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Badlands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil (Lonely Planet Travel Literature)

Badlands: A Tourist on the Axis of Evil (Lonely Planet Travel Literature) [Kindle Edition]

Tony Wheeler
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Product Description


...humane, politically astute and very funny...' --Wanderlust Magazine, April/May 2007

Product Description

In an age of plastic knives on planes, Tony Wheeler can make the extraordinary claim of having visited all the rogue countries currently on newreaders' lip. Badlands is a witty first-hand account of his travels through some of the most repressive anddangerous regimes in the world: Afghanistan, Albania, Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Saudi Arabia. Taking into account each country's attitude to human rights, terrorism and foreign policy, he asks 'what makes a countrytruly evil?' and 'how bad is really bad?' - all the while engaging with a colorful cast of locals and hapless tour guides, ruminating on history and debunking popular myths. Written by the founder of Lonely Planet, this fascinating account oflife in these closed-off countries will appeal to anyone with an interest in the state of the world today

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 715 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet; 2 edition (1 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004MYH1JI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,157 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not All That Bad 20 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Bad Lands by Tony Wheeler is an interesting book. Though it may look, to people who see me reading this out and about, as though it's a book explaining exactly why the countries listed in George Bush's `Axis of Evil' are in fact `evil', it's not that at all. Tony Wheeler is sympathetic to the countries he visits and he often leaves the reader wondering what all the fuss is about. Yes, he is realistic about some of the absurdities of each country and their strange laws. He observes the oddity of restrictions to visitors wanting to enter certain countries (Iran for example) when many of its inhabitants want to, in fact, leave. But he also recalls the influence of other countries - mostly from the West or Communist Russia and China - who have also played a part in making them supposed `enemies'.

This is a book that can be picked up and read at intervals. You can dip in and read a chapter of choice without worrying about remembering what the last three chapters have told you. This is a good travel book that lets you choose where you want to be for a few pages. It even made me wonder why I wasn't contemplating visiting some of these countries myself - although also made me reconsider my desire to visit Cuba.

In fact, I tried to read this in one go, but reverted to reading it in between reading other things, as Wheeler's writing on each country has a repetitive element to it. Don't get me wrong, his style is accessible, balanced and sympathetic, and so very easy to read, but I felt like a break between each country allowed me to enjoy reading it more.

This is definitely a book to pick up if you are interested in an alternative view of those countries that appear so hostile on the news programmes
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 8 May 2013
By Conrad
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As an inveterate reader of travel books, I was truly disappointed with this one but as I had never read any Lonely Travel Guides, it could be that I had not realised that Lonely Travel Guides were just tourist guides for backpackers. To me, it read just like any other travel guides, places to be visited, churches not to be missed, state of the roads and so on.

As an example as to what I was expecting and did not get, in Cuba the author gave lots of lifts in his hired car, but almost never recounted any of the conversations he must have had with his passengers. Why on earth not? Surely that might have told us what opinions Cubans held about their Government and whether they missed the sort of freedoms we in the west enjoyed and so on. But no. Very disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great opportunity, irritatingly written 27 Jan 2011
By Darren Simons TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was rather intrigued when I first saw this book.. I figured visiting the Axis of Evil (and shortlisted countries) must be the ultimate thrill seek for the independent traveller. Being written by Tony Wheeler I was also curious to get some insight into the writing of the original Lonely Planet author.

Each chapter is dedicated to Wheeler's travels in a particular country, the people he meets, an insight into what it may be like to live there and there's some really good history to give you some context of the country. At the end of the book he gives a score to each country as a badland based on personality cult, external threat, terrorism and behaviour to their own citizens. On the face of it, the ingredients are there for a really good, quite unusual travel book. In fact, for much of the book I found I really enjoyed it.

