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Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India [Hardcover]

Rory MacLean
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Jun 2006
In the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of young westerners, inspired by Kerouac and the Beatles, blazed the hippie trail' overland from Istanbul to Kathmandu in search of enlightenment and a bit of cheap dope. Since the Summer of Love the countries that offered so much to these dreamers have confronted the full force of modernity, transformed from worlds of western fantasy to political minefields. Through a landscape of breathtaking beauty Rory MacLean retraces the path of the once well-worn hippy trail from Turkey to Iran, Afghanistan to Pakistan, India to Nepal, meeting trail veterans and locals on his way, and relives wide-eyed adventures as he witnesses a world of extraordinary and terrifying transformation.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (29 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670914843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670914845
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 639,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rory MacLean is one of Britain's most expressive and adventurous travel writers. His ten books, including UK best-sellers 'Stalin's Nose' and 'Under the Dragon', have challenged and invigorated creative non-fiction writing, and - according to the late John Fowles - are among works that 'marvellously explain why literature still lives'. He has won awards from the Canada Council and the Arts Council of England as well as a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, and was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary prize. He has written and presented over 50 BBC radio programmes and worked on movies with Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Rory divides his time between Berlin, London and Dorset.

http://www.rorymaclean.com

Product Description

Review

'A rich cacophony of views on the meaning of life . . . strewn with fascinating relics. Absorbing' -- Sunday Times

'MacLean is one of the most strikingly original and talented writers of his generation' -- Katie Hickman

'MacLean takes us through the shattered remains of Shangri-La and leaves us sombre, but enlightened' -- Tim Mackintosh-Smith

'MacLean’s prose moves elegantly from the elegiac to the ironic, from the sad to the grotesque to the comic' -- TLS

'Undaunted and unprejudiced . . . A disturbing, gripping and intensely passionate story' -- Esther Freud

'Utterly absorbing; if you read only one travel book this year, this should be it' -- Alexander Frater

MacLean is a wonderfully deft writer’ -- Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Rory MacLean is the author of six highly acclaimed and award-winning books. He is a regular contributor to Radio 4 and lives in Dorset with his wife and son.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
My wonder at that first step moves me still, that stride into the unknown, that grasping for stars; the open road before me, the Blue Mosque at my back, the Beach Boys in my ear. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-travelling on the hippie trail 15 July 2006
Format:Hardcover
Thanks to Rory Maclean the bus still runs, and I was able to catch it a generation and a half after the departure of the original Intrepids to the once-wild East. That East that was the world of dreams for a tired Europe whose kids desparately needed vision and freshness, for whom there was nothing at home that could hold the imagination, and whose parents' lives had been consumed and formed in the horror of war, the collapse of empire, incredible technological changes and the struggle to hang onto something familiar.

Rory Maclean balances the sentiment of the original journeys, thousands of them, gained by a brave attempt to trace their route under very changed, and more dangerous circumstances than they once were, with an updated perspective on the trail as it appears today. Those early travellers were gullible, naive and inexperienced. They were also passionate and committed to a new world of real relations - and of pleasure.

It may be that the passage of those early hippies laid something of the foundations for the present tensions and unhealthy religious and political conditions. Yet this too will pass. Maclean's account, meanwhile, consists in the main of encounters along the way with a brilliant Afghan rug of characters, from the ancient hippie soulmate he meets in Turkey to the Iranian city guide who opens his mind behind closed doors, the Englishman who converted to Islam in Pakistan and created for himself a spiritual path from the land and the people and the ecstasy of the meeting. Old hippies, musicians, their admirers along the way, NGO employees who wished they had been part of it... they are all here. And in each case there is a true encounter, a meeting of minds - surely the purpose of all travel, then and now and henceforth.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read 5 Sep 2006
Format:Hardcover
Many books have been written about the sixties, but Rory Macleans "Magic Bus" is the first to my knowledge which describes the journey many thousands of us made in those tumultuous years, overland from Istanbul to Kathmandu. The author retraces the route, describing with accuracy and humour the old haunts that many of us knew so well. From the Pudding Shop in the shadow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the Amir Kabir in Tehran, the cafes on Chicken Street in Kabul, the magnificient statues of Buddha in Bamyian tragically destroyed by the Taliban, to the dope filled dives of Freak Street in Kathmandu. For me the book brought the memories flooding back as I am sure it would for others familiar with the "hippy trail" But the book is not just for those who made that journey in the sixties and seventies, it's a fascinating travelogue in its own right, a piece of our cultural and social history, and a wonderful description of an era and a journey which will never be repeated in quite the same way. A five star read.
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Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-travelling on the hippie trail 7 July 2007
Format:Paperback
Thanks to Rory Maclean the bus still runs, and I was able to catch it a generation and a half after the departure of the original Intrepids to the once-wild East. That East that was the world of dreams for a tired Europe whose kids desparately needed vision and freshness, for whom there was nothing at home that could hold the imagination, and whose parents' lives had been consumed and formed in the horror of war, the collapse of empire, incredible technological changes and the struggle to hang onto something familiar.

