Tag Archives: Book review

See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey Into Kim Jong Un’s North Korea

See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey Into Kim Jong Un’s North Korea by Travis Jeppesen

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A “close-up look at the cloistered country” (USA Today), See You Again in Pyongyang is American writer Travis Jeppesen’s “probing” and “artful” (New York Times Book Review) chronicle of his travels in North Korea–an eye-opening portrait that goes behind the headlines about Trump and Kim, revealing North Koreans’ “entrepreneurial spirit, and hidden love of foreign media, as well as their dreams and fears” (Los Angeles Times).

In See You Again in Pyongyang, Travis Jeppesen, the first American to complete a university program in North Korea, culls from his experiences living, traveling, and studying in the country to create a multifaceted portrait of the country and its idiosyncratic capital city in the Kim Jong Un Era. Anchored by the experience of his five trips to North Korea and his interactions with citizens from all walks of life, Jeppesen takes readers behind the propaganda, showing how the North Korean system actually works in daily life. He challenges the notion that Pyongyang is merely a “showcase capital” where everything is staged for the benefit of foreigners, as well as the idea that Pyongyangites are brainwashed robots. Jeppesen introduces readers to an array of fascinating North Koreans, from government ministers with a side hustle in black market Western products to young people enamored with American pop culture. With unique personal insight and a rigorous historical grounding, Jeppesen goes beyond the media cliches, showing North Koreans in their full complexity. See You Again in Pyongyang is an essential addition to the literature about one of the world’s most fascinating and mysterious places.

Travis Jeppesen is the author of three novels, two volumes of poetry, a stage play, and a collection of art criticism. His critical writings on art, film, and literature have appeared in Artforum, Afterall, The Believer, Art in America, Flash Art, New York Press, Bookforum, and Zoo Magazine. He is the recipient of a 2013 Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/the Warhol Foundation, and his text-based visual art has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.

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Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier by Mark Adams

Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier by Mark Adams

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From the acclaimed, bestselling author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, a fascinating and funny journey into Alaska, America’s last frontier, retracing the historic 1899 Harriman Expedition.

In 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized a most unusual summer voyage to the wilds of Alaska: He converted a steamship into a luxury “floating university,” populated by some of America’s best and brightest scientists and writers, including the anti-capitalist eco-prophet John Muir. Those aboard encountered a land of immeasurable beauty and impending environmental calamity. More than a hundred years later, Alaska is still America’s most sublime wilderness, both the lure that draws a million tourists annually on Inside Passage cruises and a natural resources larder waiting to be raided. As ever, it remains a magnet for weirdos and dreamers.

Armed with Dramamine and an industrial-strength mosquito net, Mark Adams sets out to retrace the 1899 expedition. Using the state’s intricate public ferry system, the Alaska Marine Highway System, Adams travels three thousand miles, following the George W. Elder‘s itinerary north through Wrangell, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, then continuing west into the colder and stranger regions of the Aleutians and the Arctic Circle. Along the way, he encounters dozens of unusual characters (and a couple of very hungry bears) and investigates how lessons learned in 1899 might relate to Alaska’s current struggles in adapting to climate change.

Mark Adams is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Meet Me in Atlantis and Turn Right at Machu Picchu. A writer for many national magazines, including GQ, Men’s Journal, and New York, he lives near New York City with his wife and children.

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Around the World in Fifteen Friends: Fifteen Short Stories of Love, Crime, and Kindness

Around the World in Fifteen Friends: Fifteen Short Stories of Love, Crime, and Kindness by Tynan

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Tynan traveled six continents and seventy countries over eight years. Over that time he met hundreds of people and found himself in the most varied of circumstances. This book is a collection of fifteen of the most remarkable people he met or traveled with, and the stories he made with them. The stories include everything from breaking down in a school bus in the middle of the desert to exploring the Parias catacombs to trying to set up an arranged marriage on a ship in the Pacific.

Tynan is a world traveler who has previously written five books, including the Amazon #1 Bestseller, Superhuman Social Skills. He was one of Time Magazine’s top 50 bloggers, and was chosen as an Amtrak Resident Writer.

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Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club: And Other Unlikely Travel Tales by Paul Gogarty

Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club: And Other Unlikely Travel Tales by Paul Gogarty

