holidays in Heck, to see if he's matured a bit in the intervening decades.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diana Isaura

    Maybe I took this book and the issues it presented too seriously for I did not "lol" as much as I had anticipated ("A book that makes you laugh out loud"). It is creatively written and O'Rourke is a great story teller.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Risking life and limb in such Hellish zones as 1980s Lebanon, El Salvador, and Harvard University, O’Rourke looks “for a good time” amidst the chaos according to the rear cover description… just above the Nixon quote…trippy… While reading this, I assumed he was a journalist that had attempted the objective route during the sundry riots, protests, and Vietnams dotting the sixties and finally said “F**k it! This is all bullsh*t that perpetually repeats itself!” and moved on to a, if you will, more Risking life and limb in such Hellish zones as 1980s Lebanon, El Salvador, and Harvard University, O’Rourke looks “for a good time” amidst the chaos according to the rear cover description… just above the Nixon quote…trippy… While reading this, I assumed he was a journalist that had attempted the objective route during the sundry riots, protests, and Vietnams dotting the sixties and finally said “F**k it! This is all bullsh*t that perpetually repeats itself!” and moved on to a, if you will, more subjective approach to covering contentious situations. Apparently he’s always been a satirist/smart ass and this is certainly well-conveyed with these hilarious essays. Beyond apparently consuming massive quantities of booze, O’Rourke’s “holidays” aren’t about vacationy stuff like awkwardly parasailing in Beirut during the latest bombing campaign. He’s there like “real” journalists, under fire, seeking out key interviews, and doing whatever else real journalists do in troubled zones (apparently consume massive quantities of booze). The difference is O’Rourke takes it all with a grain of salt and a long ton of cynicism. Compiled throughout the eighties, this is obviously dated in a same-damn-thing manner. Problems in and around the Holy Land? Mexican border issues? Slimy evangelists? I’m so glad we’re in a more advanced millennium. South Africa gets a big soccer tournament in our brave new world, though I hear Epcot is still charging admission for awe-inspiring exposure to the prowess that is General Motors. Can’t win them all. Don’t sell that gas mask on EBAY just yet.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    Entertaining and acerbicly written, as one might expect. It's also interesting from an historical perspective these days. More depressing is while many of the conflicts and situations described have changed considerably (particularly Beirut and South Africa) similar turmoil has erupted elsewhere. Like the old adage, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". One exception is the section about Warsaw, which anyone visiting modern Poland should read. I visited Prague when it was still Entertaining and acerbicly written, as one might expect. It's also interesting from an historical perspective these days. More depressing is while many of the conflicts and situations described have changed considerably (particularly Beirut and South Africa) similar turmoil has erupted elsewhere. Like the old adage, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". One exception is the section about Warsaw, which anyone visiting modern Poland should read. I visited Prague when it was still in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Czechoslovakia and much of what he says about late '80s Warsaw was also true about late '80s Prague, but with better architecture and nicer beer. I like several things about Mr O'Rourke's style. First, he has an obvious respect for the ordinary people just trying to get along, or driven to extraordinary actions by their extreme circumstances. Secondly, and more importantly, he has a confrontational style which challenges our cosy preconceptions, which I regard as a good thing. A good example is how he lauds the "honesty" of apartheid era South Africa; his point being that at least they're openly racist, rather than covertly so while pretending they aren't, like the rest of the world. It's also an entertaining memoir of journalism on the front line and, like John Simpson's "A Mad World, My Masters" is amuses and amazes me how well decent hotels seem to manage to function in war zones. Though it is a subject I'm happy to read about rather than experience.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter rock

    this is a very good book i was always disapointed that P J O'rourke did not focus on dangerous hot spots in america go to gangland.net save it to favorites and call me in the morning because i am in love with you earth. People of earth what the fuck ya all upset with each other for in groups where it gets messy for those of us that are not upset at all. p j o'rourke one of my fathers required reading projects. Hey my close personal Friends want to know all the books my large highly lethal family this is a very good book i was always disapointed that P J O'rourke did not focus on dangerous hot spots in america go to gangland.net save it to favorites and call me in the morning because i am in love with you earth. People of earth what the fuck ya all upset with each other for in groups where it gets messy for those of us that are not upset at all. p j o'rourke one of my fathers required reading projects. Hey my close personal Friends want to know all the books my large highly lethal family has required me to read and have them jammed into your brain like you were a fuckin SUPER COMPUTER i didn't think so. I also a bit of a lego maniac i am very competetive about my standing in the legomaniac world. Isuggest we all get together and build a border fence with legos around america Your right i will just keep READING and VOTING like an adult i like immigrints my family is full of them they can violate the shit out of your privacy though for no reason what so evah. they are irish my mother believes in numerology and telepathic abilities and past lives and she talks to moon people... no shit. In my family any thing Goes and since pj O'rourke thinks he is such top dog and all what about the Ghetto hoods now are they better dick head. I am fuckin rational guy Pj O'rourke but then again i am not an idiot who likes to have a who's hood can be the poorest world contest and call it a book. Yours Pete rock campbellseptember 30 2008