Rory Maclean balances the sentiment of the original journeys, thousands of them, gained by a brave attempt to trace their route under much changed and more dangerous circumstances than they once were, with an updated perspective on the trail as it appears today. Those early travellers were gullible, naive and inexperienced. They were also passionate and committed to a new world of real relations - and of pleasure.

It may be that the passage of those early hippies laid something of the foundations for the present tensions and unhealthy religious and political conditions. Yet this too will pass. Maclean's account, meanwhile, consists in the main of encounters along the way with a brilliant Afghan rug of characters, from the ancient hippie soulmate he meets in Turkey to the Iranian city guide who opens his mind behind closed doors, the Englishman who converted to Islam in Pakistan and created for himself a spiritual path from the land and the people and the ecstasy of the meeting. Old hippies, musicians, their admirers along the way, NGO employees who wished they had been part of it... they are all here. And in each case there is a true encounter, a meeting of minds - surely the purpose of all travel, then and now and henceforth.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book 3 July 2007
Format:Paperback
Many books have been written about the sixties, but Rory Macleans "Magic

Bus" is the first to my knowledge which describes the journey many thousands of us made in those tumultuous years, overland from Istanbul to Kathmandu.

The author retraces the route, describing with accuracy and humour the old

haunts that many of us knew so well. From the Pudding Shop in the shadow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the Amir Kabir in Tehran, the cafes on Chicken Street in Kabul, the magnificient statues of Buddha in Bamyian tragically destroyed by the Taliban, to the dope filled dives of Freak Street in Kathmandu. For me the book brought the memories flooding back as I am sure it would for others familiar with the "hippy trail" But the book is not just for those who made that journey in the sixties and seventies, it's a fascinating travelogue in its own right, a piece of our cultural and social history, and a wonderful description of an era and a journey which will never be repeated in quite the same way. A five star read
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic Bus
The overland trail toKathmandu was something thousands of young people did in the sixties or seventies. In 1979 the overland route ceased because of the Iranian revolution. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Greeves
5.0 out of 5 stars i loved it
Thanks, very quickly! It was very good, i'm anxious to read it! Will definitely buy more from here! Thanks again
Published 14 months ago by Francisca
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and uninformative. Avoid.
I borrowed this book from my other half on our last holiday. I was expecting to find it absolutely fascinating given the places and times it would be covering. Read more
Published on 4 Feb 2012 by snowman1
3.0 out of 5 stars Magic Bus Review
Interesting account of the hippie trail to India.Entertaining but one criticism is that it could have contained more photographs of the journey. Read more
Published on 29 Jan 2011 by Eduardo
1.0 out of 5 stars Humourless & unrevealing
This was a deeply disappointing book. The material is rich but nothing (good) stood out. The straight travel writing was poor with some very cliched descriptive passages. Read more
Published on 29 July 2009 by S. J. Pearson
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts
I found this book very interesting to begin with - the author went into great detail about his earlier locations but towards the end it seemed as if he kind of lost interest and... Read more
Published on 20 May 2009 by jkennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars I missed the bus!
Although I was the right generation, sadly(?) I didn't take the hippie trail in the 60s/70s - nonetheless I really enjoyed this book. Read more
Published on 26 Sep 2008 by G. E. Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars A travelogue with a difference
To make a travelogue different from those that have gone before takes talent but to inject a sense of documentary evidence and current reportage takes great skill. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2007 by Fiona Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Nicoles Bouvier?
It is an understatement to say that I have devoured "Magic Bus" !
A Frenchman (so sorry for my broken English !) in my fifties now, the book took me back to my twenties. Read more
Published on 14 July 2007 by Padraigbo
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for past, present and future
This book, honest and warm, is powerful in its attention to the small details of human characters that fill us with laughter and with sorrow. Read more
Published on 2 July 2007 by Emily Ferenczi
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