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51 Reviews
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, and a big kick in the tail.
Unlike other travelogues I have read, this one has a very punchy story. Not a book for the faint hearted, but I suppose South American backpacking never is. The characters (Mark No.2 and Melissa)are seriously "larger then life" although Mann himself is the mundane comparison with which most of us would associate. Mann is a talented story-teller, who has...
Published on 6 Aug 1999

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars :)
Although I've only recently become interested in travel literature, in comparison to some other novels in the genre I've read I wouldn't call this a 'must read'.
Basically, I wasn't really sure about the books purpose - was it trying to give a true insight into South America, past and present, or just tell us something about the Lonely Planet generation? Both, I...
Published on 8 Jan 2002


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a let down., 2 Nov 2010
After reading the rave reviews, I had high hopes - especially as I have previously spent time in South America. I felt sure it would be gripping. However, I found the book to be weird, and wondered why the characters were trekking around hostels and taking drugs as they neared their 30s. Didn't have the care free tone a book about travelling and all the experiences that come with travelling around S.American should have (in my mind) because, as a reader, I couldn't help wondering why the characters were so aimless and immature. It seemed sad.

The writing style was not one that drew me in and, although the book picked up near the end when interesting events unfurled, I wouldn't read it again. The female character wasn't fleshed out much and I found I didn't really care what happened to the three protagonists. The fact there was very little dialogue didn't help. A big disappointment sadly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars :), 8 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gringo Trail: A Darkly Comic Road-Trip Through South America (Paperback)
Although I've only recently become interested in travel literature, in comparison to some other novels in the genre I've read I wouldn't call this a 'must read'.
Basically, I wasn't really sure about the books purpose - was it trying to give a true insight into South America, past and present, or just tell us something about the Lonely Planet generation? Both, I suspect, but the outcome isn't entirely convincing. I have to admit, bits were dead funny and I liked Mark Mann's kinda offbeat style of writing, but by the end I couldn't help getting annoyed with these politically correct, middle-class gringos. However, I would still recommend the book for a couple of hours of escapism.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easily readable., 4 Jun 2001
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This review is from: The Gringo Trail: A Darkly Comic Road-Trip Through South America (Paperback)
The Gringo Trail, or should the title be "The Gringo Trip" as Mark Mann relays his various drug induced trip(s) around South America? Trips also of emotional discovery with his developing close friendship with Melissa... The disturbing tension felt between the author and Mark are co-ordinated with the comical search for the buried dope. As the pages turn by and they become more at ease, Mark's images of the locations, its people and history produced a very readable book. It served more as a memory-jogger, than as a guide. I questioned the real aim of the travellers. Was it an attempt to escape conformity of England by going to South America, or, to produce a first-hand account and directory of the effects of the drugs available? Although I enjoyed the book, it is very easy to read and the vocabulary flowed, I can't help wondering whether the book would have been written had the [...] events at Arrecifies not occurred.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, and a big kick in the tail., 6 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gringo Trail (Paperback)
Unlike other travelogues I have read, this one has a very punchy story. Not a book for the faint hearted, but I suppose South American backpacking never is. The characters (Mark No.2 and Melissa)are seriously "larger then life" although Mann himself is the mundane comparison with which most of us would associate. Mann is a talented story-teller, who has researched the South American history well, He approaches it from a somewhat cynical, anti-capitalist perspective, which would not be everyone's cup of tea. But regardless of your politics, the story reaches out and grabs you by the throat. A great big rollercoaster of geographical, and self exploration (mostly drug enhanced) that spirals towards an all too real,nightmare conclusion. I fought with my wife over whose turn it was to read the book, and she had nightmares afterwards. There must be safer ways to explore South America, but they wouldn't make quite so compulsive a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, easy to read, 18 Mar 2013
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It was a good, fun book. easy to read. I chose it because I had just returned from travelling for a year and it was a great read because I could relate a lot to what he saw on that trail. It isn't anything life changing but if you have done the "gringo trail" you will find it pretty funny to look back on your own experiences and compare.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A quick, entertaining read, 13 Feb 2013
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With an interest in travelling to South America in the coming years, I was looking for a book that was quick to read, light-hearted and would give me a first hand account of some of tourist trail without the over-describing quality of a Tolkien novel. This book was just that. It did feel a bit rushed in places but I think that it gives a good account of the trip of a lifetime, which I genuinely could not stop reading.

There's a good blend of the party-scene and the calls of nature, which gives the reader an overall feel of what the region is like. Its not the best written book. The style can be a rushed in places and its filled with quite brief and random historical facts, which could have been expanded on a bit more. Often scenes will end quite abruptly, leaving me craving for a bit more action. I also found that it dragged quite a bit towards the end, with the writer somewhat unwilling to move on from the beach life at Arrecife.

Overall, the book serves its purpose: providing a brief description of events taking place during a wild trip, without being too serious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and intelligent, 21 Jan 2013
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A well-written story of a South American trip; I'm impressed that he could remember the details after taking so many mind-bending substances on the journey. The frequent anti-capitalist rants, reminiscent of one-sided student politics, became a bit tedious but his descriptions of the people he met en-route, locals and back-packers, are really entertaining. Well worth reading.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A South American trip., 28 Dec 2005
This review is from: The Gringo Trail: A Darkly Comic Road-Trip Through South America (Paperback)
A moderately engaging travellers tale. However, I fail to see the point of sitting on a beautiful beach for a month, taking a lot of drugs. When this is coupled with the authors rather superior attitude to backpacking it can be somewhat nauseating. Perhaps offloading his irritating travelling companions in the first week might have helped. Some interesting descriptions of Colombia and a smattering of errors in the text, which keep the reader feeling superior as they spot them, ease the passage and kept me on board until the end.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gringo Trail just didn't hit the mark, man, 12 May 2003
By 
Matt (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gringo Trail: A Darkly Comic Road-Trip Through South America (Paperback)
I must admit I had to read this in one sitting. Not for the fact that I liked it, but unfortunetly I have a habit of once starting a book, no matter how bad, I have to finish it. And I needed to finish this one pretty quickly. I did like Marks love of the continent, but that wasn't enough to keep the story together. It was almost like reading my sisters diary when a child, but without the secrets, gossip and intrigue. And that’s all this was - a diary, speckled with historical snip bits. The trouble with diaries that are published as stories is they lack the beginning, middle and end needed to satisfy the reader. To be fair, I could have forgiven him for missing the first two out. The Gringo Trail is a collection of experiences that fail to deliver on their promises of excitement and discovery, and makes you end up wishing Mark had made it up instead. Which I’m sure he is very capable of doing. Some true stories are well worth telling, and this is one of them... but more in the pub than published sense.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real South American travel book, 11 Jun 2002
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simon gurney (london United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gringo Trail: A Darkly Comic Road-Trip Through South America (Paperback)
This book instantly stands apart from the better known South American travel books.
Mark Mann is less of a journalist traveling to gather material for a book, and he is far more in tune with the economic and environmental problems in South America.
The first section of the book where they travel around Equador Peru and Bolivia is essential reading if your heading there or have been there, theres lots of comic situations that are all too easily recognised.
The highs and lows of backpacking are wonderfully spelled out and the three main charcters are engaging, with a little pre-trip history to flesh them out.
The second half of the book, slowly changes to move towards the events which have been variously foretold earlier, and this mainly happens in Columbia, and the last pasrt of columbia, indded did remind me very much of the Beach, although Alex Garland did it better, in this respect.
Lots of thoughtful and inspiring material, a must have for the Andean adventurer.
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