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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-travelling on the hippie trail
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...
Published on 15 July 2006 by R. Thomson

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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 just wanted to be home again as it seemed to speed up quite a bit. Some of the destinations I was looking foward to reading about, he seemed to arrive and leave again very quickly leaving me...
Published on 20 May 2009 by jkennedy


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-travelling on the hippie trail, 15 July 2006
By 
This review is from: Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India (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.

For anybody who did not travel on the first trail, this is a superb synthesis of many strands that gives a good picture of how it was. For anybody who has visions of a closer world and a new paradigm for living, this account shows much of what was achieved before, and some of the mistakes, and inspires one to try again. For those who did travel the Trail, I doubt that they will have much to argue with Maclean about.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read, 5 Sep 2006
By 
This review is from: Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India (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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-travelling on the hippie trail, 7 July 2007
By 
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.

For anybody who did not travel on the first trail, this is a superb synthesis of many strands that gives a good picture of how it was. For anybody who has visions of a closer world and a new paradigm for living, this account shows much of what was achieved before, and some of the mistakes, and inspires one to try again. For those who did travel the Trail, I doubt that they will have much to argue with Maclean about.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Book, 5 July 2006
This review is from: Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India (Hardcover)
This book is beautifully written, extremely well researched and very engaging. It is evident that in researching his book Rory Maclean has recently travelled the hippie trail, and presumeably done so at some personal risk in certain regions which are not very safe. Indeed, given that some of the regions MacLean visited are currently inaccessible, his book is all the more fascinating and compelling. The book is a remarkable account of a very special era in the 20th century and will appeal to those who experienced the hippie trail first hand and those who wished they had! I support the very positive professional editorial reviews written about Magic Bus (see the Amazon website), and would recommend it to anyone young or old who wishes to capture or recapture the adventure, enthusiasm and spirit of the 1960s and 1970s.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A travelogue with a difference, 9 Sep 2007
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. Magic Bus by Rory Maclean gives us all of that by setting the Asia Overland phenomenon in context - with musical reference points from the 60's like Grateful Dead, Beatles and Pink Floyd sprinkled liberally through his work; great writers who encapsulated the moment like Siddharta, Richard Brautigan and Ginsberg but also by showing us the effects of conflict on those he meets.

Indeed it is a walk through a museum collection of that time - flip flops; beards, religious enlightenment, reverence for all things alternative and the desire to experience life through world travel.

The author refers to the hippies and travellers who followed the route as the "Intrepids". They would pass on knowledge as they went like folklore and gradually a route plan of coffee shops, hostels and evening a pudding shop in Istanbul were etched into the overland map.

The book has a counterpoint motion running through it. Just when you think you could be a hippie again and smell the incense - you read a passage in Rory's book that brings you crashing back to earth quicker than you think.

Think of Haight Ashbury and peace marches against the war in Vietnam. Flower power and rock `n' roll. Today we have two very real wars Afghanistan and Iraq - and not a daisy to be seen - could there be a backlash still to come when the wars end.

Drawing us into the fantastic scenery on the trail Maclean depicts the story of those he meets almost in a biblical way and whom we learn from. First he we meet Penny, who dedicated herself to the hippie ethos of free love and enlightenment only to be massively disillusioned and lost when the last of her husbands dies. Hers is a tale of retracing her steps to try and piece together the fabulous places she once had the chance to visit. But ultimately failing to retrieve those heady, free times she experienced.

In contrast, Laleh, a young Muslim woman full of candour but also grit and determination sees her place on the planet as honouring her traditions like wearing the Chador but also making her voice heard despite the danger that may befall her in Iran.

Where these voices have freedom to act - others believe they have no choices. Sahar is a taxi driver whose parents paid for him to have a perceived better life in the West. Coming from an ancient tribe in Iran - the Qashqa'is or Wanderers he tells a tale of human trafficking that went drastically wrong. The dream of the West is in the hands of the few underground gangs who engineer a fatal escape route for those that are willing to pay. Sahar saw people die around him including his brother as they choked for oxygen in the back of a refrigerated lorry transporting them from Europe to the UK.

It is this mix of heady description of the landscape and real life experiences of those Rory meets that soon you realise that Magic Bus has a depth of humanity that you were perhaps unprepared for.

Maclean on his mission to reach Afghanistan finds himself derailed from his scheduled flight and on board a UN flight. The intention is to fly to Kabul - but by default he finds himself with a Danish MP and a Nigerian business man in Bagram at the courtesy of the US army. A curious mix of MASH style lodgings and a bid to do all that was right and good - Maclean finds himself in danger of being ousted when he admits he is a a travel writer - hardly a threat to the masses.

This is a book worth reading as a reminder of how a youth movement rose up to remind those in power there was a different way of doing things at a time of war - albeit pushing the margins at times. This book cleverly shows us there is a way to fight, not back down and a step towards finally reaching a resolution.

So, to the Intrepids wherever you are today - in whatever office block - try remember how you were and sit crossed legged at lunchtime you never know you may gain a whole new level of respect..
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book, 3 July 2007
By 
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groovy Journey ..., 27 Jun 2006
This review is from: Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India (Hardcover)
A few years ago, Rory Maclean retraced the steps of the Intrepids, adventurous travellers who journeyed from Europe to India in the 1960s and 1970s. He visited many of the same shops and sites as before and interviewed numerous Intrepids and locals who helped them along the way.

This is a fascinating and hugely entertaining story which covers some incredible countries, including a newly post-Taleban Afghanistan.

Highly recommended!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Nicoles Bouvier?, 14 July 2007
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.
In 1973 I made it to Varanasi (then Banaras) with two friends in a battered old Peugeot 404 station wagon in three weeks time. I am still very much influenced by this era, its culture and its extraordinary musical creativity.
I haver rediscovered all that in "Magic Bus" thanks to Rory MacLean who is a travel-writer of the calibre of Nicolas Bouvier.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts, 20 May 2009
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 just wanted to be home again as it seemed to speed up quite a bit. Some of the destinations I was looking foward to reading about, he seemed to arrive and leave again very quickly leaving me frustrated as I had been looking forward to his arrival throughout the journey. Overall a good read though
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for past, present and future, 2 July 2007
By 
Emily Ferenczi (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. In each chapter, as we move across the world from West to East, we find a character in whom we identify a small part of ourselves. With this ability to find the humanity amidst the differences, the disasters and the changes, Rory Maclean binds people, religions and nations together, scaling the decades and the distance. It is an essential book at a time when unity in our world is needed more than anything.
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Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India
Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India by Rory MacLean (Hardcover - 29 Jun 2006)
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