Sadly, however, the author gets pretty close to ruining it by trying to be funny and appearing to be desperate to make sure the reader understands and appreciates the his willingness to share this knowledge and opinion. It seems to increase through the book and it takes various forms: mocking tour guides for blinkered views of history; criticising guidebooks for not detailing all the hotels (I'm sure most of us have had a similar experience with Lonely Planet at some time or another); comparing various situations to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; referring to Saudi women as having black bags on their heads.

At the end, Wheeler spends some time considering which other countries would be badlands. Curiously although shortlisting Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Congo, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea he opts for Israel and the Palestinians. It has no context, no relevance and if you look at what Wheeler has defined as being a Badland no chance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gallivanting through the Axis of Evil 10 May 2008
"Libya is one of the most comprehensively trashed countries I've ever visited." - Author Tony Wheeler in BAD LANDS

Co-founder (with his wife, Maureen) of Lonely Planet Publications, Tony Wheeler here describes his travels through nine countries generally considered "bad lands" by Western societies because of their poor treatment of their own citizens, their involvement in terrorism, and the threat they pose to other countries. The nine are Afghanistan, Albania, Myanmar (Burma), Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Except for areas in Iraq which Wheeler was careful to skirt, none of the nine are particularly dangerous for the individual visitor.

In the genre of travel essays, BAD LANDS is commendably out of the ordinary in that it includes a 16-page center section of color photographs. I guess if your book is being published your own publishing company, you can afford this extravagance.

While reading the first chapter on Afghanistan, I thought Wheeler's writing rather stiff and I was somewhat dreading the experience of the whole. But in following chapters, he loosens up considerably and becomes a congenial and wryly humorous guide. For instance, this paragraph about Cuba:

"Every other woman walking by was wearing the standard Cuban fashion statements: short, tight, low, high, stretched. Preferably in Lycra ... In Cuba no women can be too big, too wide, too round for Lycra. 'Thrusting femininity' was the two-word definition of the Cuban approach to fashion, according to one visiting travel writer ..."

Published in 2007, BAD LANDS provides a roomy front window for the reader to peer out into the contemporary society of each nation visited, as well as useful rear window overlooking their recent pasts.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
No surprises really from Mr Wheeler who has travelled more than most of us can dream of - interesting to read about places where the media have us believe everyone is out to get... Read more
Published 8 months ago by DustBowl
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok a bit rambling
The book is OK & quite an easy read, however less focused than I thought. Few travel tips for these countries and it would have been nice to have maps, routes in here as well as... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mr.I.D.Slade
1.0 out of 5 stars A very dull read
This book isn't really about travel but the author's extreme opinions on geo-politics. Unfortunately, he has to put every little detail of each trip whether it useful, interesting... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Adan
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent - widens the perspective regarding the western portrayal of...
I bought this on a whim, I'm glad that I did. It is interesting, informative and mildly amusing. The book sheds light on the irony of the western viewpoint of those countries our... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Pogbellies
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Interesting short accounts of the author's travels to places most people would never go. Stimulating but leaves you with a feeling of wanting more.
Published 16 months ago by JohnM
3.0 out of 5 stars bad lands
The book is slightly out of date and there have been major developments in some of the countries visited, for example, the fall and murder of Gadaffi in libya.
Published 16 months ago by harri
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Interesting stuff, especially the stuff about North Korea. Iran was also one of the countries I found fascinating and it seems like it should be on my visit list. Very interesting.
Published 16 months ago by Mr Andrew D Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Boys
I am a big fan on the Lonely Planet Guide Books and this seemed a bit different from the norm. The book is entitled Badlands: A Tourist on the axis of evil, and is written by... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Essex Girl
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad Land and
This book is interesting if you are after some political "analysis": I say "analysis" as a way of describing a westerner's stake on a political landscape, not as an in-depth... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Ce Moore
4.0 out of 5 stars Badlands
Lonely Planet guides are often used for travellers keen to get off the beaten track. North Korea, Myanmar, Iran and Iraq are certainly off the beaten track. Read more
Published 22 months ago by I. Curry
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