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VIGNETTES OF TRAVEL WRITING FROM AROUND THE GLOBE IN TWENTY SIX  A – Z  STORIES, PEOPLED WITH ECCENTRIC CHARACTERS–In Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club acclaimed travel writer Paul Gogarty shares his life on the road in 26 A-Z stories recording his very particular engagement with some highly eccentric characters. An eclectic range of destinations sees Gogarty skiing in Algeria, deep sea fishing in Kenya and attending a George Formby ukulele convention in Blackpool. Often hilarious, these tales range from an end-of-the-line bachelor auction in Alaska to attending the Henley-on-Todd Regatta in the parched dustbowl of Alice Springs. A passion for music is a thread running through several of the stories. In “Caister Soul Weekender” Gogarty checks into an East Anglian static caravan site for three days of dance, Red Bull and camaraderie. After hanging out with country wannabes in Nashville and attending the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville his car breaks down at the very crossroads where bluesman Robert Johnson reputedly sold his soul to the devil in return for guitar mastery. Nor is Gogarty afraid to sign up for the bizarre, whether visiting a homemade Stonehenge, taking an Arctic plunge protected only by swimming trunks, or learning the arcane art of healing and dowsing for hereditary diseases in Basingstoke. This collection showcases the diversity and possibilities of travel writing. More than anything else these tales underline a fascination with people and an openness to experience the world in all its diversity.

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How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents about Building a Happy Marriage

How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents About Building a Happy Marriage by Jo Piazza

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Everyone tells you marriage is hard, but no one tells you what to do about it.

At age thirty-four, Jo Piazza got her romantic-comedy ending when she met the man of her dreams on a boat in the Galápagos Islands and was engaged three months later. But before long, Jo found herself riddled with questions. How do you make a marriage work in a world where you no longer need to be married? How does an independent, strong-willed feminist become someone’s partner—all the time?

In the tradition of writers such as Nora Ephron and Elizabeth Gilbert, award-winning journalist and nationally bestselling author Jo Piazza writes a provocative memoir of a real first year of marriage that will forever change the way we look at matrimony.

A travel editor constantly on the move, Jo journeys to twenty countries on five continents to figure out what modern marriage means. Throughout this stunning, funny, warm, and wise personal narrative, she gleans wisdom from matrilineal tribeswomen, French ladies who lunch, Orthodox Jewish moms, Swedish stay-at-home dads, polygamous warriors, and Dutch prostitutes.

Written with refreshing candor, elegant prose, astute reporting, and hilarious insight into the human psyche, How to Be Married offers an honest portrait of an utterly charming couple. When life throws more at them than they ever expected—a terrifying health diagnosis, sick parents to care for, unemployment—they ultimately create a fresh understanding of what it means to be equal partners during the good and bad times.

Through their journey, they reveal a framework that will help the rest of us keep our marriages strong, from engagement into the newlywed years and beyond.

JO PIAZZA is an award-winning journalist and the bestselling coauthor of the novel The Knockoff.  Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York magazine, Glamour, Elle, Time, Marie Claire, the Daily Beast, and Slate. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed Celebrity, Inc.: How Famous People Make Money; and If Nuns Ruled the World: Ten Sisters on a Mission. She holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in journalism from Columbia University, and a master’s in religious studies from New York University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Nick and their giant dog.

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Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains

Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains by Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent

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A thrilling and dangerous adventure though the Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh—a mountainous area in to the far north-eastern corner of India—one of the world’s least explored regions.

Arunachal Pradesh—meaning “land of the dawn-lit mountains”—has remained uniquely isolated. Steeped in myth and mystery, not since pith-helmeted explorers went in search of the fabledFalls of the Brahmaputra” has an outsider dared to traverse it—until now. Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent sets out to chronicle this forgotten corner of Asia, travelling more than 2,000 miles she encounters shamans, lamas, hunters, opium farmers, fantastic tribal festivals, and little-known stories from the Second World War. In the process, she discovers a world and a way of living that are on the cusp of changing forever.

Beautifully written and vividly told, this is an exciting and exuberant journey through India’s forgotten frontier.

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On the Ganges: Encounters with Saints and Sinners on India’s Mythic River

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On the Ganges: Encounters with Saints and Sinners on India’s Mythic River by George Black

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Journey along one of the world’s greatest rivers and catch a glimpse into the lives and cultures of the people who live along its banks

The Ganges flows through northern India and Bangladesh for more than 1,500 miles before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. It is sacred to Hindus who worship Ganga, the river goddess. But it has also long been a magnet for foreigners, some seeking to unravel its mysteries and others who have come in search of plunder. In On the Ganges, George Black, who chronicled the exploration of the American West and the creation of Yellowstone National Park in Empire of Shadows, takes readers on an extraordinary journey from the glaciers of the Himalayas to the sacred city of Varanasi to the “hundred mouths” of the Ganges Delta.

On the Ganges, parts of which originated from a New Yorker article published last year, introduces us to a vivid and often eccentric cast of characters who worship the river, pollute it, and flock to it from all over the world in search of enlightenment and adventure. Black encounters those who run the corrupt cremation business, workers who eke out a living in squalid factories, religious fanatics, and Brits who continue to live as if the Raj had never ended.

By the end of his journey, Black has given us a memorable picture of the great river, with all its riddles and contradictions, both sacred and profane, giving the last word to a man scavenging for the gifts left by pilgrims: “There are good days and there are bad days. It all depends. Everything is in the hands of our mother, Ma Ganga.”

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