  27. 4 out of 5

    Keen

    2.5 Stars! Granted there is a fine line between so called “gonzo” journalism and a structureless, self-indulgent mess. O’Rourke finds himself on both sides of that line in this collection. In one sense this takes a fairly original take on travel, certainly for the time, in that it challenges the myths, lies and BS that surrounded the vast majority of travel related books that were coming out. He clearly has his tongue firmly in his cheek much of the time but then that can only take you so far bef 2.5 Stars! Granted there is a fine line between so called “gonzo” journalism and a structureless, self-indulgent mess. O’Rourke finds himself on both sides of that line in this collection. In one sense this takes a fairly original take on travel, certainly for the time, in that it challenges the myths, lies and BS that surrounded the vast majority of travel related books that were coming out. He clearly has his tongue firmly in his cheek much of the time but then that can only take you so far before it too becomes stale and monotonous. I‘m not sure how well this collection was received when it first came out back in 1988, but the vast majority of the attempted humour falls deafeningly flat, though a little still gets through now and then. O’Rourke gets to some interesting places, Eastern Bloc Poland, Seoul in the midst of student riots, post Marcos Philippines, Fremantle, WA and Harvard and with hugely varying results. There is one article where he goes to France and is trying to get to Libya and it’s here in particular where he seems to embody the very negative stereotype that Americans have earned when travelling abroad, that of the brash, dumb, over bearing, loud mouth, blabbering on about how much bigger and better they think they do everything. Overall I’d say that there were three or four good to strong stories in here and the rest fall somewhere between dull, bad and mediocre.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    "A Trouble Tourist- going to see insurrections, stupidities, political crises, civil disturbances... because it's fun" By sally tarbox on 5 May 2017 Format: Kindle Edition Laugh-out-loud adventures from the 1980s, as journalist PJ O'Rourke travels the globe. A Ramble through Lebanon ("in Lebanon you'd be crazy not to have a gun. Though, I assure you, all the crazy people have guns too."). A student protest in S Korea, patrolling the US / Mexico border for illegal immigrants, a satirical look at Pan "A Trouble Tourist- going to see insurrections, stupidities, political crises, civil disturbances... because it's fun" By sally tarbox on 5 May 2017 Format: Kindle Edition Laugh-out-loud adventures from the 1980s, as journalist PJ O'Rourke travels the globe. A Ramble through Lebanon ("in Lebanon you'd be crazy not to have a gun. Though, I assure you, all the crazy people have guns too."). A student protest in S Korea, patrolling the US / Mexico border for illegal immigrants, a satirical look at Panamanian, Salvadorian and Filipino government... Nearer to home, he visits Belfast during the troubles in The Piece of Ireland that Passeth all Understanding, investigates fun in Warsaw and is underwhelmed by Europe: "The French are a smallish monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore". He explores Israel, South Africa -and Russia as it begins perestroika. Some of the funniest episodes are in his native USA, visiting a born-again Christian resort ("Dorothy and I came to scoff - but went away converted. Unfortunately we were converted to Satanism."), the Epcot Centre and the Gorbachev/ Reagan meeting. Some of the government stuff left a jumbled impression on me - the Central American countriesrun together in my mind. But certainly an entertaining, non-PC account.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lili

    I enjoyed my second time through this book more than the first because it rings so true to some of my adventures in "trouble tourism.". There are just so many laugh out loud gems that I can't even begin to list all of them. For example, the phrase "covering a story from Mahogany Ridge," which means working on it in a bar. Of course, my hands down favorite is the ending of the Europe (April to May 1986) essay explaining why the USA has never been invaded. Find it in a library and read that page. I enjoyed my second time through this book more than the first because it rings so true to some of my adventures in "trouble tourism.". There are just so many laugh out loud gems that I can't even begin to list all of them. For example, the phrase "covering a story from Mahogany Ridge," which means working on it in a bar. Of course, my hands down favorite is the ending of the Europe (April to May 1986) essay explaining why the USA has never been invaded. Find it in a library and read that page. I doubt you will regret it. If you have a few more minutes, and have ever driven outside the "Western World," the very short essay on third world drivers will have you in stitches. I would love to see PJ O'Rourke write a 25th anniversary update, if only to illustrate the outcomes of his zany tongue-in-cheek predictions for 2013 presented in the epilogue. He was spectacularly wrong about Marxism, but eerily correct about so much else. My dad originally gave me this in the early 1990s when I developed a keen interest in Eastern Europe. Loved it then, and thought to re-read it now in advance of "Looking for Trouble" by Ralph Peters (recommended by Cooper) because I figured I would be comparing the two on my head anyway. "Looking for Trouble" is the next travel memoir on the list.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    I think I would have rated this 4 stars when I first read it a couple of decades ago... It is still hilarious, but vigorous satire and above-it-all laughing at misery makes me feel a tad uncomfortable when it didn't bother me, then. That being said, I was reminded of this tome when I saw it on "15 funniest travel books ever written" on CNN.com. Now what strikes me is how sad so much of the problem spots are still problem spots without resolution: illegal immigrants from Central America, infighti I think I would have rated this 4 stars when I first read it a couple of decades ago... It is still hilarious, but vigorous satire and above-it-all laughing at misery makes me feel a tad uncomfortable when it didn't bother me, then. That being said, I was reminded of this tome when I saw it on "15 funniest travel books ever written" on CNN.com. Now what strikes me is how sad so much of the problem spots are still problem spots without resolution: illegal immigrants from Central America, infighting in the Levant and parts north, ... even the promise of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit didn't pan out in these Putin times... ..Also, I think this the type of travel writing, Henry David Thoreau warned of: "It's not worthwhile to go around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar" and from Walden, "I read one or two shallow books of travel in the intervals of my work, till that employment made me ashamed of myself..."

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.